28 February 2018

When in Cork

Bookending the visit to the Franciscan Well's Cask Ales & Strange Brews festival, which I covered on Monday, I dropped by a couple of other Cork boozers for a few swift ones.

Coming off the bus before noon I had a hunger that only a Wetherspoon breakfast could fix. The Linen Weaver had a fairly decent selection of cask on and I picked, more or less randomly, Scrum Down by Conwy Brewery, hoping it wouldn't be as poor as seasonal Six Nations tie-in ales from the UK tend to be. It wasn't. It's actually superb, a fresh and spritzy lemon number, served beautifully cool. Invigorating citrus bitters introduce it, and then there's a sweeter, softer, apricot flavour in the middle. It was a perfect post-travel refresher but I could see how, at 4% ABV, it would work brilliantly as a matchtime quaffer. But I didn't have time for that sort of thing.

Around the corner to Rising Sons, for a go of their Old Town altbier. It's getting to be a long time since I last had a genuine alt, but aren't they supposed to be brown? This one is oddly a golden colour. Both flavour and aroma are all perfume and biscuits, only one of which is normal for the style. I got a bathsalts blend of lavender, violet and assorted aromatic herbs, all set on a clean base with grainy oatcake overtones. It's tasty and refreshing, but really not what I was expecting from an altbier.

On the way to the train I dropped by the Abbot's Alehouse to check out its new transformation. The ground floor off licence is gone, now turned into a bar.

From the blackboard I selected Gladiator, a pale ale by White Gypsy. The brewery tends to be known for its aversion to big hop flavours, but this one packs a serious punch. A mix of Citra with Styrian Fox gives it a very real grapefruit taste, sharp and astringent: a proper enamel stripper. It's only 4.5% ABV so I can imagine getting comfortable with it and adjusting to the bitterness, something that would be aided by the soft texture. This is simple fun, but definitely fun nonetheless.

Finally the rare appearance of a new beer by JJ's. Pearl Dubh is a big stout of 7% ABV and has that chocolate breakfast cereal character of processed wheat mixed with sugary cocoa powder. That doesn't sound great but it's pretty decent, the sharp husky edges all smoothed out and the dry and sweet sides balanced harmoniously. It gets filling quite quickly so I was glad to have just a half, as well as a train to run for.

Always a pleasure, Cork.