06 July 2016

Hear me growl

So my local supermarket got a growler station in. It's mounted on an island bar in the off licence section and features two taps of microbrewed Irish beer, one permanent (so far), the other rotating. Growlers are available in one litre and two litre sizes, priced at €11 and €22 for the vessel and its first fill, with the beer costing €7 and €14 thereafter. It's spendy for supermarket beer, no doubt. But then they sent out a voucher to local loyalty card holders offering a large growler with the beer of one's choice for a tenner. Cleverly, the permanent beer is exclusive to the growler circuit, so I was in.

The serving experience was, to put it simply, poor. For one thing they aren't using metric growlers: my 2L one is lined at 64 US-ounce (1.9L) and wasn't filled near the line, the top of the neck containing just foam. I didn't get to see it poured but when it was produced for me from behind the counter it was still cold so I was happy that it had been filled recently. But because the cap hadn't been screwed on tight it leaked on the way home and the extra head space meant that by the time I got round to drinking it a couple of days later it had lost pretty much all of the fizz. My general growler-scepticism is hereby reinforced. But how was the beer?

Wicklow Wolf Copper Mountain High is, as the name suggests, an amber red colour and has a bit of welly at 5.6% ABV. Though almost devoid of condition when I poured it, there was plenty of complexity to be found in the flavour. First impression was of an English bitter: a plummy dark fruit centre surrounded by a dry, sharply tannic, quality which scores the palate at the outset and sands it down in the finish. And amongst all the serious beeriness there's a fun strawberry flavour as well, a sweet tang that does wonders to aid the drinkability, and then a tiny pinch of burnt roast to re-balance matters.

I had no problem getting through three-and-a-bit pints of this in a single sitting. And I honestly think the flatness helped accentuate its English stylings: it was still superbly refreshing even with no more than an effete prickle to it. Copper Mountain High would be a go-er on cask, but sadly the brewery doesn't do cask. I guess a badly-poured growler is the next best thing.

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