I spotted a neat little addition to the offer at Against the Grain the other week. The pub's place as the premier source for exotic draught beers in Dublin remains unequalled in my view. Of course the downside of this is the prices that tend to get attached to such strange and rare creatures. The £10 pint of Odells IPA I nearly-but-didn't buy in London early this year remains a high point, but Dublin can sometimes be not far off the mark when it comes to these things. And there, on the row of taps in AtG were Flying Dog's Raging Bitch (a favourite) and Wildeman (never tasted). Thankfully the pub is always up front about its pricing (other establishments take note!) and a glace at the blackboard was all I needed to find out whether this tick was going to be worth my while. And there I saw something which surprised and delighted me: rather than try and force these into pint (too dear) or half (too small) measures, they're selling it as standard in a 375ml glass for €4.50. One of each, barkeep, please. At nearly €7 for a pint I probably wouldn't have bothered.
I'm sorry I don't have a picture of the glass, we had just dropped in on the way home from dinner and I was without appropriate image capture apparatus, but they're lovely little stemmed thistle things which show off the beer really well. So... Wildeman then. It's described as a "Farmhouse IPA" and named after the legendary Amsterdam pub. There's definitely a big Belgian influence here, with the 7.5% ABV making itself felt in a boozy fruity kind of way. Like in Raging Bitch, this melds quite beautifully with the juicy peachiness from the American hops. The big difference comes with the triple whammy of dryness: the grassy rye gives it a fairly arid base to start off with, then the saison yeast has done its best to clear out any residual sugars. Finally there's a big carbonic bite from the incredibly busy fizz, putting yet more of an edge on it.
I imagine (though am probably totally wrong) that Duvel Tripel Hop tastes something along these lines: that mix of tartness and fizz coupled with fresh hop zest. It's definitely one to take slowly. Comparisons with Raging Bitch were interesting: while that's all smooth and rounded, Wildeman offers a raw, high-impact pith buzz. I wouldn't have wanted a pint of either, but they were perfect as postprandial sharpeners.
I'm looking forward to more odd specialities like this at Against the Grain.
And while we're in the pub, don't forget that today sees the start of the second Bord Bia Farmhouse Cheese and Craft Beer Weekend, running through to Bank Holiday Monday. The full listing of cheesy-beery goings-on around the country can be found here.
Westmalle Dubbel - *Origin: Belgium | Date: 2008 | ABV: 7% | On The Beer Nut: October 2007* It's a longtime favourite today. Westmalle Dubbel goes back to the very beginnings...
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