In the Eight Degrees timescale, it feels like aeons since I've last spoken about a new beer from that beautiful, bland industrial estate in Mitchelstown. That last new beer was Enigma, enjoyed way back in April, and since then the guys have added two new beers to the ever-changing line-up of seasonals and specials.
The first of these two is Oxymoron, a Kiwi wit (cue laughing track at the friendly ANZAC jabs). As you may guess, it is a wit beer with New Zealand hops, another of those trendy Old/New World crossovers that craft brewers love but that produce mixed results at best. Still, Eight Degrees have a decent record with that sort of thing; their Nelson Sauvin saison (recently reappearing, I'm delighted to see) was superb, even if their previous hoppy wit Olé Olé didn't do much but sit there and be quenching. Oxymoron lands somewhere between the two in terms of its success.
It looks the part of a wit, but sniffing the beer doesn't tell you much apart from the faint whiff of wit spice. Bitter is the first impressing on the palate, coming from both the juicy, citrusy hoppy angle and the crunchy herb and spice angle. Lemon, clove and coriander abound, with pineapple peeking through the gaps. This is so easy to drink, far beyond the limits of its ABV.
It certainly doesn't have the sort of fresh lupuline impact as the other Eight Degree 'new world' beer, but that has worked towards finding a satisfying balance.
Grand Stretch is the new new Eight Degrees beer, launched at ABV fest in Belfast a couple of weeks ago. It is an IPA (of course), of a sessionable 4.2%. A full-on, concentrated, jammy orange and grapefruit kick is the bones of this beer. For the ABV, it has a ridiculously good hop bang for its buck, as well as a pretty robust, medium to full body to go along with. Grapefruit skins and zest and an intense bitterness see the beer out, the overall thing being quite dry. Fantastic stuff for such a modest strength, though, one imagines the lupuline investment on the part of the brewer was anything but modest.
Two more Mitchelstown successes.