Here we have the penultimate (I think) entry in the Porterhouse bottled range, until, of course, more of their wares become available to me. So far, the best of the lot has surprisingly been the intriguing yet drinkable Wrasslers XXXX, but I fear that beer may have some stiff competion in this next entry, the strong ale Brainblásta. Also tested is the terrifying Oyster Stout. That they actually use oysters in the brewing process should really be enough to put me off, but I'm willing to try any beer once, so I'll give it a chance.
First up then is the Brainblásta I picked up in Bradley's. This pours a dark yet crystal clear red, with a one-and-a-half finger white head, medium carbonation and decent lacing. This is also the strongest Irish ale I've had, at 7%, so I was pretty impressed by the size of the head it produced. The smell is terrific - caramel and bubblegum, candy-like sherbert sweetness with a malty toffee and chocolate background. Hops announce their presence by delivering citrus and fresh cut grass in small doses, while the whole thing forms an interesting balance. On the tongue, it's just as impressive. Bitterness at the front with toffee and caramel follwing in behind, biscuit malt undertones and a really nice candy fruit finish. Again, the balance is great and very interesting. It's all carried beautifully on a creamy smooth full body, and leaves just a touch of alcohol heat. Really good stuff, and dare I say, my favourite Irish ale...
The Oyster Stout, then, had it's work cut out to match the 'Tasty Drop'. It pours very dark but not quite pitch black - you can see the red hues in the light. It's two finger white head dissipates to film in next to no time, leaving behind very little lacing. On the nose, I at first got pretty much everything I'd expect form a stout - roasted malts, coffee and smoke, but with a very distinct and obvious sweetness, and something that reminded me very much of the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier - yes, it smelled a bit like bacon. This is in the taste too - definitely smoked meat, but with a sweet creamy taste to it too. There's a subtle and strange mint or eucalyptus freshness to the flavour, that really makes for quite an interesting drink. Coffee is in the flavour too, with a decent hops bitterness at the very back. It's light and very easy drinking, but I have to say, this is probably one made for the stout fan. There was nothing inherently wrong with the beer, but it was difficult at first to get through it. After the first few minutes though, I got used to the flavours and could really start to pull things apart in my mind. Once again though, I don't think I enjoyed the actual flavour and aroma of this beer as much as an avid stout drinker would.
So, two beers worthy of exploration from the Porterhouse, with the Brainblásta becoming my official Favourite Beer From Ireland. Next up in this range is the Hersbrucker Pilsener and the Celebration Stout. As far as I know, that's all of the Porterhouse bottles I have ready access to.