|Imperial Dunkel Weisse and Nitro IPA|
There were three in-house beers on offer, and I may have detected a bit of new-brewer nerves in them as all were strong and dark. It's hard to go wrong with strong and dark, right? The weakest, at 6.4% ABV, was a Milk Stout, considerably overclocked for the style, I think. It wasn't served on nitro, but was very cold so tasted quite plain to begin with. My first impression was that it was spot-on for this generally pedestrian style, but it woke up later, revealing a sharp carbonic bite and a heavy roast that vied for supremacy with the sweet lactose tang. It's a tough sort of beer to impress with, but I guess there wasn't anything wrong with it per se.
Pictured to the left of the Nitro IPA above, there, is Open Gate Brewery's "Imperial Dunkel Weisse". So not a doppelbock or a weizenbock, then? No. They used Guinness ale yeast for this, so a fully Germanic name didn't seem appropriate. It's 8.4% ABV though doesn't taste it, with the sticky caramel foretaste balanced nicely by a properly bitter finish. It's not Aventinus but it's definitely swerving in that direction: less chewy and with more of a burnt complexity. As an experimental brewpub beer, from any brewpub, it would get a bemused thumbs up before we move on to something else.
edited to add: I tasted this again three weeks later and it was much improved: far rounder and smoother than previously, though with a bit of an appley tang.
edited to add: the old-fashioned quality shouldn't be surprising as this is a tweaked version of the Smithwick's Barley Wine recipe, last brewed at the Macardle-Moore brewery before it was closed by Diageo in 2000. It's stronger than SBW's 5.5% ABV and uses Galaxy hops which of course would have been unheard of.
So, while I'm impressed at the concept, the set-up and the scenery at The Open Gate, I remain to be impressed by the beer. On the night, I reverted to Foreign Extra Stout fairly soonish: it was still the best beer present. I hope they don't lose track of the beer as the point of the exercise. I'm also a little dismayed at the access arrangements: they're limited to opening for five hours on just Thursday and Friday evenings, and as a result, you have to book. That's fine for beer tourists looking for an alternative to the showy soullessness of The Storehouse, but I can't see Dubliners making much use of it like that. I do hope a practical solution to allow for walk-ins can be found at some stage. A new beer is promised every fortnight and it would be nice if trying it didn't mean buying a €6 advance ticket for a flight that includes it.
That said, something pale and hoppy would be good next. Is there spare sack of Mosaic lying around?