Showing posts with label Otterbank. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Otterbank. Show all posts

Monday, May 9, 2022

A Quart of Ale± #104. On the craft journey with Wicklow Wolf, Boundary, Otterbank and O Brother

A Quart of Ale± #104

On the craft journey with Wicklow Wolf, Boundary, Otterbank and O Brother


Wicklow Wolf Locavore Spring 2022 Barrel Aged Farmhouse Ale with Brett 11.9%, 330ml bottle Bradleys

Locavore Spring 2022 is a Barrel Aged Farmhouse Ale aged for 36 months in Chianti Red Wine Barrels. “Conditioned with wild yeasts from the brewery’s hop farm and carefully monitored by the watchful eyes of our brewing team, the beer was allowed to slowly mature over time to give a magnificent depth of complex flavours.”

The result? A wild, sour farmhouse ale that champions the wild yeasts of the Wicklow Wolf Hop Farm and the Wicklow terroir.

Colour is a black/brown with a light tan head. And yes, there is indeed a “magnificent depth of complex flavours”. And very little physical sign of the high ABV. 

Three years in the Chianti Barrels, plus the wild yeast, has undoubtedly worked on the beer, giving it waves of flavour, everything from fruit flavours (sour cherry) to Balsamic  to darker (espresso), rich for sure but no shortage of a balancing tart acidity. 

Brett (or Brettanomyces, to give it its full title) has a bad rep and scares the life out of many but this Wicklow Brett seems very amicable indeed, from initial sniff to aftertaste. Three years in the wood have rounded the beer into an amazing experience on the palate. Very Highly Recommended. Don’t worry too much about the details here - just sip and enjoy.

The Locavore project consists of small batch, local, experimental beers that champion terroir. Locavore was founded on provenance and pride. “It allows us to honour the landscape of Wicklow, our home, and celebrate it with small batch, local and experimental beers.” This is the 9th in the series. I’ve missed many of the earlier ones but am determined not to miss any more!

Boundary Double Nelson DIPA 8.0%, 440ml can Bradleys

Just one hop.. but a serious hop-bomb..

That’s how Belfast’s Boundary introduced this Double Nelson DIPA last March.  Colour is a very hazy orange with a soft white head. “Juicy,” they say. “ You'll catch a hint of gooseberry, passionfruit maybe.”  The fruits mentioned are typical when Nelson Sauvin is used. Nelson’s named for the grape Sauvignon blanc and that too, especially when it is grown in Marlborough (NZ), can have the same fruit flavours.

This DIPA has been dry-hopped with the Nelson (22 g/l) and it is juicy and full of flavour and finishes with quite a bitter touch. Not too sure about the gooseberry here as flavours seem more exotic. Perhaps they have different gooseberries on the South Island! 

Yet, it is a serious hop-bomb indeed and Boundary are happy: “You may have enjoyed our Full Nelson before. It's like that. But bigger.

We don't do that many single-hop beers, but this one works so nicely.”

They are also happy that they have opened Northern Ireland’s first Taproom right next door. “The Taproom will be a space for all things Boundary. Here you will be able to enjoy the freshest (and cheapest!) Boundary in the Universe…. As a Cooperative, the Taproom will also become a real community hub. We now have over 1800 members! In the new taproom we'll be able to run book clubs, running clubs, board game clubs, helping with finance classes etc.” 

You may not have come across this hops before but it is in common enough use in the craft beer world (more so recently) for American Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, and Pale Ale.  Hoplist: “The variety has gained popularity in American-style Pale Ales but is definitely a hop that requires prudent and discerning application in brewing. Nelson Sauvin’s oil profile is complex and fortunately works well as an aroma hop, flavor hop and also for bittering.”

Full nelson is a wrestling term for a type of hold; you also have a quarter nelson, a half nelson and three-quarter nelson. Not too though that there is a double nelson. But Boundary’s could well get a hold on you.

Otterbank Middle Lane American Pale Ale 4.4%, 440ml can Bradleys

This American Pale Ale from Donegal based Otterbank has a light hazy orange/gold colour and a soft white head. Aromas, not surprisingly considering it has been dry-hopped (“generously”) with Citra, are citrusy with notes of pine. Pretty damn good on the palate, refreshingly forward-hopped but not at all over the top as they get the balance spot-on.


Otterbank is a microbrewery based at the start/end of the Wild Atlantic Way (the brewery at the other start/end is Blacks of Kinsale) in the border village of Muff. They focus on barrel ageing, mixed and experimental fermentation (as well as the odd IPA). And the odd Pale Ale too, it seems.

Geek Bits

Malts: Stout, Cara Gold.

Hops: Centennial, Chinook, Citra.

Web: American pale ale dry hopped with Citra

Beernut: nil

O Brother You’ll Pay With Your Souls Single Hop (Simcoe) Pale Ale 5.3%, 440ml can Bradleys

Colour of this Wicklow produced Single Pale Ale is a light orange with a big soft white head that hangs around awhile. Did the old finger test in the head and came up with pine. Also found in the aromas and in the mouth where some grapefruit, passionfruit and apricot also comes through. Noticeably dry with a muscular lingering bitterness. Not bad at all but a bit one dimensional and lacks balance methinks. 

