Saturday, 12 October 2013

#180: The Great Catch-Up Part 3: Irish (and British) Beer

I believe I warned you about the lack of coherence to this feature, and as such I don't feel bad about throwing my notes at your face in this way. These ones are from the Bierhaus and I reckon it's best to take care of them now, that they might be relevant to the drinker in the days and weeks to come. 

My only smoked beer experience of the past comes from Schlenkerla, and that seems to be the universal standard. As such, when Metalman's Smokescreen popped up on the bar, comparisons were going to be made. First of all, it looks pretty similar, being very dark red, almost brown, and sporting a small short-lived head. The big difference is on the nose, however. Gone is the powerful yet somehow attractive smoky bacon smell of Schlenkerla's Marzen, and in its place there's a nice roast character, with some burnt toast hinting at the presence of smoked malts. Roasty fullness is the palate too, with a tickle of woody smoke in the background. It's bloody delicious, goes down incredibly easy, and impresses me about as much as any beer I've had from Metalman. Which is to say, a lot.

Next up is Dark Arts, although this time Trouble's already fantastic porter was pouring through a Randall filled with Connemara whiskey-soaked hickory, coffee beans and vanilla. Did someone say delicious? Yes, I did. Right after I tasted the insane woodiness, light coffee bitterness and is-it-even-there-ness of the vanilla. It's like a savoury-ish dessert in a glass, if that makes any sense. Either way, it was very good indeed.

I had myself a wee taste of Ormeau Dark, also from Trouble Brewing, and began to realise that the brewers in Kildare seem to know how to make a fantastic dark beer. This oatmeal stout is hearty, to say the least. The oats work wonders in filling the beer out, buffing up the already robust coffee, milk chocolate and malted biscuit flavours. It went pretty fast in the Bierhaus, so I hope I get to enjoy a full pint of it soon.

Finally, we leap off the island and land in Leeds. I've been to the city a few times (thanks to that great Irish tradition of supporting an English football team with which you have no connection), but I've only ever gone for a drink in the Brewdog bar. As such, the seemingly rich brewing tradition of Yorkshire has been hitherto unexplored by the Destrier, so when a cask from Kirkstall found its way to Popes Quay, I made it my business to be there. More than once. That's how delicious Kirkstall Pale Ale is. Rather than being a brash and bold hop assault (which I certainly wouldn't expect from a 4% Briton anyway), it was a paradise of tropical fruit that only grew riper and sweeter as time went one, like real life fruit. A light candied citrus fruit and caramel biscuit sweetness could be found underneath, but nothing strong enough to take away from the mildly bitter, juicy hops. Delicious and dangerously drinkable, I absolutely loved it. I'd be curious enough to taste this from the keg, but to be honest, it just seems so perfectly suited to cask. 

Seek out any or all of these beers, you won't be disappointed with the discovery.


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