02 May 2018

Visit Kimmage!

My little corner of suburban Dublin now boasts its own brewery. Breweries are rare in Dublin full stop, so having one in the neighbourhood is a strange feeling. Four Provinces began life as a client brewer back in 2014. I covered the first two beers, The Hurler and The Piper, way back then. Towards the end of last year they fired up the standalone kit and immediately expanded the range which now features the original two, plus two new ones, all in cans.

One of the newcomers is Válsa, a Vienna lager. It looked the part, and more, when poured: a dark copper-coloured body topped with a thick dome of beige foam. Grassy noble hops pile out of the aroma, and the flavour too has a strong old-world bitterness with even a metallic edge to it. It needs a substantial raft of malt to carry that properly, and sure enough this is delivered. The dark malts are laid on so thickly as to create a milk-chocolate taste, and I'm not 100% sure I wouldn't guess this was a porter when tasted completely blind. A crisp roasted grain-husk element just adds to the effect. Around the point I was deciding it's all a bit much, it all cleaned away quickly and neatly, leaving no sugary or acidic residue at all. Given a little calibration time, it's possible to settle into this one and enjoy it as a full-on, full-flavoured, power-lager. Think doppelbock, but only 5.2% ABV.

The other new one is actually a porter: Láidir is another heady one, producing an ice cream float of tightly packed beige bubbles, almost like it's been nitrogenated. The aroma is strongly sweet, chocolate again, with jammy fruit and cheeky liqueur, like a Black Forest gateau. Expecting a sugarbomb I was delighted, on the first sip, to discover it's powerfully bitter, with a sharp and invigorating leafy hop bite. A citrus edge emerges, making me suspect Cascade or a similar US variety is involved, though it's actually done with Galaxy. While the cakey dark malt is still there, it contributes more to the texture than the flavour, giving the whole thing a beautiful creaminess. This isn't a black IPA, though, as a proper toasty roast overtakes the hops in the finish. Overall it's an absolute beaut, reminiscent of my benchmark Irish stout Wrasslers XXXX, but softer and more accessible. Highly recommended, and probably best when fresh.

Four Provinces has plans to make use of its neatly contained outdoor space, with a launch party and eventually a regular al fresco tap room when the law allows. I expect I'll be seeing more of you in Dublin 12 in the weeks and months to come, then.

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