The newest (I think) addition to the busy brewery scene in Co. Cork is Clonakilty Brewing Company. I hadn't expected to see their beers up here so soon but they landed recently in Drinkstore and the shop was kind enough to donate one of the samples left by the rep to this blog.
Tojo is an American-style pale ale, named in honour of the monkey that US airmen brought to Clonakilty during The Emergency. Its ABV is on the money for the real thing at 5.5% ABV, which is slightly above where Irish examples usually clock in. It's a murky orange colour, aided in no small part by the bottle conditioning and my sloppy pouring. The aroma is promising: a mix of sweet mandarin and bitterer orange pith, a little like the better sort of English bitter. Could this be Ireland's answer to Harvey's Sussex Best? Not quite.
The flavour doesn't unfold in quite the right way, being watery to begin with, and the first thing to loom out of the depths is a savoury yeast note. Behind this there is a pleasant waft of sherbet orange and lemonade, sweetly effervescent with a hint of Burtonish sulphur. But that fades quickly, replaced by more gritty yeast. At the strength I'd expect something of a rounded marmalade-on-toast effect from this hop-malt combination.
The base recipe here is absolutely sound, even excellent, but the execution needs a bit of work. I'm not sure that bottle conditioning really suits a beer with such a delicate hop profile, or at least not the way they've done it here. Well-kept on cask, however, this would be a stunner. But the chances of that showing up anywhere are probably slimmer than a monkey landing in Clonakilty.