Showing posts with label IPA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IPA. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #66. On the craft journey with Hope's "Classic Gose", White Hag, Tom Crean and Whiplash

A Quart of Ale± #66

On the craft journey with Hope's "Classic Gose", White Hag, Tom Crean and Whiplash 

Hope “Limited Edition No 25“ Classic Gose 5.00%, 440 can

This Gose is Number 25 in Hope’s ever-growing range of limited editions. Gose, as you probably know, is a German sour beer, traditionally brewed in Leipzig and named after a local river.

Got a nice white head when I poured this but it didn’t last long. Colour is a cloudy lemon, with quite a few micro-bubbles racing up through the haze. Aromas are lemony, with a hint of sourdough starter. And that strong citrus element is also found on the palate, a  tangy and very refreshing palate indeed. And very enjoyable too!

They say: Gose is a sour beer, traditionally soured with lactic bacteria, but we actually used a special yeast strain that produces lactic acid as well as alcohol. While many modern Goses have fruit additions, we opted to keep it classic and let the simple mixture of acidic and mildly salty flavours shine on their own. …It goes really well with strong soft cheeses such as goats cheese as well as seafood.

Now where’s my St Tola?

By the way, the first Gosé I came across (at the 2014 LitFest), was made by the Brown Paper Bag Project, Irish brewers without a brewery but who travelled at home and abroad and hiring out or collaborating with existing brewers.

That beer, Fano Bryghus, was made in partnership with the local brewery on the Danish island of Fanoe. Sea salts and coriander were added to the wheat and barley. It had cider like characteristics and the acidity and salinity were prominent. That one was very good with oysters!

Geek Bits

Colour: 6 EBC

IBU (bitterness): 6

Serve at: 6 to 8 C.

Who are Hope? Hope Beer started out in 2015 when the brewery was founded by four friends with a passion for beer and business. What began as a series of late-night kitchen table discussions is now a state-of-the-art brewery, producing an extensive range of award-winning premium craft beers.

Hope produces a core range of five distinct beer styles which are available all year round as well as two seasonals and a wide range of limited-edition beers.

All Hope beers are brewed, bottled, canned and kegged at Howth Junction on Dublin’s Northside and are crafted to be the perfect accompaniment to food. Each beer has its own distinct name, story and taste experience.

White Hag “Magic Mist” Juicy Pale Ale 5.0%, 440 can CraftDirect

Always a bit of magic attached to the White Hag. Here it’s of the misty variety, hazy under a white foamy hat. And aromas enough to wake the spellbound, citrus in there with the mango and passionfruit and a basket of other lovelies. And all the exotic flavours burst onto the palate in a stream of oozy bitterness, soft and juicy. Play misty for me. Again. And again. 

The Label explains:  The tribe of the water goddess Danu, the Tuatha De Dannan enshrouded themselves in a mystical fog rendering their presence invisible to human eyesight.

Tom Crean Druids Wheat Beer 4.2%, 440 can Brewery Sales

The unmistakeable aroma of smoked bacon rises from the lemon coloured body, the head already vanished. You’ll notice quite a crowd of bubbles rising through the slight haze. The aroma continues but not a trace of the clove or banana usually associated with wheat beer as the liquid spreads cool across the palate. Brewer Bill is his own man; he has eased up on the hops and allowed the grain and the yeast the leading roles here. The route may not be the usual one but the result, refreshment, is certainly there. And the smoky aspect diminishes as you sip.

They say: A beer that gives acknowledgement to our rich local ancient history, we used delicately smoked oak malted barley, the reduced hop bill allows the full wheat and yeast flavours to dominate…We use just a tiny amount of hops here in this refreshing beer… let the grain and the yeast do all the work.”

Everyone at the tasting was surprised by the “smoky” ambush but all seemed to enjoy the refreshing element of this Kerry wheat beer.

By the way, if you’re heading towards Kenmare you could do worse than make Tom Crean’s your base camp as you’ll score highly on three fronts: B&B, restaurant with bar/brewery. And even higher on the hospitality front as the brewer Bill and chef Aileen are terrific hosts.

