With Beoir's Beer of the Year for 2014 and a gold medal at Alltech under their belt, Galway Bay Brewery is not exactly short on laurels, but they certainly haven't been resting on them. This last few weeks has seen a new pub, Alfie Byrne's next to the Conrad Hotel in Dublin, bringing the estate to nine. And there have been several new beers.
It was at the opening night in Alfie Byrne's that I met Galway Bay American Amber Ale -- as a child of the pilot brewery it doesn't appear to get a proper nautical name like its full siblings. It's a little on the pale side for the style, more a dark orange than properly red, and it smells of... swimming pools? One mouthful in and my pint was confiscated by the management. Incomplete line-cleaning, it seems. A replacement was immediately provided. This had significantly less chlorine and a lot more mango in the aroma. At its heart is the big illicit buzz of dank hops: funky, oily and all-pervading. It gradually fades to a pine bitterness with a spike of gunpowder spice. This is a serious beer for serious hopheads but its dark malts make it approachable for normal people too. The biggest surprise came some days later when I discovered it's 7.4% ABV. It really doesn't taste as strong as that. Highly enjoyable, but handle with care.
Alfie Byrne's has dedicated a tap for special edition beers, named "The Vernon", after the pub Alfie himself ran, down on Talbot Street. That'll be the first place I look on future visits.