09 November 2018

Running to catch up

The Irish beer backlog has filled up so needs to be emptied now. Open wide...

I've only just caught up with Boyne Brewhouse's summer special, Jigs & Reels, created as a tie-in with the Fleadh Cheoil in Drogheda this year. It's a session IPA, just 4% ABV and a sickly looking hazy pale yellow. The billed hops are Mosaic, Cascade, Chinook and Centennial, and they've got full value out of the bitterness: the waxy, earthy buzz of Cascade stands out in particular for me. From a sharp lemon rind opener, the bittering fades and more subtle citrus notes emerge after; even a mild tropicality. This softens further to a floral perfume which is where I would like it to finish but it turns a little soapy right on the very end. A lasting impression of lime shred marmalade forms the aftertaste. I enjoyed it. It's light and drinkable despite the sharpness, with enough complexity to be actively interesting.

A change of the seasons later and Boyne Brewhouse's new Winter Ale has emerged. It's brewed to 8% ABV and comes in the pure Scandi style, deep red in colour and eschewing any novelty winter spices. It's still spicy, though: a roasty spark of incense and nutmeg. There's a Belgian feel to the base, a dubbel-like mix of toffee, banana and fig. While tasting the full strength it doesn't get hot or cloying and there's a drying shot of espresso right on the end, accompanied by a modest square of dark chocolate. Like the summery quaffer above, this fulfils its role well: properly wintery and warming with no silly gimmicks involved. A half-litre bottle or tall can would have worked as well as the 33cl; just saying.

Also going full winter was St Mel's Brewing, with Slow Burner extra stout. The shadow of Leann Folláin hangs over this, St Mel's's Liam having formulated the iconic stout while head brewer at Carlow. At 6.5% ABV this is slightly stronger and also a lot drier, with a huge bitterly roasted foretaste, all burnt toast and the darkest of chocolate. There's a delicious floral/herbal complexity backing this -- rosewater and liquorice -- with rosewater in the aroma too. The texture is surprisingly light for the strength, which makes for easy drinking though I would have liked a bit more of a finish: it all goes away a little too abruptly for my liking. It's a very decent stout, and a bargain at just €3 a bottle as SuperValu's beer of the month for November, but I think the roast really ought to be dialled back a little, with maybe a smidge more hop. If roast is your bag, though, get stuck in.

With the new brewery in Athlone almost completed, Dead Centre released its fourth beer, still brewed at St Mel's in Longford. It's a coffee porter called Moondust, named after the variety of coffee used in it. The colour was surprisingly pale: mahogany brown rather than black. That coffee ain't subtle. There's a raw and dry coffee roast as an aroma, to begin with. The flavour starts out dry too, then a hazelnut sweetness rises up, finishing on a creamy real-latte note. The beery side of the equation is a little lost, but there is a hop tang in here, and some complementary porterish chocolate. Though 5% ABV it's a little on the thin side and I think that overemphasises the coffee roast a little, but there's a decent complexity if you allow yourself time to explore it properly.

One step ahead of Dead Centre, Rascals open their doors to the public for the first time at 4pm today. I went along for a sneak peek last Thursday and it's an impressive set up: the first of its kind in Dublin but hopefully far from the last. Their newest release is an Irish Coffee Stout, aged in Irish whiskey barrels thoug