Patreon’s Choice: The Irish Set

These days, Irish beer isn’t all about Guinness, as demonstrated by this interesting bunch which ranges from rye ale to ‘ice cream IPA’.

Of course we used that awful, cliched open­ing line pure­ly to troll the Beer Nut whose sug­ges­tion it was via Patre­on to try some of the Irish beers in stock at Hon­est Brew.

  • Yel­low­bel­ly Cast­away Pas­sion­fruit Sour, £2.79, 330ml can
  • Boyne Brew­house Vien­na Lager, £2.39, 330ml can
  • Kin­negar Rust­buck­et Hopped Rye Ale, £2.49, 330ml bot­tle
  • Whiplash Scaldy Split Ice Cream IPA, £4.59, 500ml can
  • Gal­way Bay Solemn Black DBIPA, £3.69, 330ml bot­tle

We drank them over the course of a cou­ple of nights while we were tied to the house for one rea­son or anoth­er, tack­ling them in ascend­ing order of ABV, except that we got Rust­buck­et and the Vien­na Lager the wrong way round because we weren’t pay­ing atten­tion.

A glass of flat, orange beer.

Yellowbelly’s pas­sion fruit sour, at 4.2% ABV, fizzed like e a bon­fire night sparkler then went com­plete­ly flat in about four sec­onds. It had a great pas­sion fruit aro­ma, bil­low­ing and beguil­ing, and, crikey, did it taste sour. Ray found it less heavy going than Jes­si­ca because he drinks soft drinks and she doesn’t (tea, please!) and what it resem­bled more than any­thing was some new vari­ant grown-up ver­sion of Fan­ta. In fact, we picked up two types of sour – the cit­ric acid of fruit and the kind of sweaty funk we asso­ciate with Gose. On bal­ance, though we found plen­ty to enjoy, we both want­ed it to taste more like beer, and would prob­a­bly rather have a can of Rubi­con at a fifth of the price.

Kinnegar Rustbucket glowing in its glass.

Kin­negar Rust­buck­et, at 5.1%, was more our kind of thing. It smelled won­der­ful, tak­ing us back to those days of a decade ago when Goose Island IPA was con­sid­ered Way Out There, all orange and pine. Red-brown in colour, it tast­ed like a well exe­cut­ed, tongue-coat­ing, jam­my IPA of the old school, and gave the impres­sion of being a much big­ger beer. It was per­fect­ly clean, nice­ly bit­ter, and just a touch pep­pery by way of a twist. What a breath of fresh air, and good val­ue, too. We’d drink more of this.

Boyne Brew­house Vien­na, at 5%, had the sex­i­est graph­ic design of the lot with its black and pur­ple can, and looked great in the glass, too, being a gor­geous gold with a cap of thick white foam. But unfor­tu­nate­ly it tast­ed weird – bad weird – in a way we’ve nev­er encoun­tered. Some banana, maybe? Apple? Grit­ty, grainy, unfin­ished. As if it was a lit­tle unwell, and threat­ened to send us the same way. We couldn’t fin­ish it. Sor­ry!

Whiplash Scaldy Split had about it the air of the main event: it came in the biggest can, cost the most, and is billed, rather excit­ing­ly, as an ice cream IPA. The ingre­di­ent list includ­ed mul­ti­ple malts, vanil­la and lac­tose (milk sug­ar), as well as reli­able old Cit­ra hops. The beer was a sort of queasy, home­made cus­tard yel­low, cloudy but not soupy, with an attrac­tive, sta­ble head. The prob­lem is – and this does hap­pen from time to time – we each per­ceived it quite dif­fer­nt­ly. Jes­si­ca found it a mess, from the petrol aro­ma to a flavour so exces­sive­ly dank it seemed to have gone through hop­py and come out the oth­er side at stu­dent bed­sit car­pet. Ray, on the oth­er hand, used words like smooth, sub­tle, taste­ful, and fun… Again, we won­der if his rel­a­tive­ly sweet tooth might make him feel warmer towards this kind of beer. Or maybe that long list of ingre­di­ents com­bined to cre­ate par­tic­u­lar unusu­al flavours and aro­mas to which we might be respec­tive­ly more or less sen­si­tive. Any­way, if you like thick, hazy, hop­py beers, you’ll prob­a­bly enjoy this one; if you don’t, you prob­a­bly won’t.

A glass of black beer with a huge head.