The Wicklow based O Brother are a trio of O’Neill siblings (Barry, Brian and Paddy) and they are quick to point to the contribution of their brewer Rich Barrett. On Insta, they say: “Rich is the man responsible for producing all that beautiful fresh liquid we're so proud of, and aside from being incredibly talented and a key ingredient in our success, Rich has been with us pretty much since the beginning of our journey, and is every bit one of the bros at this stage!”


Their core beers are The Sinner (American style IPA), The Dreamcatcher (session NEIPA), The Chancer (Pale Ale), The Nightcrawler (Milk Stout). Their beers are Unfiltered. Unpasteurised. 


Geek Bits

Hop: Simcoe (USA)

Malts: Extra Pale Malt, Pilsner Malt, Oats, Flaked Barley and Cara Pils

Ingredients: Water, Malted Barley, Oats, hops, yeast. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #61. On the craft journey with a mixed session, rounded off by a superb Yellow Belly "Red Noir"

A Quart of Ale± #61

On the craft journey with a mixed session, with this superb Red Ale the final can of the four. 

Yellow Belly “Red Noir” Dark Red Ale 4.5%, 440ml can Bradleys

They say it’s a dark red and it is, very dark, more black than red with a slim milky-coffee coloured head (shortlived). Aromas, caramel and toasted malt, are pleasant, if modest. You get much the same but more intense on the palate, caramel, chocolate prominent here. It is very smooth, very flavourful, very dark. Just wondering have Yellow Belly come up with a new style here, the dark Irish red ale?

They say: How a Red Ale is supposed to taste. Mild aromatics of sweet toasted malt and light smoke entices the drinker to this dark decadent red ale. What follows is a velvety smooth beer with a complimentary combination of chocolate and dark forest fruit flavours on the tongue. 

Style: Dark Red Ale

The Wexford brewery didn’t quite realise that it had a big hit in this one in its earliest incarnation, regarding it as a seasonal if not a one off. But popular demand has its way and, since early this year, they responded to demand and now Red Noir is part of their core range. I can understand why and very happy that the Belly took notice! Tending more toward the simple than the complex yet simply superb!

Geek Bits 

Malts - Irish Pale, Cara Gold, Wheat, Roast Barley

Hops - Cascade, Huell Melon.

Mescan “Seven Virtues” Lager 4.9%, 330ml bottle O’Briens Wine

It’s got the nice golden lager colour and billions of bubbles rising up 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 is 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 last year 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 from a pdf format. It’s a useful resource for all the home chefs who are exploring new options in their kitchens during the pandemic.

The Mescan Food-Pairing Wheel was developed by Inge Roels, a Belgian expert in food-pairing who has worked with the brewery since its early days. She has produced a guide for nine Mescan beers so far – Mescan Blond, Westporter Stout, Mescan White, Mescan Red Tripel, Mescan Extra, Mescan Saison, Mescan Special Reserve, Seven Virtues Lager and Seven Virtues Lambik.

“Mescan craft beers are exceptionally suited to enjoying with food”, said Cillian Ó Móráin of Mescan Brewery, “We were inundated with queries as to the best pairings from consumers and from restaurants and bars. We wanted to create something simple yet effective that would help people enjoy our beers with the optimum foods – hence the Mescan Food-Pairing Wheel was born”.

Check it out here to see what goes with this lager. 

Rascals with Hopfully “Siamese Dream” Pale Ale 4.5%, 440ml can Bradleys

This Pale Ale collaboration between Rascals and Hopfully brings you a bagful of Far Eastern flavours, specifically coconut, pink guava and lime zest (all listed as ingredients).

There’s a hazy yellow colour. Aromas are rather modest. But it certainly delivers on the palate reaching, as promised, every corner with aromatic sweet pink guava, lime zest and coconut. A delicious easy-drinking ale, nicely-timed for the summer!

They say: The beer is brewed with Sabro and Sorachi Ace hops. The latter is a Japanese hop known for its lemon, coconut and even bubblegum properties. Meanwhile, Sabro hops offer fruity and herbal flavours and aromas, with noticeable coconut, sweet citrus and tropical fruit characteristics. Overall you’ll get a nice coconut hit up front, followed by a gorgeous tropical sweetness from the guava, and then in the finish there’s a spirited citrus payoff from the lime zest. Oat malt and Vermont yeast ensure a smooth mouthfeel and enticing hazy appearance.

For the geeks

Malt: Pale Malt, Torrified Wheat, Oat Malt

Hops: Sabro, Sorachi Ace

Yeast: Vermont

Other: Lime Zest, Coconut, Pink Guava Puree

ABV: 4.5%

Otterbank Brewing “Mates Rates” Tart Session IPA 4.9%, 440ml can Bradleys 

Poured this a little too vigorously and got myself quite a head, a head that was slow enough to sink. Actually a fingerful of that head gave me the clue that citrus would be a factor. Light gold is the colour and there’s no shortage of carbonation activity. And citrus is a key feature on the palate; refreshment’s another. A sour for sure but a well balanced one. Sour is not my favourite style but the balance here keeps me onside.

Otterbank are described as a brewing and blending outfit and the brewer is none other than Declan Nixon of Yellow Belly, themselves known for their sours. Otterbank is a bit on the side. By the way, this was brewed at Third Barrel by and for Otterbank who are based in Muff, Donegal.

The label also informs us that the malts are Pils, Cara, Clair, Wheat, and Oats while the hops are Pacifica and Citra (used in the dry-hopping).

By the way, Session is also used on the label. I’d have thought that the abv would have to be at 4.5 or under to earn that tag. What do you folks think?