It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for Irish beer – three (yes, count ’em, three) new beers have been released. This is big news in a country where walking into a pub and finding something other than Guinness and Heineken remains a pleasant surprise.
I chatted about the excellent Kinsale Pale Ale in an earlier post, so this one is lumping together the other two newbies on the scene, which come in the form of a light Irish pale ale from Cork’s Mountain Man and a frankly massive (by Irish standards) 11% ABV barley wine from Dublin indie brewing stalwarts, the Porterhouse.
Mountain Man Green Bullet Pale Ale
We’ve been here before. This is a 4% ABV pale ale that is very much in the ‘gateway beer’ category, with the goal of opening up a new world of beer choice to the average light lager swilling Irish consumer. On tap it’s fizzy – really bloody fizzy. Very pale in colour with an aroma of light grain, corn, light kitchen cupboard herbs, and a hint of citrus. The taste is again quite cereally, with a bit of breadiness and a tiny hint of lime. The bitterness is a little rough and may actually prove a bit much to those who like their Coors on the Light side of the spectrum. This certainly drinks more like a lager than a pale ale, and an oddly hopped one at that. It’s inoffensive, put it that way. The branding, however, is spot on and looks great – so fair play to them for that. Hopefully Mountain Man’s next brew will conjure up something a bit more interesting.
Porterhouse Louder Barley Wine
Now here is something different. Porterhouse have – for reasons unknown to most – released a monster of an American hopped barley wine, with absolutely no advertising – not even a bloody pump clip (I forgot to take a pic of my glass of it, so there’ll be no visual aids for you this time, folks). They’ve also released it solely in cask format (for now) and in late June – not the usual time for sipping an 11%er down by the fireside (although admittedly we are in Ireland).
Louder is a bit of beast. I was lucky to get it on the first day of it being tapped in Porterhouse Temple Bar, so I saw it at its potent best…needless to say they’ve struggled to shift a whole cask of it so some folks had a less palatable experience after it had been hanging about for ten days or so.
It’s a murky copper colour with a really thin crown of froth. The aroma whacks you in the chops with caramel, prunes, red berry notes, and an absolute shedload of deep pine resin – hello American hops. More of the huge C-hop presence comes out in the taste – plenty of that thick pine resin you get in the aroma alongside an added dose of waxy orange and mouth-shatteringly bitter grapefruit. There’s more sticky, cloying caramel and dark fruit stuff happening too – it’s a big ‘un. Heavy, sweet, sticky, but hopped-up to the nines – that’s the main conclusion. Cask conditioning does this chap no favours in my mind – it was kind of soupy and just too heavy going. Plans are apparently afoot to keg and bottle Louder in a few weeks, so I think the extra carbonation will really lift it to a new dimension. Well, I hope so at least- if it does, then it could be a pretty special development in the Irish brewing scene. If not, then at least Porterhouse had the cojones to give it a bash.
So there you go, two new Irish brews at two very different ends of the spectrum. Both certainly have their place in the country’s current beer scene, but I sure as hell know which one I’ll be seeking out again.