Final­ly, there was Gal­way Bay’s Solemn Black dou­ble black IPA at 9%.  Phew, what a mouth­ful, and that goes for the descrip­tion and the beer. From the first sip, we just straight up liked this one a lot. (Both of us, thank good­ness – much sim­pler that way.) Thank­ful­ly its sup­posed sta­tus as a black IPA didn’t mean lots of clash­ing, clat­ter­ing hops trip­ping over dark malt flavours, as is too often the case, and it struck us as an impe­r­i­al stout to all intents and pur­pos­es. We found it a silky beer that was all melt­ed milk choco­late upfront, and turned to port wine the longer it sat on the tongue. And it sat on the tongue for a good long time, rever­ber­at­ing almost for­ev­er. When we left it long enough, and it’s not a beer to rush through, some grassy hop char­ac­ter even­tu­al­ly sug­gest­ed itself, along with a burnt-toast black malt note. A hap­py place on which to con­clude this whirl through the world of Irish beer.

Patreon’s Choice #4: Boundary Brewing

This is the fourth in a series of posts with notes on beers chosen for us by our Patreon subscribers. (If you want bonus posts and to steer what we write about sign up for the price of half-a-pint per month.)

The Beer Nut (Twit­ter, must-read blog) sug­gest­ed that we try some beers from Bound­ary, a brew­ing com­pa­ny based in Belfast, North­ern Ire­land:

They’ve been on my “Hmm, not sure” list for a while, even as their recipes get more and more ambi­tious. I don’t see many of their beers where I live and am curi­ous as to how they’re get­ting on.

Here’s how Bound­ary describes itself on its web­site:

We are a Coop­er­a­tive Brew­ery in Belfast owned and run by our mem­bers. Open­ing our doors in 2014, we are the first brew­ery in NI to bring togeth­er mod­ern US styles with the more tra­di­tion­al Belgian/French style beers.

What this seems to mean in prac­tice is some vari­a­tion on crowd­fund­ing where­by investors of var­i­ous sizes invest in and co-own the com­pa­ny, in exchange for beer and par­ties, with the promise of inter­est and div­i­dends “when it is appro­pri­ate”.

We bought our selec­tion of their beer via Beer Ritz online and tack­led them in ascend­ing order of alco­holic strength (up the lad­der) as is our usu­al approach.

Four beers from Boundary in their glasses.

First came the Amer­i­can Pale Ale at 3.5% ABV and £2.53 per 330ml bot­tle. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this was what we’d call an out­right dud. There was a dab of acid, the spec­tre of some malt flavour, and then a long trudge through papery, sali­va-like, watery noth­ing­ness. At the end we thought we detect­ed a faint chilli-like burn that we’re fair­ly cer­tain wasn’t sup­posed to be there. We wished for it to be more bit­ter, more fruity, boozi­er, or even sweet­er – just more some­thing.

Next came G.O.A.T. which is billed as a New Eng­land IPA at 4.8% and £2.77 per 330ml. This one, at least, had a pleas­ing aro­ma – that have-an-Out­span, elec­tric air-fresh­en­er zap you get from Cloud­wa­ter or Brew­Dog takes on this style. It looked like a text­book NEIPA, too, which is to say dis­tinct­ly over­cast, and lurk­ing some­where between grey and green. The flavour was a let down, though, remind­ing us dis­tinct­ly of the time we tried to make a Ger­man-style wheat beer with dried ale yeast. The word we kept using was dirty. We strug­gled to fin­ish this one and, indeed, didn’t.

The big­ger NEIPA in the set, For­ev­er Ago, has an ABV of 6% and cost £3.13 for 330ml. This had less aro­ma than G.O.A.T. and was also less hazy. It had a real­ly rough fore­taste – it actu­al­ly made us say, “Ugh!” – with some off-putting sour­ness, too. There was some apri­cot or man­go in there but, again, not enough to drown out the bum notes or sell the beer. Per­haps this might have been bet­ter if we’d drunk it the week it was bot­tled but it had a best before date of August 2018 so sure­ly shouldn’t have tast­ed so com­plete­ly exhaust­ed.

Final­ly, Export Stout at 7% cost £3.43 per 330ml and – thank good­ness as we are begin­ning to feel mean – was very decent. A hint of acid­i­ty here works to under­line a sour cher­ry char­ac­ter, which in turn har­monis­es with a dusty, musty dark choco­late truf­fle char­ac­ter. We might have pre­ferred more body and sweet­ness but, with­out them, it pulls of the trick of seem­ing vague­ly Bel­gian. Was there even, per­haps, a hint of Bret­tanomyces in action? We would gen­er­al­ly expect a bit more from a beer at this strength and price but we enjoyed it and would cer­tain­ly try oth­er dark beers from Bound­ary.

