A couple of new ones from the brewery on the edge of Dublin today. Rascal's has been striking a balance between maintaining a presence for its three core beers, all of which have changed for the better in the year or so that they've been available, and turning out specials, under its own marque and under the Brewtonic badge in Dublin's Bodytonic bars.
The latter has included Same Sex, which I caught up with in The Back Page. It's a saison brewed to commemorate today's equal marriage referendum. Doesn't the presidential minimum age referendum deserve a beer too? Anyway, Same Sex is 6% ABV and a clear pale lemon-yellow, arriving without much by way of head. It smells (forgive me) quite fruity, and there's a light crispness at the front of the flavour but the main feature is a nectarine tartness mixed with some sweeter mango and pineapple. The alcohol is quite apparent too, but just as it was getting too much there's a gunpowder spice note which offsets the worst of the boozy esters. On balance, I like my saisons to be lighter and drier than this one, and while I enjoyed the complexity, it left me wishing for something cleaner to follow. The bar is promising a free glass of this to everyone when the result is declared tomorrow.
The other newcomer is an IPA and part of a sequence of nationally-hopped beers. Following last February's Kiwi Pale Ale comes Wunderbar employing Mandarina Bavaria and Hallertau Blanc from Germany. I got my first taste, followed by several pints, at the launch event in 57 The Headline.
6% ABV once again, it's a surprisingly pale gold colour with a light, crisp texture. If you like your hoppy beers to be roaring with tropical fruit you can jog on, but if you're looking for something more unusual this is unmissable. The flavour mixes a kind of burnt orange bitterness with a sticky honeydew melon sweetness. There's a generous dose of tannins for added drinkability and a yeast bite which provides a spicy edge without getting in the way of the hops. This beer pulls in several directions at once but it all serves an overall blend of flavours that I really enjoyed. On this evidence, more new wave German hops would be very welcome in Irish beer.
More from the Rascal's to come next week. But in the meantime, don't forget to vote.
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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