Finally, as a beer enthusiast and blogger I find myself present and paying attention when something beery happens in my area. Fair enough, Elbow Lane started up recently, but even then I missed the cue to write a timely review of their first beer, Angel Stout. My ambition is to change this slack blogging and to actually experience these things when and as they happen. For now, Angel Stout and the other two forthcoming beers will have to wait for coverage on my lowly blog, because I have something that may actually be news.
OK, probably not.
Rebel Red is an Irish Red Ale brewed by the Franciscan Well brewpub in my own Cork City. It's one of their five standard beers, so it's been around quite a while. Not exactly new then. However, it's only now that they've started bottling it. Distribution started on Monday and last night I finally got my act together and tried my own bottle from Bradley's.
First of all, they did a lovely job with the packaging. It pours a dark rebellious red (sorry), with a nice creamy off-white head that has good retention and leaves a nice speckled lace down the glass. This is all fed by the very active carbonation streaming up from the bottom of the glass. On the nose, malt arrives first. Biscuit and bread malt with hints of caramel that develop into toffee slabs as time goes on and the beer heats up. It's not all malt though - hops live here too, providing a slight bitter note and a decent fruitiness. The taste is gorgeous, and more or less picks up where the aroma left off. Malt-forward with wood smoked toffee giving way to juicy citrus and banana, a touch of bitterness, and a finish that's all nutty and grainy. Light to medium bodied without being thin or watery, this is a very well made beer.
Irish Red Ale is a style that is very hit and miss with me, and I have to say it's usually a wide miss. This is different though. I've had the stuff on tap before but rather like Howling Gale Ale from Eight Degrees, it's just a much more mature or balanced beer from the bottle. This may just be my obsession with choosing my own favourite serving temperature, but either way it's a beer I enjoy much better at home.
Which reminds me, I completely forgot to write up on the bottled Howling Gale...