Three from that Yorkshire today, part of the ever-expanding range of English bottled beers currently knocking around Dublin's offies.
My first is Thoroughbred, a pale ale from Hambleton's. I confess I wasn't expecting much, the brewery being better known in these parts for its lacklustre gluten-free efforts. Thoroughbred is all of 5% ABV and a hazy shade of light orange. There's not much by way of aroma but the flavour more than makes up for that. You get lovely big, ripe juicy mandarins followed by a stimulating sandalwood spice all set on an assertively waxy bitter base. Subtle it ain't, but I really enjoyed the combination of tastes. Harvey's Best in hobnail boots, as well as one of the closest-tasting beers to draught Timothy Taylor Landlord that I've met. And I'm including bottled Landlord in that.
Wold Top's Mars Magic next: a dark red-brown beer, looking not far off some of the Irish reds, and Carlow's in particular. It's the dose of roast barley that does it. There's a thick boozy, beery drip-tray aroma, though the taste isn't as sweet as I expected from that. The roast barley jumps in early with quite an assertive dryness. In the middle there's just a flash of black cherries or blackberries, and then its dryness as usual at the end, with a dash of dark chocolate and more than a little bit of metallic bite. It's heavy going and quite fizzy with it: one of those beers I found myself wishing was over before I was half way through.
And finally Against the Grain, another one from Wold Top. This beer caused a bit of a nine-day wonder when it was launched here at the end of last year, sharing its name as it does with one of Dublin's top beer pubs. The name comes from the fact that it is gluten-free, and lists maize and lager malt on the ingredients. Lager malt is gluten-free? Really? (Sort of.)
Behind the punky distressed lettering (yawn) is an exceedingly pale yellow beer with a sharp and citric smell: quite a wake-up call after the boozy bloaty dark beer which preceded it. And the taste is... convincing. Yes it's a bit thin for the serious hopping it's been given, presumably to cover up for flaws in the compromised grain bill, but it's genuinely enjoyable to drink. I'm reminded of crappy pseudo-lagers I've made from kits and then loaded with dry hops to render them drinkable: it's a very easy and cheap way of making palateable beer. Were I to be sentenced to a gluten free lifestyle tomorrow I would definitely view this as a welcome comfort, depending on what the doctor says about lager malt.
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