News, Nuggets & Longreads 30 September 2017: Bang Chang, Meerts, Cork Mild

Here’s all the writing about beer and pubs that got our brainboxes revving in the past week, with bulletins from Bhutan to Runcorn.

The Cask Mar­que Cask Report was pub­lished this week (PDF) writ­ten this year by Rosie Dav­en­port. We’re still digest­ing it, and, like oth­ers, debat­ing its val­ue, but in the mean­time James Bee­son has writ­ten an excel­lent sum­ma­ry with addi­tion­al indus­try com­ment for the Morn­ing Adver­tis­er:

The head­line sta­tis­tic from this year’s report high­lights that sales of cask beer are down by 5% over the past six years, and 3.8% in the past year alone. While it is undoubt­ed­ly dis­ap­point­ing, and indeed wor­ry­ing, to see cask suf­fer­ing a sharp decline in sales, this is symp­to­matic of a wider decline in beer drink­ing across the UK, with keg beer and lager also falling by 25% and 11% respec­tive­ly.


Brewing in an outdoor kitchen, Bhutan.

For Beer Advo­cate** Mar­tin Thibault has vis­it­ed the Himalayan king­dom of Bhutan to explore its farm­house brew­ing cul­ture:

So, Bang Chang and Sin Chang, the nation’s two types of farm­house ale, are often made from 100 per­cent organ­ic raw wheat cul­ti­vat­ed by each house­hold. In some cas­es, even the yeast cul­ture itself is coaxed from these same fields… Some of these farm­ers not only grow their cere­al and brew from it, they also make their own yeast bagels from bits of dried bark, leaves, and pow­dered maize or wheat, which are cooked and solid­i­fied. Aun Nam­gay, a Schar­chop woman from Rad­hi, a ham­let in the country’s sparse­ly pop­u­lat­ed east, explains that her new­ly baked cakes need to be coat­ed in an old­er ‘moth­er’ bagel for the fresh ones to be tru­ly effec­tive.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “News, Nuggets & Lon­greads 30 Sep­tem­ber 2017: Bang Chang, Meerts, Cork Mild”

Ale in Dublin: Mit Schuss?

‘Vanil­la is a Bean’ by Chris­t­ian New­ton, from Flickr, under Cre­ative Com­mons.

The Dublin­ers who took to ale showed what seemed a clear con­tempt for the stuff by sprin­kling fruit cor­dial into it – a row of cor­dial shak­ers stood on every bar and the choice includ­ed rasp­ber­ry.

That’s a claim made by ‘Dublin boy’ Ger­ard Fay in a 1965 arti­cle about Guin­ness called ‘My Good­ness…’ and includ­ed in The Com­plete Imbiber Vol. 8 edit­ed by Cyril Ray.

This is the first we’ve ever heard of this prac­tice and it sounds very… Un-Irish.

Can any­one con­firm or deny? And is any­one else up for giv­ing it a go?

News, Nuggets & Longreads 4 March 2017: Paddy Losty, Lone Wolf, London Pride

Here’s all the news and commentary in the world of beer that grabbed our interest in the last week, from Dublin pintmen to lone wolves.

From Stephen Bourke for the Dublin Inquir­er comes the sto­ry of ‘pint­man’ Pad­dy Losty who allowed him­self to be pho­tographed in the pub by a rov­ing author and 20 years on has gone viral:

His fans set up a ded­i­cat­ed splin­ter group, which has now spun out to a Twit­ter account con­trolled by the group’s admins… His celebri­ty is secure, at least for the 4,548 fans of Pho­to­shop jobs of Losty in the guise of char­ac­ters rang­ing from Hans Mole­man to Diony­sus.

(Via @BarMas/@teninchwheels/@higginsmark.)


People watching TV in a pub.

Pints & Pubs is under­tak­ing to vis­it every pub in Cam­bridge this year and the project is throw­ing up inter­est­ing case stud­ies such as this reflec­tion on the dom­i­nat­ing force of an always-on tele­vi­sion:

 I look around and everyone’s either star­ing at the TV or at their phones. One cou­ple fin­ish their drinks and get their coats on to leave, then stand there for 5 min­utes trans­fixed by some wing­suit wear­ing stunt­man land­ing in a pile of card­board box­es. Anoth­er cou­ple come in and go straight for the two chairs direct­ly under the tv, then sit in silence, arch­ing their necks to watch it. At one point, loud screams attract every­ones atten­tion – not the shriek from a cus­tomer lay­ing eyes on one of the pub’s ghosts, but from a woman caught in a tor­na­do in Alaba­ma.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “News, Nuggets & Lon­greads 4 March 2017: Pad­dy Losty, Lone Wolf, Lon­don Pride”