Posts Tagged craft beer

A Beer called Rwanda, Wicklow Wolf

Feeling a little jaded after all those celebrations? Need a little boost before the New Year’s revelry? What better pick-me-up than the hair of a dog combined with a dose of caffeine? A Beer called Rwanda is just that; a collaboration between Bray brewer Wicklow Wolf, who make a string a very tasty beers, and coffee importer and roaster Java Republic. It is 5.1 per cent in alcohol with light coffee aromas and an enticing mix of blackcurrants, redcurrants, lightly toasted coffee bean and a touch of caramel.

“We wanted to do a seasonal and we are friendly with some of the people in Java Republic,” says Quincey Fennelly of Wicklow Wolf. “It was kind of on the cards for nine months but we couldn’t fit it in. Rather than doing the obvious coffee porter we decided to do a brown ale.”

Java Republic recommended the Rwanda coffee. “The name was really just a working title but we liked it and so did they. The beer has gone down extremely well and is almost sold out. We may brew it again for next Christmas. In the meantime we have a few other ideas up our sleeve for 2016.’

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Rhubarb Tart IPA, James Brown Brews

DSCF6221This seems more of a crumble than a tart, but lets not be too picky. James Brown is not the first to make a rhubarb beer, but I haven’t seen any other Irish craft brewer produce one before.
He used 300kgs of rhubarb and 28kgs of hops hoping to create something fairly big and memorable. The result is an interesting beer, light, belying its 7 per cent alcohol, tangy and lightly fruity with a cleansing tart sourness from the rhubarb. There is a nice biscuit character and an attractive hoppy touch. When I talked to James, he was very busy with his day job as assistant manager in one of the O’Briens off-licences. He did say his next batch will be tweaked a little to give a little more rhubarb kick. In the meantime, this is well worth trying out.

Posted in: Beer & Whiskey, Irish Times

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The White Hag Black Boar Imperial Oatmeal Stout

From The Irish Times online version, Wednesday 2nd December, 2015

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The White Hag Brewing company launched as recently as August 2014, but already has a very loyal following. ‘Our beers are different’, says American brewer Joe Kearns; ‘we don’t do an accessible red ale, stout and lager like most of the others. Our beers are big and bold, American style made using Irish ingredients where possible. We have a heather ale made without any hops. Our water comes from a bog and is very soft, ideal for stout. It doesn’t have to be treated, filtered or pasteurised.’

Imperial Stout, sometimes called Imperial Russian Stout has a reputation as the bad boy of the beer world. First brewed in London back in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century for the Russian court, it is high in alcohol – up to 12%, and coming down with dark flavours. Think roast chocolate, coffee and roasted malt. Imperial can be dry or sweet, intense or medium-bodied, it can be flavoured with extra hops, milk chocolate, coffee, liquorice, sea salt, spices, extra malt, or even chili. The use of oats in stout is fairly common. It adds a smooth texture to the beer.

The White Hag Imperial Oatmeal Stout was launched at the Craft Beer Fest in 2014, where it won the fan’s favourite award. It went on to become Beoir’s Best Stout in Ireland in 2015 and runner up for Beer of the Year 2015. This, it hardly needs saying, is not a session beer. Big (10.2% but never burns), bold and full of roasted barley and dark chocolate, with a lovely smooth texture, this demands careful contemplation on cold winter nights. White Hag will release a special version of the Imperial Stout for Christmas. Aged in whiskey casks and available in a 75cl bottle. One to leave out for Santa perhaps?

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Brooklyn Sorachi Ace

From The Irish Times online 22nd May, 2015


“The beer you grew up with did not taste of beer. It was crappy beer.”

Garrett Oliver hauled up at the Ballymaloe Litfest last weekend to take part in debates and promote the cause of craft beer. Articulate, witty and hugely knowledgeable, he is a formidable and persuasive speaker. As well as writing the Oxford Beer Companion and The Brewmaster’s Table, he has been the driving force behind the Brooklyn Brewery, one of the most successful and innovative craft brewers in the US. In addition to their standard range, Brooklyn produces once-off highly experimental beers and seasonal releases.

Oliver uses leftover lees from cider, spruce needles, myrtle, citrus peels, pepper, honey, bourbon casks, and a host of other ingredients to add flavour and complexity to the beers. He is a great believer in matching beer and food too. The Sorachi Ace hop was developed in Japan in the 1970s, a cross between a Czech and British hop. The beer has wonderful herby lemon zest aromas, a soft dry palate full of herby flavours. Unique and delicious.

Widely available.

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Dark Arts Porter, Trouble Brewing

Dark Arts Porter, Trouble Brewing

From The Irish Times, online ‘Take it Home’ 12th June, 2015

DSCF55874.4% €2.99 for a 500ml bottle Widely available

“It’s not about the hops. It is all about the malts”, says Paul O’Connor of Trouble Brewing. “We use six different kinds of malt in the brew alongside some flaked barley.” The Dark Arts beers always have enough flavour to please the beer nuts while still appealing to the rest of us. “Dark Arts was the second beer we did, six months after we started. It arrived fully-formed. We have never tweaked the recipe since that first batch. We intended it to be a one-off special but people raved about it and it quickly became our second core beer. It’s never been the best-selling beer (that would be the Deception Golden Ale) but we have always got great reviews.” This is great porter, one of my go-to beers when I need something to sip slowly on a midweek evening. Medium-bodied with chocolate and roasted coffee, and a light hoppy freshness.

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Black Donkey Brewing Sheep Stealer Irish Farmhouse Ale

Black Donkey Brewing Sheep Stealer Irish Farmhouse Ale

From the Irish Times online “Take it Home’ 7th August, 2015

€3.39 for a 500ml bottle.

Black Donkey Brewing is based in Ballinlough, Co. Roscommon. Richard Siberry and Michaela Dillon returned here from New York, having learnt the art of brewing in their garage. ‘Next Thursday marks a year since our first sale to the Salt House in Galway,’ says Siberry, ‘ so we’ll be having a tap takeover with our three beers there. The following Friday we will have four on tap in 57 The Headline in Clanbrassil St., including Beyond, our new rye pale ale.’

But it is the Sheep Stealer we look at today. ‘When we launched it people said it wouldn’t take off, but it was a favourite style of mine and we have been very pleasantly surprised by the reaction. It is very accessible, but that doesn’t make it bad. I think it’s where spaghetti or pizza was twenty years ago. People will fall in love with it. I suspect Irish brewers were brewing something similar a hundred years ago, even if it is seen as a Belgian style nowadays.’

The Sheep Stealer is a cloudy, funky Saison, full of sweet maltiness and peaches with a clean dry citrus finish. Thirst-quenching and moreish, this is one of the best beers I have tasted in quite a while. You can certainly enjoy it with food – mine went very well with a few cheeses – but I would happily sip this solo any day.

If you feel like going one step further, try Buck It, which Siberry describes as a malt-bomb. ‘Buck It is divisive’, he admits. ‘Some people love it, others can’t bear to be in the same room as it. But that’s fine with me – if I had wanted to please everyone I would have made Budweiser!’

Available from specialist off-licences

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