I don't know if it's entirely fair to be including the fourth-biggest brewing multinational in this week's series. C&C recently set up their own brewery at headquarters in Clonmel where they're currently pumping out the rather lacklustre Clonmel 1650 lager. But before that, they took an almost-total stake in the 5 Lamps microbrewery in Dublin, a two-hander run by Brian and William, which appears to have complete freedom to brew what they like.
With the lack of diktats comes a lack of logistical support, I guess, which is why the tap badge in The Norseman for The Tenters Brown Ale, their latest, was a circle of paper sellotaped to the keg font, with the name picked out on a portable label printer. Now that's craft. The Tenters is everything you want from a brown ale: a crisp dry bite of roasty grain husk next to lusciously smooth milk chocolate and slightly salty caramel. Like their Blackpitts Porter, it's a solid, no-frills drinking beer with plenty of flavour.
The Tenters is easily the best of the beers I've reviewed this week and while I think corporate structure rarely if ever correlates to beer quality, the method of production here may just contain a wee clue, a signpost, for any of the other big brewing concerns interested in breaking into this new and possibility lucrative market segment, Beer For People Who Enjoy The Taste Of Beer.