29 September 2011

Alternative arrangements

I missed all the rí-rá agus ruaille-buaille of the first All-Ireland Craft Beerfest, held at the RDS last weekend. A shame because it was, by all accounts, a storming success. Big congratulations to the organisers and a hearty pat on the back to the Beoir volunteers who stepped up and helped out. Next year I will manage my calendar more carefully. (Details of what I did instead will feature in the coming weeks as I sift through my scrawly notes.)

Lots of specials and seasonals from the Irish breweries were on tap at the festival and I really hope I'll be able to find them elsewhere at some point. The first opportunity came yesterday, on the warmest afternoon of the year in Dublin, when I dropped in to the Bull & Castle for a quencher. Thankfully, Metalman have taken the unorthodox step of making a witbier their winter seasonal and it was on tap.

Alternator's pale and hazy shade of orange has me immediately thinking of German-style weissbier, but the aroma is definitely wit: lots of coriander leaping out of the glass. On first sip I found the texture a little thin and a bit gassy, but I can't really quibble about this since cold and fizzy was exactly what I was after. Thirst slaked, there was enough left to give the flavours a bit more considered analysis, and there's plenty to be analysed: big fresh and juicy jaffa oranges first, gently spiced around the edges with that coriander, some white pepper and a properly bitter, floral hop kick. Towards the end the weissbier vibe came back as clove notes started to make themselves felt.

Overall, a cut above most interpretations of the witbier style and perfect while the sun shines. Just the one keg in the Bull & Castle so get it while it's hot, er, outside.


  1. Loved this beer at the AICBF (Did I just coin an acronym? Can you coin an acronym?). It was the only beer I had two of and weirdly it tasted quite different the second time.

    Had the first with microgirl and, while I got mostly banana, she got mostly clove. Second time, drinking it with my wife, the clove jumped out and smacked me in the face.

    Incidentally, they used a Saison yeast which woke up and started fermenting again in the kegs, causing over-pressurisation. Very odd to see kegs being vented.

  2. AICBF sounds like something 'orrible being cooked up by the EC/ECB/IMF to punish us for economic naughtiness.

    Interesting about the yeast. It's still pretty damn fizzy, as I said.

  3. Professor Pie-Tin2:40 pm

    I popped into the Bierhaus in Cork over the weekend - Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on draught was fine but the Galway Hooker pint that followed it simply knocked this American classic into a cocked hat.
    It really is becoming one of my favourite and very consistent beers of all time.