Craft with four of the best: White Hag, Heaney, Wicklow Wolf and Dupont.
Session. Saison. Pale Ale. Stout.
White Hag Little Fawn Session IPA 4.2% ABV, 330 ml can Bradleys
I’ve come across Little Fawn quite a bit over the last few years on draught across the country and I’m always glad to see it, always glad to see any White Hag beer in a pub or restaurant. Its wide availability confirms its status as a classic Indian pale ale and, also because of its lower-than-usual ABV, as a go-to session beer.
The White Hag are rightly proud of its modern independent craft brewery from Sligo, on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. “We brew innovative and groundbreaking beers, inspired by ancient and classic styles.”
They certainly hit, and continue to hit, the bull’s eye with this one, an easy-to-drink American-style session IPA. Brewed with 100% Irish malt for a pale, very clean base.
An easy-to-drink American-style session IPA. Brewed with 100% Irish malt for a pale and layered with Mosaic hops, famous for their ever-changing fruity aroma. The colour is a light gold with a slight haze. No shortage of bubbles rising to a soft white head. Citrus-y in the aromas with a hint of something softer as well. The flavour is fruity hops with aromas of blueberry, passionfruit, grapefruit and more. Well balanced, with a mild lingering bitter finish. Lip-smacking stuff!
Very Highly Recommended.
They use ancient tales in selling their many and varied beers including this Little Fawn yarn. He was discovered “as a child on the slopes of Ben Bulben by Bran & Sceolan, this young and sprightly warrior spent his summers foraging and hunting the mountains and woodlands. These local flavours are reflected in the taste experience.”
Heaney Notifications Off DDH Nelson Sauvin Pale Ale 4.7%, 440 ml can Carry Out Killarney
“Switch off and enjoy this double dry-hopped pale ale, bursting with grapefruit, gooseberry and tropical fruit, brewed and canned by Heaney Farmhouse Brewery at The Wood, Bellaghy. Co. Derry.”, exhort the Heaneys.
They are talking about their relatively new Pale Ale, crammed with Nelson Sauvin Hops from New Zealand, “Tradition refreshed.”
The colour is a weak orange, quite murky, almost opaque, with a fluffy white head. Aromas are fruity and their tropical nature bursts out as the liquid roams the palate before a lip-smacking finish.
The Nelson Sauvin hop has been regularly compared to the superb local wines made from Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand, and there are similarities. That hint of gooseberry is one (grape and passion fruit are other characteristics of the hop) and there’s a bracing acidity as well. The beer is perfectly balanced, quite a thirst quencher on sunny days and also on not-so-sunny ones.
Very Highly Recommended. Another good one from the Heaney brewery.
Wicklow Wolf Apex Oatmeal Stout 6.5% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys
“A full-flavoured stout that will leave you wanting more.” That’s the message from Wicklow Wolf.
The stout is black with a coffee-coloured head. Coffee in the aromatics as well. And also on the palate, intense stuff with a slightly sweet creamy smoothness. And yes, more is the request!
Apex champions a heavy malt bill, brewed with only the best flaked Irish Oats, specialty chocolate and coffee malts. No wonder this stout is the base for quite a few Wicklow Wolf variations.
Very Highly Recommended
Malts: Pale, Chocolate, Roast Crystal, Brown, Carafa, Oat, Cara
Saison Dupont 6.5% ABV, 33 cl bottle Bradleys
A Standard. A Classic. The Best.
I’ve been enjoying it every summer for the past six years. I've enjoyed quite a few others as well but none comes near. If there were a Saison World Cup, then the Dupont team would be favourites and would win. As Michael Creedon of Bradley’s told me a few years back “if you don’t like this, you don’t like saison”.
Beer has been brewed here in Belgium’s Hainaut for centuries, though it is only in the last 20 years or so that the Dupont Brewery has become a global reference for saison.
Farm beers of this type – light, rather dry but fruity – were traditionally brewed during the winter, ready to quench the thirst of the seasonal field workers (saisoniers) during the summer to follow.
It is a cloudy mid-amber, with fountains of micro-bubbles. Aromas of citrus. Light and fruity, zesty and refreshing, yet no shortage of hearty flavour. Reckon any labourer, even a keyboard one, would be happy with this impeccable beer. Superb finish also with the bitterness now at the forefront. Nothing quirky, nothing extreme other than extremely good.
They say: Saison Dupont was first brewed in 1844. This copper-blond beer yields amazingly delicate aromas paired with pronounced hop bitterness. The house yeast and the local hard water, drawn from a well, play an important role in the creation of this beer. An in-bottle refermentation makes a major contribution to the development of this complex and highly aromatic beer.