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.
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.
Westmalle Dubbel - *Origin: Belgium | Date: 2008 | ABV: 7% | On The Beer Nut: October 2007* It's a longtime favourite today. Westmalle Dubbel goes back to the very beginnings...
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