27 June 2013

Manifest density

It could just be laziness on my part but it seems that there's a bit of a drought of new American beers in Dublin at the moment. Plenty of good stuff in the established selection, of course, and the occasional blink-and-miss one-off draught specials, but no sign of the Next Big Thing to hit us from US brewing that I can see (Sly Fox? Mebbe).

But although their beers might not be streaming this way, at least some of their brewing talent seems to be. I detect, for example, the fingerprints of a displaced yank in the Porterhouse's new beer: an 11% ABV US-style barley wine, delicately titled Louder. This thick and heavy red-brown ale wasn't done any favours by being served on cask, which intensified its hot and soupy characteristics while burying what was most likely a very generous helping of C-hops. A little colder and with some more fizz to lift it, this could be Ireland's answer to De Molen's Bommen & Granaten, but not yet.

I felt in need of a palate cleanser after that and the helpful staffer (a relatively new phenomenon in Porterhouse Temple Bar, but credit where it's due) suggested VG Noster Golden, a pale 4.8%-er from the Basque country. Bucketloads of gas here, so my tongue got well scrubbed, though it did start getting difficult to drink after a few mouthfuls. Fortunately there was plenty to keep me distracted, starting with an aroma of parma violets and what laundry detergent marketers think summer meadows smell like. This intensifies on tasting into floral honey and peach blossom. All a bit girly sounding perhaps, but it never veered near the sickly alcopop territory and I'd just about swear that the flavour combinations were all derived from malt, hops and yeast.

So there's not much new from Stateside, but still plenty of interesting new beers from closer to home.

24 June 2013

A venerable glassful

It's been a while since my last Belgian oud bruin, that slightly sweet, slightly sour, medium-strong dark copper ale. So here's Paulus from Van Eecke in Watou: 6% ABV with a no-nonsense label that might be retro but looks more like an authentic throwback to me.

As honest and simple as its graphic design, the flavour starts with the savoury-sweetness of tamarind or prune, adding a dusting of red summer berries before rounding off on a balsamic sourness. The strength isn't apparent at all and only the building tanginess which eventually occupies the palate uncomfortably, stops it from being a quaffer.

Meatier than Rodenbach but a lot gentler than Rodenbach Grand Cru, Paulus is the happy medium of Flemish brown ale.

20 June 2013

Duck à l'ananas

Dropping in to L. Mulligan Grocer one sunny Friday recently I noticed that they had a damn near perfect selection of summer's evening cask beers. On the handpumps were O'Hara's IPA and Dungarvan Helvick Gold, the latter being the perfect accompaniment to beer garden relaxation. It's very rare that I pass it up, but down the bar squatted the new gravity cask which was serving Gold by Dancing Duck, a Derbyshire brewery which regularly features at LMG's sister pub W.J. Kavanagh's. I decided I'd chance a pint.

It arrived rather darker than expected, more orange-amber than proper gold. There was a mere speckle of white on the surface in lieu of a head, but it definitely wasn't flat, providing more of an insistent prickle of fizz than is normal for cask, so no complaints here. The aroma is that of an old fashioned sweetshop, with alluring but indistinct sticky candy delights. On tasting, this becomes a massive hit of pineapple: fresh, wet, sweet and juicy. Other flavours don't get a look-in until the finish when it turns nicely tart, with a bit of rhubarb acidity lending it a pleasant mouth-watering send-off.

Oddly, nobody I was with thought it was any good, and even proprietrix Seaneen wasn't sure if it was fit to be served. I wouldn't say I'm the fussiest drinker in the world, but I fail to see how anything could have been wrong with this just the way it was. Gustibus non disputandum and all that. Me, I was looking out for it again on the next sunny day to roll round.

When it did, I found myself in W.J. Kavanagh's, inspecting the handpumps. No Gold, but there was Dancing Duck Ay Up instead, and it was no hardship. 3.9% ABV, a very pure pale golden colour and with the mild waxy bitterness softened by ripe jaffa orange that are the hallmark flavours of English hops doing what they do best. Summer sessionability defined.

Seems like it's weather for ducks whenever the sun shines.