Whiplash Rollover Session IPA 3.8%, 330 can Bradleys

This was session beer of the year last time and this most recent tasting confirmed it’s as likeable as ever.

Pale yellow colour with a  short-lived white head over a hazy body. Citrus fronts the aromatics. And the quartet of hops dominate the palate. Amazing that this has so much hops and still weighs in at less than 4.00% abv. Quite a concentration of hops then, before a lip-smacking finalé.

They say: Same hop rate as our DIPA’s, less than half the alcohol. A very heavily hopped Session IPA: this comes at you with buckets of Simcoe, Ekuanot, Citra and Mosaic hops with a light touch of malts and an easy crushable body. Unfiltered, hazy, hoppy and juicy – Rollover is a New England inspired IPA without the heavy alcohol in tow.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #64 On the craft journey with a session of Hope, Black's, Tom Crean and Rye River's Grafters

A Quart of Ale± #64

On the craft journey with a session with Rye River, Tom Crean, Hope and Blacks 

Rye River Grafters Working Day IPA, 6.5%, 440 can Dunnes Stores

This 2020 Blas na hEireann Gold Medal winner comes in a gold colour with hints of amber. A bit on the cloudy side but you can’t miss all those bubbles rising. Citrus in the aromas and also in the mouth. More fruity and bitter than malty and sweet and also making an impression that is more alcoholic than the 6.50%.

They say: Big, bold and tasty, this American style IPA is full-on flavour, delivering a big hit of juicy, citrus fruits. Perfect to accompany a spicy Indian or Mexican dish. Great with salads too.

Rye River are the brewers here and they make exclusive beers for some of Ireland’s biggest retailers including Lidl (the Crafty range), Tesco and Dunnes… “We’ve no plans to stop growing.” Grafters is one of their brands.

Geeks Bits

Malts: Wheat, Pale Wheat, Torrified Oats.

Hops: Columbus, Ekuanot and Mosaic.

Just wonder who is the guy on the label. He looks familiar.

Rye River Grafters Clocking Off Kölsch Style, 5.0%, 440 can Dunnes Store

Zillions of bubbles race through the slightly hazy gold to the top where a soft foamy head slowly shrinks.   Citrus notes, plus a hint of honey, in the aromas and that continues on the palate where an orange bitterness comes into play as well; no shortage of flavour yet nicely balanced, this World Beer Award winner is crisp and clean with the malt sweetness a factor. Excellent mouthfeel as well. The finish is moderately bitter. But drinkability is high - you want to repeat the experience. Very high quality indeed - a beer that’s top notch and definitely one for the short list.

Geek Bits

Malts: Carapils, Pilsner, Vienna.

Hops: Mandarin Bavaria, Tradition

Tom Crean St Bridget’s Irish Lager, 4.5%, 440 can Brewery Sale

During our brewery tour at Tom Crean’s in Kenmare, one of the first beers that Bill Sheppard mentioned was this lager named in honour of St Bridget who was a brewer. In fact he said quite a lot of the early brewers were women and the church wasn’t very happy with that situation. The brewers wore a special hat for the trade and kept a cat (to protect the grain from mice) and that eventually led to some of them being called witches with dire consequences.

Bill also told us that the Celts would go to war for a good brewer and I was wondering to myself if perhaps Bridget and St Patrick’s right hand man and brewer Mescan knew one another! My Mayo mother was called after the saint. Cheers Bridgie!

Lager of course ties up your brewing kit for longer than ale and maybe that was why there was a shortage of lager from the current wave of craft breweries in the early stages. No shortage now though.

A lovely golden colour on this one, bubbles galore and the bubbly head is not retained for very long. Good balance of hops (Slovenia) and malt (German) on the palate with the malt getting an edge on the finale. Not quite the “cut” that you’d expect from your normal modern lager. Bill has his own methods - take that tour! - and this is a very satisfying lager indeed that reminds me of the traditional Central European style.

They say:  We allow six weeks to bring this classic to perfection. St. Bridget, known in Ireland for her saintly status, her feast day (1st Feb) and her cross made from reeds, is less well known for being a fine Irish brewer.

