12 April 2014

No disclaimer large enough

We interrupt our regularly scheduled nothing-at-all to bring news of a new Irish beer which has just started appearing in specialty beer bars around the country. Beoir#1 is the result of a crowd-funding initiative by Black's Brewery in Kinsale. Among the incentives was the opportunity to have a custom batch of beer made, and a group of Beoir members clubbed together to commission that. In the interests of transparency, I was one of the commissioning members, but also in the interests of transparency I had no input into the recipe (other than the occasional vote): all that was left to people much more adept at such things, nor did I attend the brewday, which happened on 8th March last (videos of the day from two of the attendees are here and here).

Back when we were discussing what sort of beer to make, it was mentioned that there was no big and hoppy double IPA being made in Ireland, so we decided to use the opportunity to send out a signal that this is the sort of beer that at least some consumers would like to exist. Of course, in the intervening months the Galway Bay Brewery pre-empted us with their amazing Of Foam & Fury, but we stuck to our guns, opting for a slightly higher strength (9% ABV) and a different hop bill: Citra, Galaxy, Summit and Topaz, for maximum fruit impact.

With all the funders' allocation bottled up last Monday, there was a small amount left over for kegging and distribution. On Thursday night the first of these was tapped at 57 The Headline and yesterday I went in for my first taste.

It arrived a dark orange colour, topped by the sort of light tan head you only get on the stickiest of strong hop bombs. It's not sticky at all, however: the texture is surprisingly light and masks the alcohol well. The aroma is very different to what I was expecting. Instead of citrus or pine, it smells of boozy warmth and gentle old-fashioned spices: a bit like hippocras, which might possibly be the worst descriptor I've ever used on this blog. And on tasting it's clear that the malts are very much in control. There are lots of dark flavours of biscuit and even chocolate, though that light texture and a strong tannic presence keeps things from getting cloying. And what are the hops up to while all this is going on? Well there's no doubting the bitterness: a sharp bite opens proceedings and it leaves a resinous coating in the mouth afterwards, but of the zingy zesty fruit I had been hoping for there is no sign, unfortunately.

Perhaps it's a good thing that it's so different from Of Foam & Fury, and indeed from O'Hara's Double IPA. Good for diversity in the Irish double IPA market (because that's a thing now), and good that each of these three beers are doing different things within the style instead of treading on each others' toes. If you want to try it next to Galway Bay's DIPA, you can do that today at The Salt House, and probably later in The Oslo. Beoir#1 is also pouring at The Bierhaus in Cork, and is expected at Farrington's in Dublin and the Franciscan Well Easter Festival in due course. We're doing our best to keep track of its whereabouts here.

Thanks, finally, to Nigel who led the recipe development, Andrew and Reuben who did so much in the background to make this happen and especially to long-suffering brewer Sam Black for coming up with this crazy idea and actually seeing it through. We must do it all again some time.


  1. Anonymous4:45 am

    Question: how long has home brewing been legal in Ireland? Or has it always been legal? I had no idea all these microbreweries were popping up in the Republic. I've been narrowing myself to Guinness!

    1. I think it was in 1992 that the Irish government finally lifted the requirement for home breweries to pay duty. Like in the UK, the law was intended for big houses brewing on a near-commercial scale. That said, I'd bet that by 1992 no home brewer had actually paid the duty in a long time.

  2. Professor Pie-Tin9:34 pm

    I'm going to try this in the Bierhaus next week but if all I get is a shitload of the same dick-comparing hops that every other craft brewer seems to be producing I know I'm going to be disappointed.
    Yet again.
    I know. I shouldn't judge in advance.But there is previous when it comes to this.

  3. Professor Pie-Tin10:17 am

    I take it all back.Quite hoppy but lovely stuff altogether.More of the same please.

    1. Not as bitter as the taste of your words? Mwuah ha haa! Glad you liked it. There won't be any more.

  4. Professor Pie-Tin3:13 pm

    You can get a very nice pizza in the Bierhaus but not, as far as I know, a helping of humble pie.
    I only wish I could wash down either with some Windjammer but no sign of it as yet this year.
    They say it's to do with organic hops .... ???

  5. Windjammer, much like myself, will be at The Franciscan Well this weekend.

  6. Professor Pie-Tin4:34 pm

    Only time for a flying visit and a pint of Windjammer on Cask.Lovely jubbly.
    And a glass of 9 White Deer IPA which was excellent.
    My barely legal son ( er,nearly ) declared the Stonehouse draught cider to be " mint " which I'm told is good.I may have just saved him from a lifetime of Bulmers.