17 March 2010

Buckle up!

I had hoped I'd get a sneaky taste of the long-awaited new edition of Porterhouse Celebration stout in time for St. Patrick's Day, but it looks like I'll have to wait until next week for that. I'm told Carlow have a new stout brewed for Easter and of course there's White Gypsy Vintage almost ready for release, so there's lots on the horizon for the coming weeks, but sadly I've no new Irish stout to offer you on this our national day.

There is one new native beer, though. The Bull & Castle commissioned Carlow Brewing to come up with an exclusive pale session ale for them, and Buckley's -- on sale since the weekend -- is the result. It's a clear amber gold with a surprisingly full body for only 3.9% ABV. It's nice to know Irish breweries can do keg ales at this strength without them coming out watery.

Hoppiness was part of the spec, and the brewer seems to have opted for the earthy British variety rather than the fruity American sort which, I suppose, would have made the end product too similar to Galway Hooker. So you get the aroma of a hoppy English pale ale and a sharp bitter bite at the front of the palate before this fades to a dry and grainy -- almost lagery -- crisp finish.

My only criticism is that it's a bit gassy for my liking. In fairness, my first one was quaffed swiftly so I probably felt it more than if I'd taken my time over it, but I still think that this sort of session beer should be very easy to drink, and that includes lightness on the fizz front. I'll be very interested to try it on cask, should that ever be rolled out in my vicinity.

It's quite an exciting time for Irish brewing at the moment. In addition to Buckley's, Carlow have a new IPA in the pipeline, and Franciscan Well's new pale ale is apparently on its way to Dublin. Meanwhile, Clanconnel has completed its move to a new purpose-built brewery and will shortly be expanding its portfolio, while down Waterford way Dungarvan Brewing is under starter's orders, with its first three beers due for release in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully Kildare's Trouble Brewing won't be far behind. For some background on how far we've come in recent years, have a look at my guest post on Irish brewing at The Brew Club today.

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Dublin. Don't forget to punch your local Diageo rep.

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