When I heard that there was an Irish brewery starting up with a mission to commercially brew Belgian beer styles - with dedication to the point of using classic Belgian Duvel style stubby bottles - I was very excited. That brewery was Holy Mountain in Mayo. Much hard work in the neat farmhouse brewery (documented here) as well as a name change to Mescan, and beers are finally flowing. Distribution is low, so it took a trip to Mayo by what must be a very dedicated Bierhaus team for me to get my hands on a trio of bottles.
I started with the Stout, which pours suspiciously pale for the style, showing plenty of light through its red/brown depths. There's nothing iffy about the nose though; slightly smoky dark fruit and a hint of tobacco, which much of the same on the palate. Blackberries and roasty malts fight to be heard over a very effervescent delivery but just about get the job done. While hinting towards the darker, more savoury aspects of Foreign Extra, it remains resolutely conservative, and more drinkable for it. Not bad at all.
The White followed, and just like the stout, it proved incredibly drinkable fare. Despite not listing any spice among the ingredients, this white delivers a heavy handed hit of coriander and clove atop the light, citrusy wheatiness. This perfectly offsets the sweetness of said malts, avoiding flirtation with cloying over-sweetness in a way that Olé Olé couldn't. A solid wit to add to Ireland's roster.
I finished on the Blond, which, despite once again being a quite sinkable affair, failed to produce as much notable characteristics as the other two. Sure, there's the background of caramel biscuit, a whiff of citrus fruitiness, and a finish that pines towards a spiciness that is just unwilling to attend, but this beer passes by too easily for my liking. Unlike the other two, which managed to be eminently drinkable while asserting their own character, the Blond fails to perform for me.
All in all, a good showing from Mescan who, despite all the hard work to date, are still at very early stage. I look forward to seeing what they do with the bigger Belgian styles.