Hope Pass If You Can Pale Ale, 4.6%, 440 can Dunnes Stores

A bubbly gold ale invites you to “try me”. While its head doesn’t hang about, its pleasure does. It is billed as a classic American style Pale Ale, a pretty wide definition. You‘ll note the citrusy aromas. The hop element of pale ale can vary a lot and this comes in that bit down the scale, certainly much less of a hoppy kick than an IPA. 

The producers describe it as an easy drinking malty and slightly fruity pale ale with a subtle hip kick. I’d go along with that. If you’ve been drinking craft lagers, then this could well be your next step! Worth a try for sure.

It is well balanced; the expressive malt and hop flavours complement one another. It is also an all rounder at the table (indoors or out) and chicken, prawns, BBQs and pizzas are among those pairings recommended.

Pass If You Can was the dare of Michael Collier, a notorious 19th century highwayman, who was North County Dublin’s answer to Robin Hood. He was so successful that his townland was dubbed Passifyoucan. Finally arrested in 1807, in his favourite haunt The Cock, he was transported and returned home only to die of cholera! Still, the name remains.

Geek Bits

Hops: Magnum, Mosaic, Citra,

Yeast: US-05

Malts: Pale Ale, CaraHell, Munich, Acidulated.

Blacks Golden Ticket Pineapple DIPA 8.2%, 440 can

The intensity of this IPA introduces itself the second you pull the tab. Take it easy is the message as the aromas surge upwards.  Colour is a hazy orange, not easy to see the bubbles though there are herds of them. The head, starts at about the 3-finger mark, but soon it thins to skin thickness (or thinness).

So back to those strong aromas, featuring pineapple of course. A lot going on here, even a hint or two of pine (the evergreen). And flavour?  Pineapple for sure, “super prevalent” as they say themselves, apricot too and citrus-y elements as well. 

Quite a punch, yet the alcoholic power is well reined in here, no all-enveloping black hole where everything is so concentrated that you don’t recognise anything. Iron fist in a velvet glove comes to mind. Just keep it in mind, respect the power, proceed with caution and a great deal of pleasure. Less caution = less pleasure.

They say: Amazingly fruity scrumdiddlyumptious Pineapple Double IPA. Packed with honey malt, Citra, Mosiac, Azaccea and El Dorardo hops! IBU = 90.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #38. Continuing on the craft trail with a variety of IPAs.

A Quart of Ale± #38

Moving on over to craft with a variety of IPAs. 

Cotton Ball “Another Bloody IPA” IPA 6.00% Cotton Ball off licence.

The Cotton Ball’s “Another Bloody IPA” boasts an attractive dark amber colour and a myriad of bubbles, furiously making their way towards a white head that soon loses much of its early “bulk”. The aromas are strongly citrus, no surprise considering that they use blood orange zest and peel as an adjunct.

Quite a rich and flavourful mouthful with that Blood orange a light and pleasant (rather than forceful) presence. Biscuit malt gives it, yes, a biscuity flavour, and is quite a factor here.

This is what the brewery has to say:  “This isn’t just another IPA, this is our bloody IPA . Our blood orange infused IPA with a mixture of biscuit and Munich malt to give this beer a pleasant malty undertone.A full bodied IPA with a medley of USA citrus based hops, which is infused with blood orange zest and peel to create a fantastic citrus aroma.”

The Cotton Ball brewery is less than 200 metres from my house but my pleas for a direct pipeline have fallen on deaf ears! At least, their off-licence is open and the beers are otherwise widely available.

Growing up in the bar trade, it was always Eoin Lynch’s dream to put his own stamp on the well renowned Cotton Ball Bar (which was founded by his great grandfather Humphrey in 1874) and in 2013 he established the brewery in the basement of the historic pub. The brewery has taken on a life of its own and their beers are stocked far and wide on the island of Ireland and even in some other European countries.

