Thursday, February 26, 2015

A (Second) Visit to the Cellar

I finally made it back to The Cellar in Blackrock last weekend and picked up six more Irish beers  from their huge selection. I have to mind myself in there, I'd happily go in and drop a couple of hundred bills on beer easily. Luckily, I'm tight as a gnat's chuff...

Cotton Ball Kerry Lane Pale Ale 50cl 5% abv €4.25 link
Starting off - it's not bad. Cloudy amber in the glass with a fine white head. After a few minutes I'm beginning  like this more, maybe it has warmed up a touch but the finish is developing some nice complexity. There's not a lot of hops initially but  overall it's working for me. Not cheap though, at north of 4 notes for a bottle. For that money I'd want a bit more...

Clifford's Connacht Champion Irish Golden Ale  50cl 4% abv €3.99 link
Yummy. Pours with a thick white head and plenty of bubbles. Slightly sweet but there is a little tannic aftertaste that offsets it. It's got a lot of flavour for a 4% beer, and would make a good session ale, assuming that the sweetness doesn't become sickly. One for a sunny beer garden, methinks.

Brehon Brewhouse Stony Grey India Pale Ale 50cl 6% abv €4.25 link
Cloudy amber in the glass. Big and bold and yummy. Like it. 

Black Donkey Sheep Stealer Farmhouse Ale 50cl 5.6% abv €3.99 link
Nope. Tasted like a wheat beer to me.  (It's a saison - are the taste characteristics similar?). Either way I don't really care for it. Herself liked it, but she was weird taste; she married me after all.

Kelly's Mountain Revolution Red Ale 50cl 4.8% abv €3.79 link
Like this. Full flavoured with lots of caramel and a hint of fruit. I tried their Pale ale a while back but I don't recall if I liked it.

Jack Cody's Puck Pilsner 50cl 4.5% abv €3.69 link
Didn't care for it. Cloudy and dull and a bit resiny. Reminded me of Harviestoun Schiehallion craft lager, which I used to enjoy, but fell out of love with it all of a sudden, last time I tried it.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Craft Brewing Company - Irish Ale & Lager

I  ventured down to the Lidl in leafy Rathfarnham last week with the express purpose of sourcing some Crafty beer. I didn't get the stout but I did pick up a four pack of the ale (4.1%) and the lager (5%). The beers are made in Kilcock by The Rye River Brewing Company who also make McGargles, whose beers I quite like.

I can't find a link for the beer but this article has a good summary, even if I disagree with some of the conclusions.

Craft Brewing Company Irish Red Ale 33cl 4.1% abv  €5 for 4
Didn't really care for this. Found it a bit thin and sharp. The lack of bite may be a function of the abv, or lack thereof.

Craft Brewing Company Irish Lager 33cl 5% abv  €5 for 4
Full flavoured, little bit of hops, with a good finish and nice balance. I can taste the 5% and I likes it.  A steal at this price.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

My Evil Twin

I was buying wine in O'Briens in Carrickmines and I came across an evil (twin) offer - four for a tenner on the above Eviltwin beers - not bad at face value. So I picked up a couple of each.

EvilTwin Brewing Falco India Pale Ale 35.5cl 7% abv  €2.80 (reduced from €3.69)
Strong and hoppy with lots of pine/resin. This is not subtle, however and there are better US pale ales out there, so I don't think I'll be buying this again.

EvilTwin Brewing Hipster American Pale Ale 35.5cl 5.3% abv  €2.20 (reduced from €2.89)
Hipster - should have had this before the Falco as its weaker (in alcohol and flavour). It's not bad, easy drinking, I guess. Grassy with some fruity/floral notes also. Not much of a finish.

Zero for two. Ho hum...
I was in O'Briens again tonight, after a particularly torrid week of work I decided I wanted to buy some nice beers to sup on over the weekend. I picked up four White Hag IPAs and four 8Degrees Amber Ella, both of which I bleedin' love, and also the ale above. It's an Evil Twin 'Hop Flood' American Amber Ale and it weighs in at a whopping 7% abv. 

