22 January 2015

Two portraits of hops

Another rattle of the Brown Paper Bag last month yielded two new beers from the Dublin-based gypsy brewing collective, both created at Gadd's Ramsgate Brewery in Kent.

On a Thursday evening in early December I trekked up to The Back Page on Phibsborough Road -- no hardship really; it's a lovely pub and worth going out of one's way for. Lupe Garou, for such is the new beer's name, is available kegged only, and Baggers Colin and Brian were present to launch it. This is a 100% wet-hop ale, made with lots of freshly-harvested East Kent Goldings on a base of nothing but classic English malt Maris Otter, up to a weighty 6.5% ABV. It certainly shows off the features of the hop, in very clear terms: waxy bitterness, turning even towards a herbal honey effect at the extreme edges. The strength lends it a certain amount of golden syrup unctuousness, but really it's all about those stern and serious English hops. It's a fun and creative use for ingredients we tend to take for granted, but they're also the reason it's not a headline grabber: you have to really like traditional English ale flavours to be wowed by this.

Just over a week later, the lads were working late again, this time in top south Dublin offy Redmond's of Ranelagh. The occasion was another new beer, Howrye [pronounced "how'r'yeh", with an interrobang and a cheeky Sligo wink]: a 10% ABV rye wine. What's really interesting with this one is the Projecteers did not consider it ready when first bottled several months ago, so have been storing it to let it mellow and mature. And the result is spectacular: all the flavour from the US hops, and Chinook in particular, is still there, all oily and palate-coating. But there are no bitter edges, not a trace of harshness, and while it's warming it's not hot or even particularly boozy. Howrye slips down easily like a smooth liqueur, flavoured with bright peppery and citric flavours. It's great to not have to wonder if it'll improve with age: I suspect that this is at its absolute peak and highly recommend getting stuck into it now in case those bright hops start to fade.

Cheers to Colin and Brian for the free samples, however I did actually buy some Howrye of my own, and will quite likely buy more.


  1. Good to hear that they made a judgement not to stick Howrye out when it wasn't ready. Not sure that happens quite as often as it should -- bitter, harsh and hot are tasting notes we find ourselves jotting down a little too frequently.

    1. Ahh, that's just the brewer's friendly way of telling you to buy more bottles and cellar them.

      Though I do think that time is an extra luxury available to those who brew as a side project rather than their main occupation.

  2. Reading this, I'd really like to try the Howrye. Maybe I can get my mother to bring a bottle over next month :) Or keep a bottle for me, and I'll pop by in Summer!