Work sent me to Cork for the day last Thursday. I was determined to make the most of it, which meant pizza in the back yard of Franciscan Well for lunch and after-office pints and chat in The Bierhaus, where I happened on Alain from Radik Ale. More on what he's up to soon. I stopped in at No. 21 on the way to the station for some transit beers, including the latest from Beoir Chorca Dhuibhne: Bitter Sable.
I'll say from the start it wasn't cheap: €4.49 for a half litre. My last pint in The Bierhaus cost a fair bit less than that. It's a black IPA and part of a recipe exchange with Weasel Boy brewery of Ohio. There was barely a hiss as the cap came off and indeed the carbonation proved pleasantly low. There's a lot of olde sweete shoppe about the aroma: humbugs and liquorice. It doesn't taste like an American black IPA. It tastes like a jolly nice porter, all tart dark fruit, Christmas cake and high-cocoa chocolate. There's a bitter tang from the hops but it rushes in late to the flavour, looking harried and blaming the bus driver. The party goes on regardless and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Discovering half way down that something this suppable is SEVEN per cent ABV was a shock, but I'm not complaining: a US black IPA that happens to have convergently evolved into a 19th century British stout is absolutely fine with me. It's all good.
There was a bit of buzz in The Bierhaus about the imminent release of Eight Degrees's latest beer, Oxymoron, a Kiwi wit, and a name which demonstrates that, frankly, Hiberno-Australian wit has little to feel superior about. Happily it was on its way from Cork to Dublin before I was and I managed to grab a pint early on Friday afternoon, while blending in with the youngsters at the bar of the Generator hostel in Smithfield.
Oxymoron is opaque, even by witbier standards, and is rather stronger than you'd expect for the style at 6.2% ABV. But it's definitely a wit: look there's that punchy lemon zest in the aroma and the foretaste. It takes some funny turns right after that, however. For one thing, the ABV is very apparent from the texture: much heavier than a witbier normally is, and missing the refreshment power as a result. The New Zealand hops aren't shy either, starting with a little peach and mango, but then growing into a powerful bitterness: hard, harsh and acidic, adding a raw and resinous grass flavour that lasts long into the finish, though softened slightly by some granny's-bathroom talc and lavender. I know the hops are meant to be the main act here, and they certainly live up to their billing, but Oxymoron is just another one of those beers that hits my delicate palate with its bitterness just a little harder than I like.
In summary: not enough hops in the IPA; too many in the witbier. There's just no pleasing some people.
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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