04 March 2015

Luck of the draw

There was a raffle at the Beoir Christmas party at 57 The Headline, with a top prize of a box of Irish beers hand picked by the chairman Reuben. I never win anything so was very surprised when my number came out of the hat. Even better, there were a few in the set that I'd never tasted before. Cue this blog post.

Puck Pilsner by Jack Cody's of Drogheda had been on my must-drink list for a while. It was a perfect clear gold colour on the first pour and had plenty of head retention, though perhaps I shouldn't have used a glass with so many nucleation points at the bottom. Still, drinking through the foam wasn't a hardship: there's a gorgeous sharp and bitter herbal effect from the concentrated oils. Underneath, it's pretty plain fare with light grass up front though bitterer on the finish. The body is rounded and comfy, more like a helles than a pointy pils. I don't get much malt, though there's more than a hint of candyfloss in the aroma. And maybe a whisper of cardboard oxidation too, but you'd need to be a real fusspot to notice. Stylistically, Puck earns its pilsner stripes better than most any Irish beer out there. Be warned, however, that it's bottle conditioned and if you don't have a steady hand you'll end up with something more like a kellerbier.

A witbier to follow: Mescan's Westport White. There was lots of spume on opening so it took me a while to pour, noticing a sharp lemony aroma as I did so. The colour is a little on the pale side for the style though the ABV is a totally typical 5%. Its flavour is also true-to-style though very much on the dry end of the scale. There's a chalky crispness and a somewhat harsh beeswax bitterness at first. It mellows as it warms, with hints of honey and lemon meringue peeping through. Overall it's just a little too severe for my liking: I'd prefer more of the spice and fruit you find in the mainstream Belgian examples.

That just leaves Altered Amber by 12th Abbey, a label-sticker brand which gets beers brewed by Brú Brewery in Meath. This is the first of their three beers to come my way and is 4.2% ABV and a clear, dark red-brown. The promised citrus aromas are there, though a little muted. Its flavour is complex and interesting, starting bitter and vegetal, turning to bitter coffee roast, adding in a little toffee and a little candied fruit, and then finishing dry and rather metallic, a little unpleasantly gastric and saccharine. I'd heard it being described as a plain Irish red, but it's not, there's definitely a bigger hop element. I'd place it closer to crisp English bitter like Adnams or St Austell's Trelawny, though not as good as either. The acidic finish builds as it goes and I was finding it tough drinking before the half way point. I reckon the recipe could do with some tweaking to soften it.

Definitely a mixed bag, then. Proof that raffles are not the ideal way to source new beers.

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