22 February 2017

A sequel to the prequel

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

Monday's post was a sort-of preview of the Alltech Brews & Food Festival which opens tomorrow in Dublin. I finished writing it on Sunday, scheduled it, and then went to the pub. On the taps at 57 The Headline I found two more beers from breweries who will be attending the festival so I felt I had to get them in as well before the doors opened.

I'm not sure if 5 Lamps will have Hoppy Ending available on their bar. This IPA was brewed as a Valentine's special and might have passed its natural lifespan. I wasn't much of a fan of it anyway. It's 4.5% ABV, an attractive clear gold, but rather doused in diacetyl. The hops give it a rough bitterness rather than any fun freshness, while the only fruit character in the flavour is an odd sweet strawberry kick. It's just about clean enough to be drinkable, saved by none of the flavours being too strong: it's a session beer, but not a very good one.

Happier times were had in the company of Lobo, the latest IPA from Wicklow Wolf. Nothing interferes with the hops here, beginning with a bright, spicy and leafy aroma. A serious lemon-skin bitterness opens the flavour and rips right through the palate in a thrilling fashion. It's only 5.2% ABV but it's no lightweight, tasting big in all directions at once. The word "fresh" doesn't quite cover its hop intensity. I'm more inclined to go with "raw". And yet it's not unbalanced: though absolutely and unashamedly a beer that's all about American hops, there's just enough of a malt base to prevent it turning acrid or harsh. I'd be much more keen to have a session on this.

Lobo will be accompanied at the festival by another new Wicklow Wolf IPA, a red SMASH one, called Zoso. If it's as good as Lobo we're in for a treat.

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