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 what's in the notebooks.

Whiplash made a few waves with its Northern Lights "micro IPA". It's only 2.8% ABV so obviously one would expect thin and watery. It's not though, not at all. The appearance is thickly beige, typical of many a haze-craze DDH DIPA. This continues in the creamy mouthfeel, and a flavour of milkshake-like vanilla, a twang of garlic and some yeast bite. It's not to my taste but I know plenty of people who like this sort of thing and it's very impressive at the strength. On the other hand, a 475ml glass in UnderDog cost €7.95, and that's a lot of money to pay to see a magic trick.

Lacada's new one, Escudos, is also going for a New Englandy vibe, and also at a modest strength: 4.5% ABV. I wasn't a fan of this either, the gritty yeast making it harsh and sharp, with an unpleasant whiff of bleach in the aroma with the stonefruit. There a soft, fruity and quenching beer in here somewhere, but the execution is off. Thanks to Simon for the pre-release preview taster.

Another juicy sessioner? All right then. This is Juice Ball from Black's of Kinsale, on tap at Drop Dead Twice for their Star Wars Day tap takeover. We're up to a dizzying 4.8% ABV here, and finally some clean flavours. Sweet yet pithy mandarin is the centrepiece, with a heavier resinous dank in the background. It's light, and maybe a little watery, but forgivably so; well built for a sunny summer session.

On the May Bank Holiday I took a spin up to Howth to see how the nanobrewery in The Harbour Bar was getting on. There didn't seem to be much action at the brewhouse but there is a house lager: Just Crafty. I was assured it's brewed on a separate pilot kit. Hmm. I was given a beautifully clear golden pint, one with a sweet corny foretaste followed by a drier mineral finish and emerging fruit esters as it warmed. No rough edges; nothing that suggests early-career out-of-town brewpub. A lot that suggests, to me, rebadged Wicklow Wolf Arcadia. Drop me a line if you know the full story, or if I'm being unreasonably suspicious.

Moving on to more transparent brewery/pub tie-ins: two new releases from Galway Bay Brewery. Trusty Chords landed last month, a 5% ABV reddish pale ale. The badge bigged-up its Simcoe usage so I was surprised by the big and juicy pineapple aroma and flavour. Where's the dank?! To be honest I didn't miss it; after the tropical fruit comes a chalky dryness and a tiny whisp of crystal toffee. It reminded me a little of that unfairly unlamented style, American amber ale, with its straightforward, hop-forward simplicity. And it's clear! Hoppy and clear is too rare.

May's release, Vignette, is definitely not clear. This is a pale and murky session IPA at 3.5% ABV. I got pineapple as an opener again, this time becoming bitterer almost immediately, introducing guava and then lime. The carbonation is low, the texture a tad thin, and there's a bit of yeast fuzz in the finish, but none of this spoils it. Up against the ice cream thickness of Northern Lights I'd take this crisp and citrus job for refreshment every time.