30 May 2018

Heverlee body

A trip north to see family brought me to the local hotel for some simple-but-decent Saturday evening grub. I was bemused to see here, in a near total deadzone for interesting beer, that the menu had a range of offerings from Station Works brewery and even a simple pairing guide, for matching your choice of food to seven styles of beer, including hefeweizen and brown ale. I wasn't going to get involved in that, so just a Foxes Rock IPA for me, please. "Oh, no, we don't have anything like that" replied the waitress. On asking what beers they did have, I was faced with a choice between Guinness, Smithwick's, Carlsberg, Tennent's, Heverlee and Stella. The Northern Irish draught beer market is largely sewn up between Diageo and C&C, so it shouldn't have been surprising to see here a 50/50 split between the brands the companies distribute. I overcame my disappointment by ordering a pint of the one from that list I'd never tasted before.

Heverlee is rarely seen south of the border. C&C only seems to roll it out in places where they're blocking a range of taps in a bar where they've bought counter space by the metre. It's quite commonplace in Northern Ireland and Scotland, presented as a sophisticated option by dint of being named after a suburb of Leuven, while actually being brewed in Glasgow alongside the Tennent's. The evening's pleasant surprise was that it's actually quite good. I found it very true-to-style for a helles, with that full and almost chewy body and flavours of spongy white bread and celery fresh from the crisper. It achieves this at just 4.8% ABV too. The beer it reminded me most of is Spaten: the same smooth drinkability; easy without being boring. Maybe it just caught me on a good day, but I'd happily have a few more of these, and it's streets ahead of the lagers C&C have been turning out down in Clonmel.

Beer fanatics of Mid-Ulster (hi Steve!) have their work cut out for them, but a readily-available Spaten clone would certainly take the edge off for me.

28 May 2018

May have been drinking

I nearly let May go past without a random Irish beer round-up. And it's not like I haven't been drinking random Irish beers. Let's see