It was my birthday over the weekend, and while I didn't do an awful lot of drinking, I did manage to pull together a decent beer haul, with the help of my Much Better Half. From her, I got a nice set of two Schneider Weisse Originals with the branded weizen glass to match. I have to say, it's classy as fuck. Also, two beers from a brewery I've been dying to explore - Verdi and Sally Brown from the Birrificio Del Ducato in Italy. The brewery has been recently added to Bradley's' shelves, along with a host of Odells, Flying Dogs, and other Americans that are really expanding the selection in there, not to mention the host of Belgians that joined the ranks a couple of months ago. Finally, a six pack of Budweiser Budvar means my girlfriend has me well supplied. So, good drinking to be done there in weeks to come.
I ordered and recieved my first package from drinkstore.ie in anticipation of my name-day, and opened up a 6-bottle gift pack of Piraat, along with branded tulip glass. The box will lead you to believe that it's 9% alcohol, while the bottles will promise the normal 10.5% version. Really, I spent a good while online looking for an explanation of why there are two versions in the first place and found zilch, even from Van Steenberge's official website. One chap on an Aussie homebrew forum suggested the puny 9% beer was brewed especially for the Dutch market, and that's good enough for me.
Why the box and bottle conflict each other is anybody's guess.
Despite how it looks, I wasn't just looking at beer over the weekend - I did manage to go out on the night and have a few pints. My first of the evening was the vocally locally brewed but otherwise secretive Mi Daza stout. I had heard nothing of this before I saw the tap in the Crane Lane, and even now on the net I can find little mention of it's very existence. Nevertheless I was intrigued. Maybe I was just full from the day's indulgence, or maybe this really was a tough drink to finish. I haven'd had a Beamish, Murphy's or Guinness in ages, but this seems to be directed at that crowd. It has the ridiculously thick nitro head in an unnatural shade of white, but beneath the surface it's watery and very low on flavour, with only a hint of general roasted malt. Granted, that wasn't helped by the ice cold serving temperature but I have to say I didn't wait around to find out if it warmed up well. The pint was finished by a friend.
For my second (and third) I went with a pale ale I'd only tried once before but loved to bits - Windjammer from Metalman. Lovely stuff that went down so much easier, but did so while still providing so much flavour. It's fruity and refreshing and the body has a bit of a punch to it - no empty water finish here.
In the mood for a Belgian, I went for one from the pub's newly acquired bottled range. La/Mc Chouffe were advertised along with Leffe, St Martin's Blonde and Fruh Kolsch. La Chouffe was the easy choice to make here, but alas, it was too good to be true. The bottles were nowhere to be seen and I settled for another Belgian, St Martin's Blond. It didn't have much going for it - yeast, slight bready malt character, stingy acidic fruit finish... I regretted not opting for the reliable Duvel.
Changing scene to the less trendy Fred Zeppelin's, my Irish craft beer tap range was taken away completely. Well, almost. After surveying the taps here, I realized there was really only one beer that called out to me - Rebel Red. And so I dug in. This was a beautiful pint, one I enjoyed much more than my first Rebel Red about one year ago. It was malt driven with toffee and caramel announcing themselves far before the fruit and hops bitterness got involved at the finish. Very refreshing and drinkable, yet retaining a good medium body.
All in all, not a bad weekend beer-wise. I do hope Metalman decide to bottle their wares in the future, the Windjammer is fast becoming my favourite session ale.