04 July 2018

The sideshow

With the excitement of Indie Beer Week behind us until 2019, I can now bring you a couple of beers from small Irish breweries that don't qualify for inclusion.

The latest bottle release from 5 Lamps, in collaboration with Hellfire Brew Club, is Red Pilsner. Those aren't two words you see together very often: isn't this just an amber lager? Will from Hellfire sent me one to try and the answer is, well, yes and no.

It certainly looks like one: a clear reddish-brown colour, topped with a thick and handsome layer of off-white foam. And there's the dark malt toffee in the foretaste, but that's not the dominant feature. After it comes a strong noble hop bitterness with a powerful green flavour, mixing bell pepper, asparagus and spinach. It's quite assertive and definitely belonging more in a full-on northern-German pils than in red lager. The downside is that the sweet malt character just doesn't complement it as well as clean pale malt does. There's a bit of a struggle between the two sides and the integrity of the beer suffers because of it. It never really settles into one thing or another.

And maybe that's why you don't see many red pilsners around. It's an interesting experiment but it left me wanting something more classically constructed.

The first Eight Degrees release since the brewery was acquired by Pernod Ricard is Hoop Du Jour, a session IPA brewed to promote this year's ABV Fest (Belfast, 31st August to 1st September: job done). It's 4% ABV, hopped with an Australio-American combination of Enigma, Denali and Amarillo, and bulked up with both oats and, weirdly, lactose.

It didn't taste milky to me, however, and that's probably for the best. All the typical C-hop flavours and aromas are here, beginning with a funky and weedy resinousness, brightening up to become lemonpeel: bitter first, then merely tangy. It's strange how the combination works in the reverse order to usual, the taste becoming spritzier as it goes, not heavier and more acidic.

An odd beer, but it's far from unpleasant, and certainly a different take on the session IPA style.

Just because you're owned by a multinational doesn't mean you can't be creative with recipe design.

No comments:

Post a Comment