02 March 2011

Gold zinger

We've been having some lovely weather in Dublin this week. Still a bit frosty in the mornings, but when the afternoon sun hits you full in the face, if you're anything like me, you think beer gardens. It was with such a sunny disposition that I dropped in to L. Mulligan Grocer in Stoneybatter yesterday. They don't have a beer garden yet, but they did have a brand new beer that's filled with almost as much sunshine: Metalman Pale Ale.

Metalman is Ireland's newest brewing company, set up by home brewers Gráinne and Tim, and aiming to make itself at home in Waterford City. While planning permission and suchlike unpleasantnesses are being dealt with, they're working out of the White Gypsy brewkit in Templemore. Pale Ale batch 2 is in the fermenter and the first kegs of batch 1 were delivered to pubs yesterday.

It's a delicate creature, pale and light and zesty. Cascade and Amarillo are the hops but they're not laid on especially thick. There's not much by way of a malt profile either and perhaps the most distinctive feature of the flavour is a not unpleasant chalky mineral note, something I've noticed before in White Gypsy beer, particularly the Emerald pale ale. It'll be interesting to see how (or if) this changes when production moves two counties south to Waterford. There's a lovely long mandarin finish, surprising for something this understated, so perhaps the hops are pulling their weight after all. In short, it's an excellent thirst quencher and a promising first outing for the new company.

At the risk of sounding like a spoiled and jaded city slicker, my only real criticism is that it's too similar to other craft-brewed hop-driven light golden Irish ales already on the market: Trouble Brewing's Ór offers an obvious parallel. That said, no doubt it'll be a welcome breath of fresh air to drinkers in its home base of Waterford which, of course, is where it has real work to do. And I think it's different enough from any of the beers from Co. Waterford's other micro, Dungarvan Brewing, to sit peaceably next to them in the pub. Or, for preference, in the beer garden outside. Somewhere with a view of the sea would be nice.

Metalman Pale Ale is currently available at L. Mulligan Grocer and the Bull & Castle in Dublin, and Revolution in Waterford. The grand launch is at the Bull & Castle tomorrow at 7pm (sign up here) with the Waterford launch on Tuesday 8th March in Revolution (sign up here).