First published in the Irish Times online, Wednesday 23rd March, 2016
Galway Hooker Sixty Knots India Pale Ale
Galway Hooker was one of the first craft brewers in the country, set up in 2006 by cousins Ronan Brennan and Aidan Murphy. Murphy is very happy with the boom in new craft brewers. ‘It’s a funny kind of thing; the competition elevates the whole craft beer market so it is mostly positive. The more beers, the more momentum we all seem to get.’ Originally set up in Roscommon, they moved to a bigger new brewery in Oranmore two years ago. ‘It is certainly a lot more comfortable’ says Aidan.
Sixty Knots was launched about a year ago, and is now a permanent fixture, alongside the original Irish Pale Ale, Stout and Amber Ale. ‘Basically we were trying to produce a traditional India Pale Ale with high alcohol content and a high level of bitterness (it has 60 ibu). It is a little bit different from other Irish IPAs in that it has a combination of the punchy citrus of American hops combined with the earthy spiciness of European hops’. Sixty Knots certainly has a lively bitterness, but it is very nicely underpinned by pine resin and a broad maltiness.
Geoff FitzPatrick of Jack Cody’s
Duxie Grapefruit Tea Pale Ale, Jack Cody’s Brewery
First published in the online Irish Times on 24th February, 2016
Yes, you read it correctly. A beer that lists pink grapefruit , lime and earl grey tea as ingredients alongside the usual barley, hops, yeast and water. The label says drink in the sunshine, something that is currently in short supply, or with salads, smoked mackerel or Thai red curry. I had none of these to hand, but gave it a go anyway. It has aromas of candy and orange peel, and a light, refreshing, lightly bitter palate of fruit and candy again and some grapefruit. It also has the slight yet definite soapy perfume and flavour of earl grey tea. I liked it but could see how others wouldn’t.
Set up in Drogheda by Geoff FitzPatrick, Jack Cody’s has been going since the summer of 2014, making a good name for itself with Smiggy Amber Ale and Puck Pilsner. The brewery also has Hail Glorious Saint Patrick Extra Stout out for the coming national day.
The Rotation Series Episode 4 Oatmeal & Coffee Stout
Stone Barrel Brewing Company
First published in the online Irish Times Wednesday 17th February, 2016
What do bankers do when they tire of taking our money? Make beer if Stone Barrel is anything to go by. Niall FitzGerald and Kevin McKinney had been friends for a long time. “We both worked in financial services in the glory days. We were low level though” stresses Kevin, “if we had been real bankers we have a really fancy brewery by now.” For the moment they brew in Craftworks, the brewing facility in Broombridge. However, they have now bought their own kit and hope to set up their own operation in the next eight to ten weeks.
“We were home brewers for a long time and like a lot of people, always wanted to have our own brewery.” Their first beer, Boom, was released in November 2013. “We made a conscious decision to develop one product and push it as much as possible. We are hugely proud of the result; it is our bread and butter.” The oatmeal and coffee is the fourth in their rotational series. “Whenever we have a bit of spare capacity we try a once off to keep us and the beer drinkers interested,” says Kevin.
The label is not the easiest to read. “We had a mishap with the printers and the label came out a lot darker than we anticipated”, says Kevin. “But we needed to get the beer out there before Christmas so we went ahead. Label aside, this is a very nice beer, with plenty of dark roasted coffee and dark chocolate too, alongside some hoppy fruit. All of this darkness matched my mood, as I watched Ireland go under in Paris.
Mike Magee, Head brewer at Eight Degrees
Barley wine is not a wine at all, but a beer. It has a long history, going back to Ancient Greece, although these would have tasted very different to the modern versions, as back then there were no hops around. The wine part is a reference to its alcoholic strength, as barley wine comes in at a strapping 8-13% alcohol, making it one of the strongest beers of all. There are two styles, English and American; English tends to be maltier and rounded in flavour, American intensely hoppy and bitter. Apparently they age very well, like a good wine. However, if you want to try ageing the Eight Degrees version, you will have to be quick off the mark; the brewery is down to its last few cases.
The name says it all; Eight Degrees Mór is big and bold, with masses of American hops. The nose is deceptive, with light notes of toffee. The palate is massive, with buckets of stone fruits, caramel and spicy bitter hops. The alcohol (10.2%) kicks in nicely; this is a well-balanced robust warming beer, perfect for these cold January evenings. €4.49 for a 33cl bottle from specialist off-licences.