18 March 2013

Coming on strong

The Irish Craft Beer Village is still going on at Dublin's IFSC. I was down a few evenings late last week, mainly to see what's new and interesting in the line-up. It's probably not the best environment to get to grips with an unfamiliar beer, what with the persistent chilliness of the liquid, not helped at all by the flimsy plastic receptacles. But howanever: the headliners were two strong beers, both ideal for counteracting the mid-March chill.

First up, Kindred Spirit, a 7% ABV whiskey-aged stout by Eight Degrees. Yes, I know, another whiskey-aged beer. I'm always a bit apprehensive approaching these as it seems to be a very easy style to make a mess of. The lads in Mitchelstown have done a great job, however, combining the best elements of whiskey and stout without any of the unpleasant side effects.

So you get a layer of rich milk chocolate to begin with and this is complemented by a subtle honey flavour, a taste which is the main reason I enjoy Irish whiskey but is so rarely present in beers that are whiskey-aged. There's some lovely vanilla oak as well, but again: just enough to add an extra dimension to the taste. The strength is well hidden with no hot alcohol flavours coming out. All-in-all a welcome addition to the range of stouts produced by Irish brewers.

While stouts may be ten a penny (plus excise and VAT) round these parts, double IPAs are somewhat rarer. The hophead lobby at Beoir has been getting quite vocal on the subject, so Carlow Brewing have stepped in to try and shut them up with O'Hara's Double IPA. For this type of beer, 7.5% ABV seems rather modest and the style Blueshirts at the festival had some forthright opinions on how justified the D-word is here. But none of that bothers me: if Carlow want to call it a Double IPA then that's what it is.

Of much greater importance than the badge is the beer itself. It presents as an enticing dark amber, not at all surprisingly, given the full body and smooth texture. I didn't get much of an aroma from it, less perfume than the brewery's 5.2% ABV pale ale. I don't know if this has been dry-hopped like the pale ale but I wouldn't be surprised if it hadn't. The real action kicks in on tasting. While not extremely bitter and citric like many a DIPA from the US, it makes up for any lack of unsubtle wallop with complexity. There's a sizable amount of orange pith in the mix, as well as some lighter peach and satsuma. The malt element lends a toffee base which harmonises beautifully with the hop fruit and makes for a smooth, dangerously drinkable experience. I don't give out "This Tastes Like Odell IPA" plaudits lightly, but this tastes like Odell IPA.

Before we leave, just a quick note about Bo Bristle IPA. This was launched at the Irish Craft Beer Festival last September and received a fairly unenthusiastic reception. Heavy, brownish and muted it had nothing wrong with it, but was hard to like. It's a reformulated version on sale at the festival now and it's much improved: crisp, golden and with a striking bitter grapefruit punch to it. A beer that's well worth taking another look at, and at 5% ABV a handy one to trade down to after the big-hitters.

The Irish Craft Beer Village is open today from noon and closes at 10pm this evening for another year.

11 comments:

  1. KS- You forgot the full-on hit of bacon it the face on first taste...

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    1. Ah it's more the gentle stroke of a rasher, I thought. I may re-draft these notes later today.

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  2. "The style Blueshirts" - love it.

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  3. Anonymous9:59 pm

    Badly managed mess, lots of empty taps and nobody in charge to explain the non existent free pint in the brew dock. Will avoid next year's.

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  4. Well I can explain that, Anonymous: The Brew Dock offered a free pint to attendees and then stopped. You can see them doing it on their Twitter.

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    1. Anonymous3:23 pm

      yeah the Brew Dock stopped offering but the staff at the festival were still telling people that they would get a free pint. I saw plenty of people walk into the brew dock and be told (politely) no free pint.

      The Brew Dock did say they put it on twitter but hours later people were still asking, why someone could not have walked around the corner and fixed the problem I will never know.

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    2. The Brew Dock withdrew the offer at 16.41. The volunteers at the box office (me) immediately ceased telling people they could get a free pint at The Brew Dock, and I tweeted to The Brew Dock that there would be people who already had cards who would be looking to exchange them for a pint.

      I'm interested to know how you think the problem could have been fixed. What's the solution to people who had been given a card before the offer expired but didn't go to The Brew Dock until after?

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    3. Anonymous7:35 pm

      the barman in the Brew Dock was telling people that the offer expired the day before and he had no idea why anyone was coming in asking for the free drink.

      How could the problem have been fixed? well a more professional setup might have stopped the problem from happening. Seems like a nice own goal for the Brew Dock.

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    4. I think the Brew Dock might have underestimated the attendance at the festival and were possibly overwhelmed by the numbers coming in looking for their free pints. An idea for next year would be for them to print out free pint vouchers which could be given out at the door; this would allow them to govern exactly how many pints they would be prepared to give away (and have expiry dates too)

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  5. Thomas Carroll2:34 am

    DIPA was (apparently) dry hopped with cascade, afaik.

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    1. Could do with a bit more, so.

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