The last in my series of posts on the Irish Craft Beer and Cider Festival, which ran at the RDS in Dublin a couple of weeks ago, moves away from the new young and thrusting breweries of the burgeoning independent Irish beer scene to look at the stalwarts: the veterans of the dark 20th century, all established and churning out safe, approachable, mortgage-paying beers, with one eye on the pension fund.
Are they hell.
Reuben's words, is "more coffee than beer". Not for everyone, but I loved it. After that, the Franciscan Well IPA was a bit of a let down. 7.5% ABV again and with some nice herbal notes in the aroma but the flavour is mostly smooth sweet toffee with no proper bitterness or fruit, just a mild jasmine spicing from the hops.
The Porterhouse have suddenly decided to make September their IPA themed month, though oddly eschewed Hop Head in favour of a new 4.6% ABV cask ale called Pale Face. There's a nice kick of marmalade in here, and some mild sandalwood, putting it on the same spectrum as good old Harvey's Best. Simple but flavoursome.
Whitewater's new one is Bullrush, a straightforward clean amber lager, dark gold with a fascinating smoky aroma. It's only 4% ABV and represents very light easy drinking. The corny grain character puts me in mind of the cream ale style. One for quaffing, not sitting over, anyway. And they've returned to the log books to resurrect Bee's Endeavour, a honey ale of years gone by. It's a beautiful liquid gold colour with a bohemian golden syrup quality to the taste. The honey hovers subtly in the background.
For a bigger honey kick the one to go for was Belgian Connection, produced at JW Sweetman in collaboration with Carlow Brewing. It's intended as a dubbel and is appropriately dark brown, though is a little light on its feet at 6.3% ABV. The banana esters loom large in the aroma and though the texture is as thin for a dubbel as the ABV might suggest, there's no lacking of complexity or intensity in the flavour: massive honey, for one thing; some incense spicing and a powerful sweetness that triggered pineapple syrup in my flavour analogy bank. Strange and unique, but quite delicious. Carlow also had O'Hara's Barley Wine on the bar, packing a bit more heft at 7.2% ABV. I guess we're spoiled by American barley wines these days because this is a perfectly good beer which left me asking where the hops are. Wheaty grains are the centre of it with a little bit of roast, but otherwise it's simple, malt-forward and warming. Retro barley wine, if you will.
And after that my liver and my feet took a well-earned break, but normal service will resume here on Monday.
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...
1 week ago