Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A lovely surprise at the Czech Inn - Dublin

On Sunday I made my way from my B&B in Portmarnock (North Dublin seaside town) to Dublin City centre to arse about before I got the bus home to Westmeath. I had been at a wedding the night before with many a Dungarvan ale consumed.
It was 12:15 am when I got to the Porterhouse to find it closed so I went to the Czech Inn across the street.

I started off with a Pilsner Urquell for a little Nostalgia but I found it difficult to drink. It is just too fizzy I think. I spotted the Herold tap and then realised from the signs that they had 3 herold beers. Actually it could be 4. The tap I saw said Blond Lager but the signs mentioned Wheat, Semi-Dark and Dark. Possibly the blond lager is the wheat lager.

Remembering my dark lager introduction in Prague by VelkyAl over on Fuggled I ordered the Dark. Only a half pint mind as I had other places to go.

This is what arrived along with a sample of the semi-dark. Either the bartender was proud of his beer or he just spotted a beer lover.
The dark was absolutely divine and such a joy to drink after the bloating Pilsner Urquell. Fairly sweet with full on caramel, with plenty of coffee and dried fruit. The finish was the tongue biting finish you get from a good lager. Absolutely beautiful.

The semi dark (as they called it) gave off an almond like amaretto aroma I thought. Not sure if I imagined that because there was none of that in the taste. Instead there was a caramel biscuit sort of body of finely carbonated bubbles. It was very pleasant to drink. Less sweet than the dark but the Dark was the one that blew me away.

I think the Czech Inn warrants another visit. The last time I was there I enjoyed their food but mainly had their house beer: Murrays which while cheap, is still a rather tasty beer. There was at least one other tap I did not recognise. Zlatý bažant for one is something I want to try.

Afterwards I went to the Porterhouse for lunch and some more beers. The lunch deserves a mention here because I had the bangers and mash which comes served inside a giant Yorkshire pudding! It was fantastic. The Porterhouse is currently doing its Irish beer festival where it promotes Irish Craft Breweries. I had a Whitewater Brewery Copperhead which is a low abv, 3.7% pale ale packed full of citrus and a very nice bitter finish. It seems like a much stronger IPA.
I also tried the White Gypsy amber lager but it was fairly bland. I stuck to the €1.50 sample glasses (1/3 pint) at first but then ordered a full pint of copperhead. I did not need to sample anything else as I have had all the other available beers many times. Except some of the Porterhouse own lagers like Chiller and temple brau etc. There were a few I wanted that were not available though. I'm sure I will rectify that at Easterfest in Cork.

Later on I had two pints of brown ale at Messrs Maguire, finishing the weekend where I had started on Saturday afternoon. This time getting on the bus instead of getting off.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Oirish stout from Kent.... In a clear bottle no less....

Lidl's habit of providing Shepherd Neame beers to it's Irish stores is going strong. Often they are boring metallic numbers but I have never had a stout from Shepherd Neame so of course I had to try some.
Well it ticked all the stout boxes. Chocolate , Coffee, Bitter finish but the metallic hop notes were there too. The metallic finish in Shepherd Neame beers is not a bad thing as such but I think it detracted from the stout somewhat. Also it was rather fizzy, carbonated to the levels that American beers can be carbonated to which is surprising for an English brewery.

The end result was a pleasant and easy to drink stout that is Irish only in the fact there are some dodgy looking shamrocks on the bottles. That and of course it is fairly dry as Irish stouts tend to be. Not the best stout I have ever had of course but a solid stout nonetheless and worthy of the lidl price which was about €1.99 I believe. Still a lot more expensive than in the UK but not bad by Irish prices. I knocked back 3 or 4 of them along with a Bishops finger over a weekend.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

American beer night - The leftovers

Further from my last post on the American beer night I hosted, here are two beers that we did not drink on the day because everyone had tasted them before.

The first one I had not personally tasted before. This is Stone's Sublimely self righteous ale. I'm fairly certain the others had but if not, I apologise for the oversight and can only put it down to the fact that we had tasted enough beer.
Essentially this is a Black IPA and I believe the first of it's kind I have tried.
So how does a Black IPA differ from a clear, amber IPA (The normal kind)?
Well it's black.... and that's pretty much it sorry. If I was blindfolded I would not be able to tell it was not clear amber. The aroma was the usual American style IPA infused with pine needles, grapefruit and a little caramel. It was quite sweet and the caramel really came out when I tasted it. It was also a little boozy.

So the purpose of a Black IPA, and feel free to disagree with me on this one, but the purpose is either:
  1. So the brewery does not need to bother clearing or filtering their beer.
  2. Not have Guinness drinkers turn their nose up at you and accept you as one of them.
It was a nice beer and I enjoyed it.



