This dredging of notes goes as far back as the beginning of May, through June and up to July, such is the unwillingness of the Destrier to let good beer go.
And this really was good beer.
Shortly after the Franciscan Well's Easterfest (I know) I was looking to catch up on those beers I'd missed in the festival garden and the Bierhaus is the most logical place to do this.
Trouble's Fallen Idol was first up. This is a heavenly concoction of brown sugary malt topped with pithy orange and lemon bitterness with a full, chewy, raisiny body. You could drink lots of this, and I'm coming to regret not having much more at the time. Excellent stuff from Kildare, and had I had it at the aforementioned festival, it could easily have been my beer of the show.
Another contender for the beer of the show at the Easterfest was O Brother's Bonita, though I didn't know it at the time. I caught up with this black IPA towards the end of June.
The nose gets smoke, coffee and an almost meaty savoury note that suggests a serious and complex beer to follow. There's nothing grave about the flavour though, however enigmatic it may be; the chocolate and coffee roastiness that separates a black IPA from an IPA is absent here. In fact, there's not much 'black' about the flavour at all, just bright zest and pithy bitterness with citrus fruit skins and dark malts. The finish is strip-your-palate bitter and lasts for ages.
This is my kind of black IPA; silky smooth, almost creamy, with dark chewy malts in favour of coarse roast malts that often only serves to interfere with the effectiveness of the hop profile.
All good things must come to an end though, and Trouble, who are churning out some of the country's best beer of late, give us Vic Secret S.M.A.S.H, a single malt, single hop beer, in case you're wondering. As I would find with the Equinox version in Dublin, the bones of this beer is a very grainy, slightly coarse, herbal, floral, even vegetal bitterness. There's some mango and lemon pleasantry on the nose, suggesting something sweet and juicy that alas, just isn't there to taste.
A faint presence of coriander, lemon shavings and flashes of lemon biscuit are to be seen only in fleeting glances behind the prickly, husky dominant character.
Perhaps I've been unlucky or unfair in my meetings with the S.M.A.S.H. series, but I think it's more likely that the beers just haven't lived up to Trouble Brewing's sky-high standards.
More hop-themed shenanigans came from Rascal's in the form of their Kiwi Pale Ale, a first entry in a series of beers designed to show off the attributes of Wakatu, Waimea and Motueku. Shown off they aren't though; this pale orange pale ale had a worrying unclean nose that smothered even the slightest suggestion of any fruit underneath. Waxy bitter and effervescent were the first things I saw fit to write down, which says a lot about how much enjoyment I could gleam from the beer. It's sweetness goes from slight to cloying in a matter of seconds, and the only remaining actual flavour descriptors I can pull out of the beer is some wet grain, biscuit and cardboard. I wouldn't be going back.
The last beer here (this time from way back in spring) is Wicklow Wolf's Solar Eclipse, a saison released to coincide with, yep, the solar eclipse on March 20th. It's was bizarrely dark for a saison and sporting a subtle, hard-to-find, vaguely coarse graininess that just about approaches the farmyard character I look for in a saison. To taste it was dark fruit, sherberty and refreshing with a not a hint of that sharp slightly-sourness that you might find in Dupont's benchmark for the style. Totally absent from my notes is the strong banana hefeweisse thing that, after Ronan behind the bar pointed it out, seemed incredibly obvious and in-your-face. Sniffing and sipping again, it was bewildering that I hadn't immediately pinned it down, and others around the bar agreed.
It's official then; I don't know anything about beer.