30 March 2018

Mes we can

It's over a year since I last reviewed a beer from that little bit of Belgium in Mayo, Mescan Brewery, so I'm devoting this post to a couple of theirs.

Westport Saison is first, coming on the personal recommendation of Jimmy Redmond, who also sold me the bottle. As always with saison I'm obsessing over the strength, and 6.2% ABV seems excessive. I had to pour carefully to keep the foam under control and a clear pale golden glassful was my reward. So far so good. It smells sweet and mineral-like: lemon sherbet, parma violets and bathsalts. It took a while to get a handle on the flavour as the massive carbonation kept getting in the way, punching my palate and distracting it from tasting. It's quite a simple beer behind that, with sweet lemon candy again and then dry straw and rye grass in the finish. All very pleasant in an understated way that few saison brewers seem to bother with these days.

I followed No. 72 with No. 73: Special Reserve. I'm told this is broadly a winter ale, and the dark colour and 8.4% ABV certainly back that up. It smells of coffee mixed with figs and plums, and in marked contrast with the Saison has a beautifully smooth texture. Those dark fruits are at the centre of the flavour and this time the roast is at the edge, joined by a certain dark chocolate bitterness and a gentler waft of exotic rosewater. It doesn't taste its strength, slipping back with a slick and gooey mix of Turkish delight and spiced latte, sweeter than a dubbel or quadrupel but lighter on the headachey esters and much more enjoyable for that. An excellent winter night's drinking, and a recipe I hope they continue.

Quite a contrast between these two, but they demonstrate what a great end-to-end brewer Mescan is. Their beers are easily missed in Dublin but worth seeking out if you've not had the pleasure.

28 March 2018

Wild in the beer aisle

It's one of those situations where I hear lots of people talking about a beer I see every week in the supermarket and haven't tried yet. Admittedly it doesn't happen too often, but it happened with Straffe Hendrik Wild. The concept is simple: standard Staffe Hendrik tripel innoculated with Brettanomyces, the intention being that it will transform and develop with age the way