14 September 2018

The last of them

I've been away for the last couple of weeks, leaving in a rush of hastily-scheduled blog posts. Today's concerns the final few Irish beers I tried before I left.

We begin with Toothless Grizzly, the first brand new beer from Mountain Man in quite a while. They've badged this as a schwarzbier but my pint at the Black Sheep was distinctly amber-coloured, and a bit murky with it. The aroma is a strange mix of sweet dark malt and an out of place sour tang. Thankfully the sourness goes no further. It's properly crisp and lager-like, with a mild orangey citrus in with husky biscuit before finishing on a green and peppery bitter noble hop bite. On the downside, it's over-carbonated: nobody wants a flat lager, but here the jagged fizz is detrimental to the flavour; and, just as the colour is wrong, the distinctive dark lager flavours -- charcoal, liquorice, tar -- are completely missing. The recipe has potential but desperately needs darkening.

YellowBelly produced a beer to commemorate 85 years of Molloy's off licences. Covert Operation is described as a juicy pale ale and very much delivers on that promise. A bolt of pineapple strikes the nostrils immediately on opening, and it pours a hazy medium orange. The texture is fluffy, as fashion dictates, and all the fruit is worn up front: ripe mango, passionfruit and tangerine. There's just enough of a citrus punch late on to balance it, as well as a wisp of savoury garlic. It's very similar in style to Trouble's now-legendary Ambush, with the same level of satisfying drinkability. The tall can was emptied in short order.

At Hagstravaganza I missed the third Canvas offering, Double Wingmirror, so I was pleased when it showed up bottled in DrinkStore. The first warning light comes with the label, where "Double IPA" has been unconvincingly blacked out. It fizzed busily on opening, pouring a dark copper colour. There's a homebrewish yeasty spice in the aroma and the flavour mixes Belgian esters with burnt caramel and a touch of phenolic smoke. The marker was right: this isn't anywhere close to being a double IPA. I'm not quite sure what it is instead: though less than six weeks in the bottle it reminds me of long-abandoned home brewed pale ales, their hoppy days long past and the deathless yeast steadily drying them out. My 33cl bottle cost €4: top dollar for a beer that really doesn't warrant it.

Back from my train trip it was straight to The Brew Dock to try the newest from Galway Bay. It's the second sequel to Goodbye Blue Monday, a collaboration with Begyle called Last Goodbye, just a little weaker than the original at 5.8% ABV and utilising Hallertau Blanc, Azacca and Ella. I expected Opal Fruits from that lot but got Fruit Salad chews instead. It's mouthwateringly juicy: an almost sickly blend of pineapples, mangoes and apricots. There's an oddly prominent booze buzz cranking this up unexpectedly, but thankfully also a lime and guava tropical bitterness, shading into garlic as it warms on the palate. It is, above all, a fun beer, much as Goodbye Blue Monday was: a fruity hop celebration, albeit no longer served by the pint. No matter: you probably don't want this getting warm.

Whiplash treated us to two new double IPAs in August. I tried Do You Wanna Touch Me, their collaboration with Wylam, at Alfie Byrne's. The murk level is off the charts here. I mean, it's not even beige, more a bile-coloured grey-brown. It smelled fantastic, though: fresh tropical fruit, with a background hint of custard. 8.3% ABV means you get an alcohol burn as the first flavour. The fruit is in the middle and, unlike so many of these, it actually sticks around for subsequent sips, staying sweet and interesting and fun. The usual hangers-on are present for those that expect them: an oily garlic buzz and some dry gritty yeast and protein bits, but they confine themselves to the finish and the next mouthful tops you up with mango and pineapple again. It's an excellent interpretation of a super-fashionable style that is done too poorly too often.