A Quart of Ale± #132. On the craft journey with Blacks, Wicklow Wolf, Boundary, Backyard.

A Quart of Ale± #132

On the craft journey with Blacks, Wicklow Wolf, Boundary, Backyard.


Blacks Stratasbeer Intergalactic IPA, 5.00% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

Kinsale brewery Black’s announcement of this IPA invites you to “Blast through the Stratosphere into a whole new hop Universe..” And says it is “hopped to the high heavens with fresh Galaxy and Strata hops!”

Now let us come to earth and try it out! Colour is a straw/light orange, closer to clear than hazy, and it has a lovely white top. Aromas are not at all over the top. And those hops certainly add a supple backbone to the palate, yet again the flavours, like the aromas, are not over the top either, thankfully as far as I’m concerned. 

Flavours include the expected peach, passion fruit and citrus from the Australian hop Galaxy while the USA’s Strata reinforces that experience while also adding some herbal and even dank notes. Galaxy, often used in hop forward beers, is a key factor in many IPAs.

Very happy with this one, I’m glad to say. But how do you class this particular Kinsale IPA. It is West Coast, East Coast? Or Intergalactic, as they say!

With one hop from the US and the other from down under, it could well be of the Pacific style, that is beers brewed mostly with Australian and New Zealand hops (according to Mark Dredge’s just published book Beer: A Tasting Course). Colour and clarity certainly match the Pacific description and the ABV falls right in the middle of the style’s 3.5%-7%. Close but maybe not close enough.

Anyhow, let us not worry too much about the style. It is a well made and highly refreshing beer with a nicely judged hop kick all the way up to the finish. Blacks are back with a Stratospheric boom!


Wicklow Wolf Locavore Winter 2022 Dry Irish Stout, 5.6%, 440 ml can Bradleys

“The latest edition in Wicklow Wolf's Locavore series is made from hops hand-picked by the Wicklow Wolf team. As always, this series is a beautiful expression of all Co. Wicklow has to offer. This release is a fresh-hopped dry Irish Stout. Promises to be wonderfully fresh and crisp!”

It is not the best of stouts but damn well close. The soft head has a tan  colour.  The aromatics are moderate but very pleasant indeed with a light toastiness and a slight hoppy bitterness leading the way. The smooth soft palate then reveals big flavours of roasted malt, a bigger presence than the hops, and there’s a streak of acidity in there too that helps keep it all in delicious harmony, smooth dry and clean into the finalé.

They have used the finest Irish ingredients:  Wicklow Harvest Mountain Water, Hops from the 2021 Harvest on their hop farm and hop garden at the brewery and their own malted barley and wheat which was grown in the field behind the brewery.

They say: “Locavore is a beer series that champions local ingredients, terroir and sustainability. Growing our own ingredients here in Wicklow is something that we are extremely proud of and you get to taste the fruits of the Wicklow landscape. You can follow the journey and story of this year’s Locavore Winter Dry Irish Stout by simply scanning the QR Code on the can.”


Boundary Next Episode Helles Lager, 4.8% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

Belfast’s Boundary Brewery are happy with their Helles: “We only started making lagers in the last year or so, but we absolutely love them - this is our first re-release of this German style Helles, NEXT EPISODE - it's clean, smooth, crisp, proper summer beer.” Art work is by John Robinson.

So there you are. Summer. Well I’m late again. But let us have a try - the heating’s on! It is amber coloured with a fairly short-lived white head. Aromas are mild, with malt upfront. And it’s also malty on the palate and clean and crisp as they say.

The German Helles , easily found iMunich, has a crisp finish similar to Pils. Cool and refreshing, this everyday beer goes well with salads, shrimp, or fish, an excellent session beer. That’s what Boundary were aiming for.

How To Pour A German Lager From A Can or Bottle*

1. Tilt the glass or stein at a 45 degree angle.

2. Place the tip of the bottle in the glass, and pour the beer quickly down the side.

3. Start to straighten the glass as the beer reaches the top to create a nice head of foam.


Backyard Toasted Oat Export Stout, 7.0% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

This is the second beer from Backyard, their first a normal strength stout. This is, they say,  “A classic export stout with added toasted oats. An extra smooth body with the dark malty flavours that you expect from an export stout.”

Colour is the expected black with a tighter than normal tan head. 

Aromas give the expected toasty malty sensation. And there’s more malty roast on the palate with citrus and floral notes from the Citrus hops, with little hint of the high alcohol. Smooth enough (the oat bonus) though, with a decent finish.