Wicklow Wolf with Dot Brew “Guardian of the Galaxy” Double Black IPA 8.00%, 440ml can Bradley’s

The collaborating brewers, Wolf and Dot, have an out of this world sense of pun. Astronomical. Intergalactic. Space age. Well yeah, this is (still) the age for all three. And then there’s Cosmic Hops. Really? Galaxy, Strata and Milky Way. Oh sorry, Comet, not Milky Way. Just got my chocolate bars in a melt.

I suppose you could say, you wouldn’t be the first, that the hops are the stars of the show. The chocolate and coffee come through and there’s a pretty decent balance and a genuine bitter finish. 

If you’d like to explore the style, why not start at normal strength. Perhaps check out the excellent 5% Kinsale Black IPA (by Blacks, of course). 

Dot Brew So Far So Good session IPA, 3.5%, 440ml via 

Colour’s a lot like unclear lemon juice, a murky one, and the head is slim and won’t be around for long. Hops dominate the nose.  And on the palate as well, those exotic fruits are to the fore, with mango leading the posse. Smooth and fruity all the way to the satisfying dry and bitter finish. Much more muscle to this one than the 3.5% abv suggests. Chalk it down for those sessions.

No point in looking in on their own website. No beer info at all. Their site just wants three hundred of your euro to continue their work. The label’s more helpful: easy drinking, bright and light. A fruity hop forward New England session IPA. Tropical fruit aromas. A healthy bang of Amarillo and Galaxy hops. Super smooth.

A general web search finds agreement that it is brewed with New England yeast without the murky but retaining all of the big bright stone fruit characteristics offset by a healthy dose of malted and flaked oats for a medium body / velvet mouthfeel. A double charged dry hop of Amarillo / Galaxy for a super tropical fruit bowl aroma. Hints of peach & pineapple. Finishes with a light dry bitterness.

Contradictions abound. It is not bright. It looks 

muddy. It is not without “the murky”, it is as murky as a welly disturbed woodland pond. It is however smooth and satisfying, no shortage of hops and no doubt a contender for your, and my, session nights. More than happy to have one in my fist and at least one or two more in the fridge.

Larkin’s & Catalyst Coffee Rwandan Coffee Rye IPA 7%, 440ml can via Bradley’s

This limited edition from Larkin’s, with the coffee roasted by neighbours Catalyst, was a lovely surprise. It has a murky orange colour. There seems to be a fair bit of carbonation present. And, yes, the aromas are of coffee. This is a complex mouthful, a smooth one too, where the harmonious combination of the hops and the coffee characteristics is rather impressive, something special. Exotic citrus stuff from the hops give bitterness enough with fruity notes from the coffee, notes (plum, apricot) I’d be hard pushed to find in the cup. A good deal better than I expected.

They say:  We teamed up with the coffee masters in @catalystcoffee_ in our home town of Bray for this collaboration. We chose a coffee from Rwanda this time round which gives hints of chocolate on the nose and a really velvety smooth flavour on the palate. Cold brewed so don't expect this to be a dark bitter coffee experience. It’s subtle and gentle and balances with the hops and malt rather than trying to over power them. Limited edition.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #35. Moving on over to craft with a variety of IPAs, inc. 2 Big Bangers.

A Quart of Ale± #35

Moving on over to craft with a variety of IPAs, inc. 2 Big Bangers. 


Salt “A Different World” No Coast IPA 5.4%, 440ml can via Bradley’s

From a brewery that is roughly equidistant between the west coast and the east coast of England, comes this No Coast IPA. But the No Coast on the can refers to the US and the beer purports to bring the best of both American styles together.

Colour is a light amber and you’ll see - you’ll have to peer through the cloudiness - loads of bubbles streaking up towards a rapidly vanishing head. Aromas are citrusy. The first sip is quite promising and the promise is maintained as the citrus is balanced by a finely honed bitterness.

Enjoyed this superb beer, like the feel of it, its flavours, and the results of the balance between hops and malt. Probably impossible to reconcile the two main US styles but this is indeed a worthy attempt. And, in any case, the result is an excellent beer in its own right. Is there any Irish brewer doing something similar. By the way, is there a Mid-West style?

