16 September 2016

Exotic tastes

A couple of random Irish IPAs today, from different corners of the island.

"a refreshing Pinacolada beer" is the promise Farmageddon makes on the label of its Gorse India Pale Ale, an effect achieved by the late addition of a "massive" quantity of gorse flowers, imparting natural coconut and pineapple flavours, plus Sorachi Ace and Mosaic hops. I don't know that I would use Sorachi if I were hoping to get a coconut effect from another ingredient, but what do I know about brewing?

It's a gassy beast, with the foam running completely out of control as I poured. Under the head it's a clear pale yellow, innocent-looking despite a whopping 6.3% ABV. Coconut and lemons in the aroma? Check. Though surprisingly, and pleasingly, the lemons are the loudest part of the combination. And it's coconut again in the flavour, with more Sorachi citrus pithiness. And not a whole lot beyond this: there's a savoury finish which I'm guessing is attributable to the allium effect of Mosaic, plus a certain crisp green vegetable note which may be the prickly gorse in action. Overall it's a simple and decent Sorachi Ace IPA, easy drinking but with a nicely full body. Warming and hearty, it looks like a summer beer but drinks more like a winter one. Ideal for the change of the seasons, then.

Galway Bay Brewery provided the next one: Phaethon, their first collaboration with Florida's Cigar City brewery. The cards are right on the table with their description of this as a "tropical IPA" and the ABV is a substantial 6.5%. Well it certainly looks like fruit juice: an almost opaque bright orange colour. And I've no quibble about the aroma which was sending out peach and mango signals even before May pushed the pint over The Black Sheep's bar towards me.

I got a surprise on the first sip: a bitter smack of piney resins that definitely belongs in latitudes further north than the tropics. This was followed by a slight, but detectable, yeast bite and then a short burst of the promised juicy tropical fruit. Not enough of it, however. After a mere second or two the hop bitterness reasserts itself and that hard acidity has the finish all to itself.

This is a decent beer, no question, but I don't think it delivers on its promise of tropicality. Fans of high hop bitterness will likely enjoy the mix; but it left me hankering for something cleaner and, well, juicier.

The next Galway Bay / Cigar City collaboration will be around next week, though of course there has been no shortage of other new Irish IPAs in between. It's back to the tasting mines for this writer.


  1. Good call on Phaethon- I felt it missed the mark on style and I felt it was an okay beer rather than the great beer it was hyped up to be.

    1. Ahh hype. Where would the jaded and cynical beer writer be without it?

  2. The Bloody Tan6:38 pm

    White Gypsy Sessionista.
    I generally don't come across a 3.8% craft beer very often but a couple of pints of this at the Rob Roy bar in Cobh last night were very good.
    Cold,crisp and slightly grapefruity with a head lasting all the way down.

  3. I haven't seen that around here but I like the name.

  4. The Bloody Tan11:12 pm

    There was only a hand-written font so I guess it might be some sort of trial run as there's nothing on the brewery website either.
    But very drinkable and still plenty of oomph for a 3.8%.