16 March 2018

A Suir thing

Reuben's stag weekend brought a small and very well-behaved group of beer fans to Waterford for a couple of days' civilised tippling.

Action centred on two of the city's pubs in particular, beginning at the new Metalman bar, following a visit to the brewery. It's a neat little place, in a former biker bar on the quayside. Obviously the Metalman range is the main stock in trade, but the guest list is interesting too, with ever-rotating guest beers on tap.

I started on one from Dublin to ease myself in before trying anything too exotic. Carnavale is your standard guava and coconut wheat ale, brewed by Hopfully and obviously channelling the brewery's Brazilian roots, with collaborative input from Brewtonic. It looks like coconut milk: an opaque greenish off-white. The guava really comes out in the flavour, producing a full-on tropical fruit effect which all but obscures the beer qualities. I didn't really get the coconut, which hovers in the background, more a seasoning than a main flavour. Though brewed for the pre-Lent festivities, this would work well as a summer refresher as it's only 4.3% ABV and slips back very easily indeed. It might be too sweet for more than a pint or two, however.

Not to be outdone, Metalman also had a wheaty fruit beer on offer: Jungle Boogie, based on their wheat lager Equinox, with added raspberry, grapefruit and orange juice. I'm no tropical botanist but I don't think any of those are native to the jungle. Anyway, it's a very modest 3.7% ABV and even sweeter than Carnavale. It's pretty simple too, with the raspberry the most prominent flavour but even it doesn't hang around long and the whole thing finishes quickly. This is a quirky novelty, but no more than that.

Closer to the centre of town is Tully's Bar. This well-worn traditional pub feels like it's been around forever but it's only been Tully's since late 2015. Like its twin in Carlow town, the beer offer is taken seriously, with the mainstream industrials on tap at one end of the bar and a range of independent offerings up front.

Another Dublin beer is how I opened my account here. I hadn't seen Hope New England IPA on sale anywhere at home, which is a pity because it's beautiful. I'll get to why in a minute, but significantly, unlike the vast majority of New England-style beers coming out of Dublin breweries these days, it displays the features which I regard as the essentials of the style. It's properly hazy for a start, and pleasingly orange rather than beige. The body is big and smooth while the flavour is primarily juicy and sweet, all jaffa and mandarin, with overtones of Fanta. A very mild dankness follows but it never goes as far as onion or garlic. It's only 5% ABV too, which makes it very pintable: a mature New England IPA for the more considered drinker. That will do me nicely.

Something from a little closer to the bar next: Black's of Kinsale's Pale Face Killer, an India pale lager. It arrived a hazy amber colour and tasted surprisingly sweet. The hops give it a kind of fruit-chew effect, or maybe lemon sherbet. We're definitely at the sweet counter either way. That's fine as a flavour profile, but where this guy really falls down is the texture. Presumably going for clean, it ends up thin and watery, causing those perfectly good candy hops to fade off the palate far too quickly leaving nothing behind. I would have thought 4.8% ABV was enough to give this proper heft, but it wasn't to be, unfortunately.

Many other beers were had, and Waterford is shaping up to be quite a decent little beer destination, drawing in products from the many breweries around the south and east of the country. The imminent arrival of a YellowBelly bar will improve it further. It just needs a beer festival now...


  1. Syd Differential1:57 pm

    You started on a guava and coconut wheat ale " before trying anything too exotic. "
    I laughed.

    1. Well, it is only brewed a few km from my house.