20 July 2015

Siren call

There are more Siren beers coming into Dublin than I can keep up with, a phenomenon which delights me. The importer is also the management of The Beer Market so that's where I've encountered most of them, including...

Siren and Omnipollo Life's a Peach, a 6.4% ABV IPA which tastes like the union of a marijuana bud and a pineapple: heavy and resinous in texture and flavour, but with a breezy tropical fruit zing bursting out of the oils. It delivers a lovely fresh hop sensation which coats the palate without getting too sticky or cloying and without any trace of bitterness or harsh acidity. Added lactose and peaches? Who cares? This is just a pure quality IPA with no perceptible extra weirdness.

Sticking with the orangey IPAs, Dippy & The Equinox is a double IPA Siren produced with the help of Oregon brewery Boneyard. It presents dense and opaque, and innocently pale. However, it explodes violently on the palate, shedding a napalm bitterness that shocks at first and fades only gradually. The flavour it brings with it is a beautiful but deadly mix of gunpowder and mandarins. The fruit doesn't last quite as long as I'd like it to, getting replaced by a rather harsh waxyness after a short while. Overall, though, a beautifully constructed complex hop powerhouse.

With this sort of hit rate there just had to be a failure, and it came in the form of Liquid Monstrous, a beefed up version of Siren's rather tasty red IPA Liquid Mistress. Its appearance did it no favours at all: a very muddy red-brown. The aroma started well, with zingy orange sherbet, but it was no surprise to get a waft of mucky yeast sludge with that as well. It doesn't taste yeasty, mind, though there was a definite gritty quality in the texture. Instead it's hot and sharply bitter, big hops being part of that, but there's also a coffee-like bitterness from, I assume, the dark malts. Cherry fruit flavours lighten it only slightly, but it wasn't enjoyable drinking and lacked the usual bright and clear flavours I've come to expect from Siren beers, even the hazy ones.

We switch over to The Porterhouse next. Calypso showed up as their €4 bottled special a while back and that was enough to draw me in to try it. This is a 4% ABV Berliner weisse, dry-hopped with varieties that vary from batch to batch. Code G377 tells me I got one with Mosaic. It poured clearer than I expected, with just a slight haze through the gold. The head dissipates quickly, the millpond surface giving off enticing aromas of lemon sherbet, dank resins and the promise of a puckering sourness too. The sour leaps to the front of the queue on tasting, a big smack of tangy vinegar. But in proper Berliner weisse fashion it fades very quickly. First in behind it is a crisp and grainy, wheaty effect of the sort that predominates in Berliner Kindl's weisse. The hops don't do much here, adding little more than a whiff of urinal cake to the finish, but they don't get in the way. This hits exactly the refreshment points that a beer like this is supposed to and is, I would say, capable of resetting even the most jaded of mid-session palates.

And home again for the last one: Bones of a Sailor Part III. This is a 9.5% ABV imperial porter brewed with vanilla, raspberries and cacao and then aged in Pedro Ximinéz barrels. That's a lot to put on a label but the flavour does a great job of reminding you about all of it as soon as the dense black liquid goes in your mouth. The raspberries are first: an unmistakeable fruity tartness that shouldn't really be so obvious in a strong dark beer, but like that raspberry imperial stout Thornbridge did, it's very very present here. Pedro Ximinéz is so fashionable for beer ageing these days that I bought a bottle of the dark sherry when I was last in Spain to find out what it is. And as well as looking like it, this beer really tastes of it too, all sweetly tannic like plump boozy raisins. Vanilla and dark chocolate are present -- but only just -- underneath this, and I guess they're flavours you'd expect to find in an unadulterated oak-aged porter anyway. There's a smoky roast quality too, just in case you weren't sure that this busy concoction started life as a real beer. Though quite sticky, it's buoyed up by a busy prickle that helps with the drinkability. I was expecting a heavy and rich beer entirely unsuited to the sunny afternoon on which I drank it but the raspberry acid cuts through all that and gave me a powerhouse porter that's also really rather refreshing.

Liquid Monstrous notwithstanding, I'm in no rush to change my current high opinion of this brewery.

1 comment:

  1. Siren is the brewery that makes me wish Michael Jackson were still around. He would love it so much.