Yesterday's post was about Diageo's attempt to take advantage of Ireland's growing appetite for new beers. It's far from the only major player in the country to do so. In fact, they're all at it. Forever nipping at Diageo's heels is Heineken, and the Dutch behemoth has taken a very different approach with its latest offering.
While the new Guinness porters were released with huge fanfare and saturation marketing, Rising Road Pale Ale is almost a stealth beer. Only for the fact that it seems to mostly show up in bars where Heineken has a foot firmly in the door -- the places that have Tiger and Paulaner on tap already -- there's no way of even beginning to guess where it comes from.
My first impression on ordering a pint is that it's not "pale" by any stretch of the imagination, but is resolutely copper coloured. Tastewise it has a lot in common with its Diageo lookalike Smithwick's: a similar crispness and the slightly metallic tang of English hops. At the centre there are lots of very clean and quenching tannins, and hiding behind this a toffee base that gradually comes out of its shell as the beer warms.
The low-level hopping, and flavour generally, is certain to disappoint those drinkers who have just started associating the phrase "pale ale" with bold citrus bitterness. It certainly disappointed me. That said, it's technically flawless and perfectly potable. Though if it's priced higher than Smithwick's on the same bar, on account of being a pale ale dontcherknow, it's not worth paying the premium.
Edited to add: Rising Road appears to have been subsequently rebranded as "Cute Hoor". The tap badge still doesn't mention Heineken.
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