They say: SALT is a micro-brewery on a mission to unify heritage and modern brewing. Our homeland, the UNESCO village of Saltaire, was built by a super-progressive pioneer of workers' rights in the 1800s. We adopt the same progressive spirit through our modern brewing styles. The inspiration of our forefathers can be seen in our name, throughout our brewery, and the textiles used to name our beers.

Quite a few SALT beer names are associated with textiles, including Seersucker, Alpaca, and Ikat.


Hops (Kettle and Dry-Hop): Mosaic, Citra, Amarillo, and Centennial.

Malts: Pale, Oats.

12 Acres The Far Side Hazy IPA 5.1%, 440ml can via Ardkeen Store 

Colour is a mid-orange, hazy as you’d expect from the name. Soft white head keeps up appearances for quite a while as micro-bubbles gush upwards. This “New England” style contains some oats and there’s a creamy mouthfeel. It is heavily hopped though with Simcoe, Mosaic, Citra and Amarillo, yet the results seem toned down so the fresh hops, from the late additions, are not very obvious. Banana seems to be the main tropical fruit. Not bad but not my favourite IPA from the brewery. I’d prefer the Make Hay.

They say: The by-products of the brewing process are the spent malting barley grains, spent hops and excess yeast. All of these by-products will be used as animal feed on our farm, resulting in zero solid waste from the brewing process and a full life-cycle of our ingredients. This ensures a sustainable environmentally-friendly process from ground to glass.

McGargles Francis’ Big Bangin’ IPA 7.1%, 500ml bottle via O’Donovan’s 

Francis comes to your glass in a bright mid-gold colour, streams of bubbles rising towards a head that has little staying power. This “modern take” on the US West Coast IPA style has been “hopped to hell” in genteel Kildare with US hops Mosaic and Simcoe and so “tropical fruits” are more or less guaranteed and they appear first in the aromas.

The tropical character continues on the palate where the Marris Otter malt also shows up well. And a fruity yet dry finish follows. Quite a good finish, quite a good beer but do note that high alcohol count. It’s not called Big Bangin’ for nothing.

What’s in a name? This is my first McGargle. I ignored these beers for years, thinking it was a Trojan horse from one of the majors, a mockeyah (a good old Cork word for pretender) craft beer. However, it is produced, along with other lines (such as the Crafty series that you’ll find in Lidl), by Rye River Brewing which is listed in the Beoir directory. Must say though that while this IPA appeals to me, the McGargle name does not (nor for that matter does Crafty - haven’t bought one yet). First impressions and all that.

They say:  Tropical assault, restrained malt, gentle balance, fruit finish, unfiltered, unpasteurised, natural refermentation may occur, best served chilled.

Dot Brew “Throw Away Play” DIPA 8.2%, 440 can via Bradley’s

Pull the tab on this one and you get a message: Hops be here. The aromas are full of them. Colour is a murky amber, not much to seen in there. Pretty dense too on the palate with the hops,  Citra and Vic Secret, keeping their secrets close in a concentration of complexity.

Thought I might get a hint or two on their website but nada there other than a request for €300.00 of your euro “to join the fun”. They are based in Dublin but, being guerrilla brewers (apparently), can turn up anywhere. This is a quote from them, on “We are adopting maturation and blending techniques from the Whiskey and Wine industries and applying them to break the boundaries of beer production.”

The label gives some info:  “Full and fruity - Vermont Ale Yeast, Malted and flaked oats and double dry hopped with a healthy amount of Citra and Vic Secret.” I did see somewhere that they do a session beer, might try that next if I can find it.

They use a lot of barrels and do lots of collaborations. Redmond’s of Ranelagh, Bradley’s of Cork, Wicklow Wolf, and Brú Brewery, were among recent partners. And it seems as if most of these collaborations are high in ABV. As is this “Throw Away Play”. 


A Quart of Ale± #33. Moving on over to craft with St Mel’s Brewery.

A Quart of Ale± #32. Moving on over to craft with Lambic and Geuze

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Porter, IPA and Artisan Coffee in Eight Degrees Christmas Pack

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.
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 12

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.
Yeast: BE256
ABV: 5.4%
IBUs: 44

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!