Craft Lager, a superb quartet from Wicklow Wolf, Kinnegar, Mescan and Lineman
Wicklow Wolf Running With Wolves India Pale Lager, 5.6%, 440ml can
Just like Kinnegar below, Wicklow Wolf are claiming this is a “modern style” lager. It is brewed in collaboration with Bristol brewery Lost and Grounded and this India Pale Lager is dry hopped with Idaho 7 and Huell Melon to create “a savagely refreshing modern style lager”.
Wicklow tells us, that for the collaboration with their friends Lost and Grounded Brewers, “we took inspiration from their delicious Running with Sceptres, we brewed a single decoction India Pale Lager.”
Yeast used in this hybrid is an interesting one. It is the Hoppin Pils lager yeast that is targeted towards IPL styles and/or dry hopped lagers (as here) and is commonly used for the brewing of Bock, German lagers, Kolsch, lagers and pilsners
Colour is a light gold (not quite one hundred per cent clear) and there are aromas of biscuity malt, apricot and a citrus sweetness. On the palate, no shortage of flavour as the malts and hops get together to make it a balanced experience right through to the satisfactory finalé.
This single decoction India Pale Lager is Very Highly Recommended..
Kinnegar #30 Unfiltered Hoppy Lager 4.6%, 440ml can Bradleys
Colour of this unfiltered hoppy lager from the Kinnegar Brewers at Play series is a "foggy" gold. The first impression on the palate is one of refreshment, just like a lager should be. But, reinforced by “a contemporary hop profile”, this has a bit more going for it and should be welcome as the temperatures stay high in the days ahead.
Indeed, the brewers say they made it “to herald the arrival of a warmer beer-drinking season”. I notice they don’t mention summer!
The Brewers at Play series is designed to keep Kinnegar brewers on their toes and their customers on tenterhooks. It is No. 30 in the series which has come up with some gems. This is another one, a superb lager with excellent flavour and that high refreshment factor.
Lagers, they say, are among the most challenging - “and are amongst our favourite beers to brew”. I reckon it was well worth the effort on this occasion.
Very Highly Recommended.
Mescan Seven Virtues Lager 4.8%, 330 ml bottle
Last Spring (April) in the Mescan brewery, on a farm in the shadow of Croagh Patrick, we started a tasting with brewery co-founder Cillian Ó Móráin with a shared bottle of this lager. After a long enough drive from Cork, it proved remarkably refreshing and made me wonder why so few lagers reach this level of quality.
This may be the answer. At that tasting, Cillian explained that his beers take a minimum of 4 months with the heavy ones getting 6-8 months whereas your normal craft beer takes just a few weeks from start to counter (can vary from brewer to brewer). While the extra time makes the Mescan more expensive, Cillian reckons it is very important for the quality of the beer. And it is indeed a premium product as that little tasting and this more recent full bottle illustrated.
It has the nice golden lager colour and billions of bubbles rising to the soft white head. A bit of citrus and grass (not that grass!) in the aromas. On the palate, it is a bit more than your usual lager - it is after all dry-hopped. But it is crisp and refreshing, easy-drinking. Well worth a try!
They say: Virtues lager was the first in a series of one-off brews. Crisp and slightly dry hopped, a nod in the direction of both tradition and innovation. Serving Temp 2 - 4 °C.
Note that serving temperature, somewhat lower than usual.
Mescan always pay attention to matching their beers with food and even invented the Mescan Food-Pairing Wheel, designed to take the angst out of matching beer and food. It’s an easy way to pair each Mescan craft beer with the foods that complement it. It’s available on the website and is easily printable in a pdf format. It was a useful resource for all the home chefs who explored new options in their kitchens during the pandemic.
Check here to see what goes with this lager.
Very Highly Recommended
Lineman Undertone Dark Lager, 4.5% ABV, 440ml can Bradleys
Came across this dark gem first at the Franciscan Well Easter Festival on the North Mall and was immediately smitten, so obviously that the kind lady at the Lineman stand generously topped me up, with a smile. It was a sunny day. No sun as I write but I’m still smiling with my dark Czech lager.
Dark ruby is the colour of this one with a soft tan colour head on top. Chocolate and caramel feature in the aromas. And the flavours give it away - it is a malty lager, underneath the toast-bready, caramel-y camouflage.
A smooth Bohemian style dark lager that delivers delicious toast, chocolate and caramel notes. Unpasteurised, unfiltered, serve chilled. Drink fresh. Suitable for vegans. All that info on the label.
And quite a refreshing lager. The smooth flavours develop as a result of the use of Munich malts and extended cold fermentation and conditioning. And also a more expressive lager yeast strain that adds its own character.
They say: This unfiltered lager is given plenty of time to condition over the 8 weeks in tank prior to packaging. It's one of our absolute favourites. It's a labour of love.
Yes, Lineman (and me) are fans of Czech darks and dunkels. “Rounder and less roasty than a schwarzbier. Toasty, bread crust, and caramel. Freshly packaged UNDERTONE is making a return with a new look, but still a delicious 4.5% beer to enjoy. We've given the label a makeover and we've tweaked the recipe just a tad. This unfiltered lager is given plenty of time to condition over the 8 weeks in tank prior to packaging."
Used to be 4.2% but the new 4.5% keeps it in the sessional category.
Very Highly Recommended.