31 January 2011

Mild at heart

It's back! The first new beer out of the revived Messrs Maguire brewkit arrived just over a week ago. It's currently sporting branding proclaiming it to be "Bonza Brew", but I imagine that after Australia Day festivities cease it will go back to being plain old Messrs Maguire Brown Ale.

I confess to being a bit skeptical when I first heard about it: an American, brewing a brown ale, for an Irish pub? This is going to be really sweet isn't it? But when I first tried it all doubts were cast aside: what we have here is proper actual mild, and lovely to boot. Under a loose-bubbled ivory head broods a murky dark brown beer with hints of red around the edges showing very obviously that this stuff has never been near a filter in its life. And that stands to it when it comes to tasting: there's a major fresh-ground coffee foretaste, roasted and a little bit gritty. This is followed by a light plum sourness and a little hint of banana as well. Mostly, though, it's about those lovely roasted brown malt flavours. If you like beer which has had the bare minimum of dicking about done to it, this is one to go for. Sinkable and all as it is, a note of caution must be sounded at the ABV: 5.5% will sneak up on you. I'd have loved to see two or so percentage points knocked off that, but you can't have everything.

It'll be interesting to try the cask version. I find it hard to imagine there'll be much difference but will be finding out for certain in a couple of weeks at Ireland's first Cask & Winter Ales Festival hosted by the Franciscan Well in Cork from 11-13 February.

But back to MM. For the launch of the new beer, Mel kindly invited a bunch of us from Beoir down to the basement bar for a tasting. We got a tour as well and, as someone who's been a regular in the pub for a dozen years, it was interesting to finally get a look behind the scenes. It's surprisingly big, for one thing, the fermentation vessels occupying space below the pavement of Burgh Quay, edging on to the foundations of O'Connell Bridge. A tour bonus was Haus lager fresh from the conditioning tanks: cloudy and alive with flavour the way German kellerbier is supposed to be but rarely is, in my experience.

A big thanks to Mel and the MM crew for inviting us in, and here's looking forward to the next round of interesting brews from the MM kit.