13 April 2015

Flight of the wolf

The Wicklow Wolf Brewing Company was kind enough to invite a Beoir delegation down to its headquarters in Bray for a look round and a run through the range. Established in 2014 by ex-home brewers inspired by the Colorado way of life, the compact ex-bakery near the station is now turning out 1,650 litres of beer at a time, 12 times a month, supplying 50 pubs and 200 off licences (yes, I took notes) with a range of four core beers and varying specials, all delivered unfined and unfiltered.

The brewery has been kitted out well for its new use, and particularly impressive is the tasting bar at the front: the sort of thing you'd be more likely to see in the US or London than Wicklow. Sadly it's not open for general public use. Stupid licensing laws.

I had been hoping to get a taste of the latest Wicklow Wolf seasonal, Falconer's Flight Blonde, but Quincey informed me that it had all left the brewery at that stage. Luckily, I happened across a bottle in DrinkStore a few days later and snapped that up. I still had a bottle of their last seasonal Blonde, Locavore, knocking around so I decided to open them side-by-side for comparison.

Six months on from brewing, Locavore has calmed down a little. The bitter lemon-and-wax effect I perceived when I first drank it has mellowed and there's more of a gentle sweetness going on. The new kid, however, has all of that wax in spades. Though the same colour and a tiny bit stronger, Falconer's Flight Blonde is assertively bitter, almost heading for a metallic tang. I noticed the fill level on the bottle was lower than on the Locavore and I'm putting the lighter carbonation down to that. After a moment or two at room temperature the malt starts to make its presence felt, adding an insistent honey and bubblegum complexity. The end result is something that tastes very much like a northern English golden bitter. Maybe not quite Boltmaker, but close your eyes and wish and you're nearly in the zone. The Falconer's Flight hop blend may be classically American, but this beer is a long way from Colorado.

Cheers to Quincey, Simon and the team for entertaining us. Wicklow Wolf has already expanded since our visit, with new tanks installed a few weeks ago. Though space is tight I completely agree with the management that there's a tangible benefit to being part of the neighbourhood rather than  occupying just another anonymous industrial unit.

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