Wet night. Push the heavy front door of Alfie Byrne's. Across the threshold and down the steps. The back-and-forth buzz of conversation. And ping-pong. The bar glows at the centre of the dim room, beckoning. A new beer from a well-respected English micro was touted earlier on Twitter. There it is, minimalist design on the tap badge. But due diligence first: a glance across the other options, over and then down to... the handpump. Chalked on the blackboard Gate Crasher Bitter by Trouble Brewing. Thought I'd missed it, and certainly didn't think I'd see it on cask. A pint, please.
Settling in the handled jug to a dark amber, though not quite brown. And not quite clear, either. First pull: yeast, gritty and bitter. Behind it, tannins and floral spices. All that jasmine. Classic English bucolics and the potential for greatness, let down by poor handling. For shame.
Still chasing rumours, out into the night again, across St Stephen's Green south, past Sir Benjamin's Palladian mansion and Joyce's alma mater. Skirting by Cuffe Street flats and around the corner to Against the Grain. Busier here. Crowded by the bar. A glance at the taps, a scan of the blackboard, and back to the taps. There. Dortmunder. Galway Bay aren't known for lagers. A brave step. A pint, please.
Husky and hazy. A wan orange hue and orange marmalade-flavoured. Biting bitterness sits atop the full grainy body, its texture the only nod to real Dortmund Export. Debate: does the assertive hopping take away from the style, or an improvement, a stage in its evolution? No matter. Good beer. Enjoyable drinking.
We're a long way from Dortmund. Is that a stout on cask? A pint, please.
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