05 June 2015

The resurrection men

Session logoThe Session turns 100-months-old today. I've only written posts for 95 of them so can't claim my merit badge. And I've only hosted once: Reuben is on his third. The theme he has chosen is very much of the moment: Resurrecting Lost Beer Styles. And there's a lot of it about. Fuelled in part by new historical research, but I think mainly by brewers running out of innovative brewing ideas, dead and dying styles from around Europe and beyond seem to be back in vogue with contemporary brewers and drinkers. So it gose.

The beer I've chosen for this post probably doesn't strictly count as a resurrected historical beer, but it de facto is one. Before the Reinheitsgebot shut the apothecary shop doors in the German brewers' faces, hemp was one of the ways medieval beer-makers gave their beers extra bitterness, flavour, and doubtless psychoactive effect too. Hemp beers are still plentiful around the world, but they tend to be god-awful sugary concoctions designed more for the easily-impressed stoner market than the historical beer enthusiast. There are exceptions, however, and I'd single out Hanf by 7 Stern in Vienna and Hanf by Wädenswiler near Zurich as notable exceptions worth seeking out. A couple of weeks ago I was in The Bernard Shaw hoping to add Brewtonic Sim Simma to that list.

It's not the first Irish hemp beer: we have The Porterhouse to thank for the previous one, back in 2005. This time it's Rascal's Brewing Co. adding the pot to the kettle, via the good offices of The Hemp Company on Capel Street. The result is a hazy gold pale ale at 5% ABV. Unfortunately it doesn't really do the weedy business, lacking the beautiful herbal pepperiness of the aforementioned central European hemp beers. There is a slight resinousness to it, but that could just as easily be from the generous hopping as anything else -- the strongly bitter lip-smacking citrus punch makes up for any lack of novelty.

In short, Sim Simma is a solidly decent keg bitter and doesn't really get the value out of its hemp, other than as a talking point on the pumpclip, which I suppose is reason enough. I'd be interested in a do-over, however. Add more hemp.

And with that, I'm off to Killarney for the weekend. Drop by the INEC for a beer if you're passing.

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