09 December 2016

Trouble and Hope

The brewery names sound good together, and they do have a brewer in common, but otherwise this set is unrelated, demonstrating perhaps nothing more than the diversity of Irish beer these days.

Trouble's Gung-Ho I found on draught in The Brew Dock last month. It was badged as a hopfenweisse, though this style councillor regards it as much more of a white IPA: it hosts a punch-up between spicy yeast flavours and bitter hops, resulting in a jarring soapy tangle of tastes that never settles down. It's a bit of a shame because, taken separately, the beer's different elements are lovely: there's a luscious soft wheatiness, a juicy peach aroma, and an invigorating fresh green bitterness, but there's no harmony and the drinking experience suffers as a result. Weissbier of any stripe should be smooth, and this is far too rough and pointy to fit into the genre.

A few weeks later I found another recent Trouble special, Quiet Riot, installed on a cask engine at The Black Sheep. It's described on the badge as a pale ale and is bright orange with a slight murk, so I was expecting new world grapefruit and whatnot, but it's actually quite British-tasting, for reasons more than the dispense method, I think. There's a sweet jaffa aroma which shades toward Terry's Chocolate Orange: it has that sort of concentrated orangey oiliness. Then it tastes massively tannic, with a palate-scouring dryness worthy of the brownest of brown bitters. Behind this there's a satsuma sweetness, going perhaps far enough to resemble candied orange peel, while the finish brings in a big old fashioned hop bitterness given extra punch by the dryness. Unfortunately this is almost ruined by a poopy Brett off-flavour which I suspect is not part of the act and relates more to the cask having been tapped a whole week previously. Ignoring that element, what we have here is a pretty solid bittersweet English bitter, one that doesn't taste its strength.

Crossing over to Hope, Peach & Blueberry Sour is the third in their Limited Edition series. The previous two were among the best beers I've tasted all year, so anticipation was obviously high. It's also the second sour co-production between Hope, YellowBelly and Shane Smith, and the first of those (YellowBelly's Castaway) was also magnificent. Quite the pedigree, all in all.

It blushed out of the bottle, a cheery, rosy pink, forming only the briefest of foam tops. The aroma is a dessertish mix of fruit pie and jelly. The latter was very much to the fore when I took the first sip and got a hit of those sugar-coated sour jelly sweets. As well as the sour kick, there's a similar sort of indistinct fruit flavour. I would never be able to pick actual peaches and blueberries out of this, and it really lacks the lusciousness of Castaway's passionfruit, sacrificing it for a bigger tart hit. It's a decently tangy number, refreshing and drinkable, but nothing special this time.

And a final beer which I'm wedging in following the Christmas Craft Fair at the Teeling Distillery on Saturday last. Hope were pouring and I had the opportunity to try Limited Edition number four, an Export Stout. It's a real return to form after the blip of no. 3: thick and sweet the way a 7.5% ABV stout should be, tasting first of treacle and chocolate but then balancing it with a serious old-world vegetal bitterness. While those two elements were see-sawing on my palate I caught just a glimpse of a lighter, more delicate, meadow flower perfume, a whisper of lavender in the otherwise dark and stormy big-stout flavours. It's beautifully done -- a proper stout-drinker's stout -- and one to rank alongside Leann Folláin and Guinness Foreign Extra, for as long as it lasts. Des from Hope confirmed that limited means limited with this lot, though also that a new IPA, lighter than Handsome Jack, is on the cards for the new year. Can't wait.

No comments:

Post a Comment