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