28 April 2018


This blog turns 13 today, and anyone who has been reading it for a while will doubtless have noticed that I write more about Diageo beers than I used to. The reason, of course, is that there are simply more of them these days, since the Open Gate Brewery came on stream. For the record, I have always sought out and written about anything the multinational has released locally: you'll find reviews of The Brewhouse Series from 2005/6, Guinness Black Lager from 2010, Smithwick's Pale Ale from 2011, and so on. Hell, I've even taken notes on Harp. It's easy to think that The Brewers Project and Open Gate represented a turnaround in how the company sees the market, but of course they weren't, merely an extension into another segment of it.

And so it is that the latest Diageo release, Rockshore, is pitched at a whole different audience. It was developed at Open Gate Brewery, just like all Diageo's beers, but it doesn't bear its name, nor even that of Guinness. It's a 4% ABV lager of unspecified style. I haven't yet seen it for individual sale in the off trade -- eight cans or six bottles seem to be the only options. A pint it was, so, at the airport. "Best served ice cold" said the branded glass, and the bar definitely tried to optimise my experience, nearly giving me frostbite in the process. That produced a sensation very similar to the Coors Light experiment I ran a few years back: the beer is thick; syrupy and sweet. The first hit of flavour was ripe red apples, a lot like a sugary alcopoppish cider. That does fade quickly, but there's absolutely nothing behind it, for good or ill.

In its favour, it's not watery, it's not harshly carbonated and it does taste of something. In the minus column what it tastes of is not beer, isn't pleasant, and the thickness strips it of refreshment power, which I'd have thought would be one of the aims.

Two thirds of the way down my pint I discovered I had grown accustomed to the apples, and by the end I could see how someone would be happy to drink another straight afterwards. Not me though. Not when there's Galway Hooker on the bar and 40 minutes before my flight is called.