A Quart of Ale± #25A
Moving on over to craft with Eight Degrees at Christmastime
Porter, IPA and Artisan Coffee in Eight Degrees Christmas Pack
|All six of the Munro series
Eight Degrees The Black Road Campfire Porter 6.5%
Not too long ago, I used to frequent a bar where there were three stouts on offer. It really had to be a Cork bar. And it was. The good old boys, and some not so old, had a certain skill.
The barman was always ahead of the thirsty posse, filling pints and lining them up. Which was the Guinness? Murphy’s? Beamish? Some fellows could tell by the colour. Others by tapping the full pint with a fingernail. I was always impressed. But I think those good old boys would be lost today with the variety of the black stuff, both stout and porter, available, thanks to the rise of craft beer producers.
Just got one of the most recent in my hands, the Black Road Campfire Porter by Mitchelstown’s Eight Degrees. It, along with Fort of the Fianna Belgian IPA, both form part of the Mitchelstown’s brewery’s Irish Munro series and each features in their widely available Christmas special, the pack completed by a bag of superb coffee from Badger & Dodo, the local roaster.
Initial signs from the porter are good, the classic mahogany/black with a coffee coloured head. Aromas are smoky, coffee. The palate is smooth, complex, caramel and that smoke trace again; chocolate and coffee and sweet caramel take me home.
The Eight Degree folks are naturally adventurous. Who wouldn’t be if you live in the vicinity of their beloved Galtymore. Irish Munros are peaks over 3,000 ft. Many of these peaks belong to the MacGillycuddy Reeks in Kerry, one is in Wicklow, and then, towering over the Mitchelstown brewery, is Galtymore.
The Galtees are not just decorative. “These mountains are also key to us producing world class beers, producing wonderfully soft water via its red sandstone ridges. The Black Road is the hillwalker route up Galtybeg and onto the higher Galtymore for magical views across the countryside. Inspired by the mountains, we’ve brewed a porter using Belgian and German malts that impart beech- and oak-smoked flavours along with coffee notes.”
Malt: Irish pale ale malt, beech smoked malt, oak smoked wheat, café malt, CaraAroma, chocolate malt.
Hops: A light bittering of Nugget.
I just love Eight Degrees. They tell good yarns, make great beers and are always game for a laugh. And always come up with Food Pairings. In this case: This smooth sipper is eminently suited to campfire foods: bonfire bangers, or sausages, cooked on sticks over a woodfire, potatoes slow roasted in the embers and bubbling pots of homemade baked beans with lots of smoked paprika.
Eight Degrees “Fort of the Fianna” Belgian IPA 5.4%
Clear and gold in the glass, this September issue in the Eight Degrees Irish Munro series takes you to the summit. Whether mountain high or just atop a bar stool, this Belgian IPA is one to enjoy.
The short-lived head doesn't last as a long as a foggy cap on the head of Kerry’s Caher, which just about qualifies as an Irish Munro. The flavour though, strong and hoppy, is long-lived, a bit like the legendary Fianna who, with leader Fionn MacCumhaill, enjoyed their adventures across the Irish mountains long before the invention of those para-glider things. Sorry, Mr Kiwi!
But big congrats to all at Eight Degrees for yet another superb beer in this series. Excellent citrus and floral notes here, smooth and soft and a dry and bitter finish. A very satisfying taste adventure whether mountain high or just atop a bar stool.
They say: We added our current favourite hop Loral into the whirlpool for this Belgian IPA, followed by dry hopping with the elite new experimental HBC 522, which has strong citrus and floral notes. Singing above all this is our Belgian yeast strain of choice: BE256 is a quick attenuator producing a clean beer with hints of spice, clove and banana. Raise a glass to the Fianna.
Style: Belgian IPA
Malt: Irish pilsner malt, wheat.
Hops: Loral, dry hopped with HBC 522.
Food advice: The delicious bitter flavour of this beer will play happily with a big serving of the best Belgian-style frites and mayo. Add a side of Glenbeigh moules for extra glory, but hold the lemon. You’ve all the bitterness you need in the glass. Try with a Moroccan butternut squash casserole to cut through the sweet veg and play happily with those spices. For the ultimate pairing, get a slice of pumpkin pie; the fruit and floral flavours of the beer will enhance the savoury-sweetness of this quintessential autumn desert.
Get social: #FiannaBelgianIPA
And more news from Eight Degrees: We've also released the final beer in our IRISH MUNRO Series; Devil's Ladder Belgian Tripel aged in sherry casks. This is the pinnacle of our 2020 series, a beautiful beast of a beer which can straddle both sides of the Christmas meal. Chill and serve in small sherry glasses to start, with a selection of tapas-style nibbles: good olives, smoky roasted almonds, salty anchovies. For a sweet ending, serve it at room temperature in a brandy snifter to offer a delicious counterpoint to Christmas pudding, chocolate Bûche de Noël, or even a creamy stilton.
Think I'll keep that one until the big day itself!