More west than south, really. All of today's beers are from Connacht microbreweries. The province's most prolific operation is, of course, Galway Bay. Their latest pilot batch was a Peanut Butter Stout, a hotly anticipated release, at least among those who didn't immediately go "ewww". It was a little bit of a let-down in the end. The name conjures rich, oily savoury peanut flavours but instead what we got was a fairly decent unexciting dry stout at 5.5% ABV. There is some lovely chocolate in the aroma, while the flavour blends dry crunchy roast, sweet caramel and just the faintest hint of savoury peanut. The latter is a little more apparent in the keg version, I thought, though there's not a huge difference between the two dispense methods.
Staying in Galway, and the paradoxically named Dublin Brewer Blonde, produced by Independent Brewing in Carraroe exclusively for The Larder on the capital's Parliament Street. I was bowled over by the Pale Ale from the same range so hopes were high for this. Unfortunately it doesn't come through. It's obviously intended to be inoffensive: beer for those diners who don't really like beer. But instead of crisp and dull, it's a bit bleachy, while the malt and hops provide elements of golden syrup, bubblegum, digestive biscuit and an acrid bitterness right at the end. I don't think I've ever criticised a beer for being too full-flavoured before, and that's not the problem here, but the elements don't sit well together and that swimming pool foretaste just spoils the party for me. Stick to the Pale Ale, folks.
And finally to Leitrim and the companion beer to the Pipers Pale Ale I reviewed a couple of weeks ago: Brazen Amber Ale. It's available on draught but I've yet to cross paths with it at a convenient time so this review is based on the bottled version which is 4.2% ABV. It pours a beautiful clear dark amber, though rather headless after the first fizz subsides and it smells grainy, something which follows through in the flavour. There's almost a porterish dark grain quality coupled with a Lucozade-like artificial fruit. The dry grain is firmly ascendant over the hops, putting it somewhere below the bar for amber ale, though in the happy place for Irish red. It's a perfectly decent drinkable beer, but if American amber ale is in your head when you pop the cap it's time to recalibrate.
Not the greatest of ambassadors for the Irish brewing scene, these, but the wonderful thing about beer is you never have to wait long for the next one.
Footnote from Munster: The new version of Hurricane IPA from Eight Degrees is an absolute belter. See, I knew it wouldn't be long.