I mentioned in an earlier post that a handful of beers made it home with me from London in November, all of them cans, all of them plucked hastily form the fridges in Mother Kelly's.
Yes, I went to Mother Kelly's and didn't write about it. When we arrived on what I foolishly thought would be a quiet Tuesday evening in mid November, the hangar-like space of the place was heaving. Standing room only, then. Drinks for non drinkers weren't particularly exciting, so just the half for me - a characteristically robust De Molen stout, whose name I forget. It was a surprise when it arrived smoky; I'm A-OK with smoked beers and smoked porters especially, but, like my love for Ardbeg, there's a time and place and mood for such a thing. Not loving the beer and very much not loving standing awkwardly in that broad strip of open space in front of the bar, we grabbed the cans and left after a few unsatisfying sips. I hope to be back, preferably just after opening time.
Much better luck was had with the beer muled home, and first among them was Vibrant Forest's Citra pale ale. There's a lovely fresh, piney zing that screams textbook Citra, gloriously clean, until I dump a load of muddier dregs in, which seemed to add a slightly meatier, savoury edge to proceedings. Still, the goodness is bright and sharp enough to keep it tasty throughout.
Even better is Sweet Leaf from Wylam. At the time, I noted it was easily among the best of that sort of IPA that I'd ever had, that sort being the oaty, dank expressions that may or may not mention New England on the label. This revelation is because it doesn't have the negative (to me) aspects of a 'dank' IPA; no sweat, no hot garlic, no acid buzz on the palate. Instead, it remains an incredibly juicy lemon with bursts of tropical mango and peach that's way too easy to put away. In my absence, ProAddition begain importing some Wylam beer, though I'm not sure if this is among them. If it is, it comes highly recommended.
I didn't really know what Beerbliotek's No Style Without Substance was when I picked it up - if I'd read the Imperial Cascadian Dark Ale on the can I probably wouldn't have bothered.
Lucky I didn't, then, because this is marvellous. There's no harshness or awkward clashing of black rubbery roast with heavy hopping; the malt plays like a superbly smooth imperial stout, with silky milk chocolate punctuated rather delightfully with a burst of lime and lychee, playing soft and warming up beautifully by the fireside. It may just as well be an extravagantly late/dry-hopped imperial stout, if not for the lack of any aggressive roast or coffee stuff. An excellent recalibration of my black IPA/CDA outlook.
Black Iris' Lost Art of Keeping Secrets brings us back to regular old IPA, and it's rather good, though it does have some of the aspects I don't like about NEW IPA. Those are expressed in this instance as heavy malt with a twang of acid, but there's still plenty of tropical and stone fruit stuff to enjoy.
Last and, probably, to be fair, least, is UnBarred's Porter, brewed at Missing Link. Simcoe cryo hops are bragged about on the label but I just couldn't find them; the main effect is of a rather amateurish, homebrewed porter the likes of which many rural startups in Ireland are producing - think weak coffee, light milk chocolate powder and an ever-so-slightly rubbery underbelly. It wasn't terrible, but nor was it good enough to commit to the entire can.