This was part of the original 4 for a tenner offer but I don't think it was available last time, so I grabbed one and had it earlier this evening; in a nutshell, it's a beast. Big and very hoppy. It's bitter at the finish but it has a bit of sweetness in the mix too - I don't think it's quite balanced enough but I liked it for its takes-no-prisoners strength and its...balls.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Irish IPAs - Poker School Blind Tasting

So it was my turn to host Poker, and I decided to mix it up by MCing a blind tasting of four Irish IPAs. I attempted to pick four similar Pale Ales, in terms of style, abv etc. This wasn't a selection of my favourites, btw. Of late I have been loving White Hag IPA, and Herself has been guzzling the classic Brewdog Punk IPA.

Anyhoo, after we had been playing for a couple of hours I brought out the beers, in unmarked plastic (?) cups to Alan, Josie, Brian and Paud. The scores are below, although I was obviously not tasting blind...

Beer1 Beer2 Beer3 Beer4
Alan 6 5 6 9
Josie 7 5 6 7
Brian 8 6 7 6
Paud 7 5 6 8
YHB 7 6 7 5

Total 28 21 25 30

There were some interesting comments too..

Beer 1 - "Flowers", "Fruity", "Pleasant"
Beer 2 - "Excrement", "Doesn't smell as good", "More Bitter. Less pleasant after taste"
Beer 3 - "Flowers", "Better than last one"
Beer 4 - "Mild taste of seamen" (sic), "Tastes like lager", "Sweetly interesting", "Bland"

So here are the beers revealed:

Beer 1: Black's Kinsale Pale Ale 5.0% abv
Beer 2: Trouble Brewing Sabotage India Pale Ale 5.5% abv
Beer 3: Galway Bay Full Sail IPA  5.8% abv
Beer 4: O'Hara's Irish Pale Ale 5.2% abv

The last comment is mine. After the bold flavours of beers 2 & 3, I found Beer 4 a bit lacking. And I really like O'Hara's, especially on draught, and although it did win, it would have fared better (with me) if it had come up before 2 &3. I liked the Black's IPA (as always) and the Galway Bay, which I tend to only drink when I am in Against The Grain but is pretty solid in bottles.

As for the Poker, I finished "up" on the night, courtesy of four bullets in the last hand, if you can't be good, be lucky.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

New Irish Beers from Wicklow Wolf and Galway Hooker

I think I got these three in Molloy's on the Ballogan Road. I suspect the Wicked Wolf beers were around the €4 mark based on what I paid for the last two of their beers. No idea how much the Galway Hooker lager was, sorry.
Wicked Wolf American Amber  4.8% 50cl €??
 Didn't take notes so this from memory - don't remember much on the way of hops, but it was deliciously balanced and there were some tasty caramel notes. As with the IPA I would recommend it with a caveat on the price..
Wicked Wolf Locavore Blonde  4.8% 50cl €??
Love this. I have a chequered history with Blonde ales but this definiteley hit the spot. This is a seasonal brew described as "fresh hopped 2014 all Irish ingredient blonde ale". Lots of hops (for a blonde) and good body. Here's the blurb from the website - it's all true.

"This beer is made using all Irish ingredients. We start with a grain bill of 100% Irish Ale Malt from Malting Company of Ireland.  The beer is hopped using all of our own hops grown in Roundwood This years batch has a blend of Cascade, Perle, Nugget, and Prima Dona. The hops are added late in the boil to capture the subtle flavor and aromas from the hops. As this is a special harvest ale, the beer will never taste the same from year to year, as we plant newer varieties of hops and the harvest yields increase the brews will be unique every time."

Galway Hooker Irish Dark Lager  4.3% 50cl €??
I don't really care for the "classic" Galway  Hooker pale ale. It's a bit mild for me so I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was a very decent lager. Amber in the glass, good body/mouthfeel, decent head, bit of malt. I'll add this to the (quite) short list of good Irish craft lagers.