21 February 2007

Commonplace novelty

It's a grim time for seekers of interesting beer in Irish supermarkets. Despite Diageo blaming their recently-announced price hike on the horror of increased variety in the market, the situation on the shop floor is not so rosy. So I was overjoyed recently when I found a Tesco in Dublin city centre selling John Smith's Extra Smooth, the kind of cooking ale you'd not even notice in an English Tesco.

I took a can home, partly in the interests of science and partly out of desperation. As English beer goes, it's pretty poor. As beer goes it's pretty poor. The texture is spot on, and a lot of R & D has gone into that widget which creates the smooth fizz and velvety head out of the 440ml can. No-one at the brewery was too bothered about the flavour side of things, unfortunately. It's almost bland, and it pains me to say that what flavour there is carries the bitter acidity of, well, sick. I think they may have been going for fruitiness but missed it by a long way.

So, despite all the hype about Ireland's thriving speciality beer market, I think I'm going to have to stay with my regular, and much-loved, independent off-licences.

11 February 2007

A couple of sweeties

To Poland once more, and a Munich-style golden lager called Carpatia. It has the sweetness characteristic of the genre, but this is complicated by a pleasant bitter tang. If you like your Spaten but feel like a change, this one is for you.

The guys at Okocim score another hit with Palone, their "fire-brewed" dark beer. It's nothing at all like a stout, despite the tight head and silky smooth texture. Instead, this is an uber-sweet, flowery ale which manages to hold your attention without for a moment becoming at all cloying.

I'm pleased to welcome Polish beer back into my good books after some recent sub-standard experiences.

03 February 2007

Dunkel Paddy

The Porterhouse's seasonal rotation has Vienna Dark Lager at the taps now. This deep red beer is an amalgam of the best of the Porterhouse's best lagers and ales. Up front there is the caramel sweetness of their Red, backed by the dry grain character of their crafted lagers. In addition there's a dark smoke flavour completing the mix and really making this beer stand out. Get it while you can.