Racer 5 is a beer I have had before but it was brief and I took no notes. Also I had it on tap and not bottle. One difference, according to the two pictures is that on tap it was much brighter and more yellow where as in the bottle it is more an amber/orange colour.
The taste perfection itself. A perfectly balanced IPA. I find making notes on IPA's to be quite difficult since they all have the same characteristics so it is really about how well they come together in the end. I personally love a balanced IPA not going too far in either the bitter or sweet direction. Racer 5 ticks all my boxes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fizzy paint thinner?

My second beer from De Dolle brewery is Arabier. This 7% Belgian beer was very hard to drink I thought. It was like drinking a bottle of fizzy paint thinner. It was actually so strong that I got nothing subtle out of it at all. My mouth and throat felt raw afterwards.

The odd thing is that by all accounts on the internet, the alcohol content should be fairly muted.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Very refreshing

Young's London Gold is a fantastic light, crispy golden colour ale. A dry finish with citrus and honey to keep you happy. Not much to say, nothing spectacular but this is a solid and refreshing beer that is perfect as an introduction of ale to a lager drinker.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Oh say can you see....

by the dawns early light.... (depends on how many you had the night before I suppose)
It is perhaps fitting that the American national anthem goes to the tune of an old English drinking song.

A couple of weeks back I invited some fellow Beoir members to my house to try some of the American craft beers I had brought home. I had 20 bottles myself, although one was Sam Adams winter lager which everyone had tried before so it was mostly skipped over. This consisted of the 18 bottles I brought back from the US and two Bells beers my wife brought back for me (she stayed longer).
There were three attendees and myself. Two others could not make it in the end which was a good thing as it meant the four of us got a decent sample of the beer. It was also a good mix because myself and BeerNut are Irish and then we had two Americans consisting of Adam and Richard.

Since I have already talked about the beers I brought back myself, this post is about the beers that the other guys brought that I had not tried before.

First up was Adam's offering of Vrienden which is part of New Belgium Brewery's Lips of faith series. It is a collaboration with Allagash who I have never come across before.
Vrienden is in the style of Belgian spontaneous fermented beers also known as Lambics of which Cantillon would be my favorite. Hibiscus and endive (some sort of Chicory type plant). I have no idea what either of these taste like in general so I can't say if I could pick them out of the beer.
Unlike a proper lambic, this is not actually fermented using spontaneous fermentation. Instead a hand picked wild yeast & bacteria cocktail was added in the same way a modern commercial yeast strain would be. Brettanomyces & Lactobacillus are the little beasties in question.
The result of this wild fermentation fakery is a pleasant bubblegum infused beer with a fair bit of sourness but plenty of sweetness as well. There did seem to be a lot going on, in fact I think there was just too many different extremes battling for dominance that my pallet just gave up. I did get some pineapple if it helps.

I will not rule this one out, I think a beer like this might require more than a small glass measure to try it. A full bottle next time I come across it then. It may not have been the best beer of the night but it wins hands down for being the most interesting and discussed.


There is something aesthetically wrong about Craft beer in a can. Dales Pale Ale was one of Richard's contributions. Oskar Blues has the distinction* of being the first craft brewery to put their beer in cans. We will get to the can issue in a moment.
The beer itself was actually very good, surprisingly so in fact. It was more on the bitter end of the scale than some of the more balanced and sweeter American pale ales. In actual fact I would rather like to have a steady supply of this as a fall back beer.

Now briefly on to the issue of canned beer. The big problem is that beer that comes in cans is traditionally rubbish. It is far more complicated and expensive to can beer than bottle it so micro breweries have always bottled. From a technical standpoint I think Cans might have a certain edge over bottles for many styles of beer.
Pros:
  • Can's are cheaper to produce once the investment of the equipment is in place.
  • They are lighter, so save on transport costs as well as being more convenient for consumers.
  • No light can get in and skunk the beer.
  • Kegs are giant cans so if it's good enough for draft, it's good enough for home drinking.
  • You can bring cans to music festivals where allowed but never bottled beer for obvious safety reasons.
  • You can fit more info on a can.

Cons:
  • Not aesthetically pleasing - This may be more down to not being used to good beer in cans.
  • Cans are probably less able to handle pressure (internal and external) so naturally conditioned beer is probably out of the question.
So the conclusion? For me I have to say Cans might be better, but I would rather have my craft beer in a bottle please.

Finally 22 or 23 beers later, possibly some homebrew in there somewhere (might have been after) so maybe closer to 25 we finished off our mammoth beer session with one of the Sierra Nevada 30th anniversary editions. This time around it was the Grand Cru, a deliciously drinkable strong ale. Quite boozy but with enough pacific north west hops to make it unmistakably Sierra Nevada. Being at the end of the night, there was little chance of serious note taking so "Tasted Fantastic" was the best I could do.


It was a great day and it did not quite get to the stage of singing drinking songs.
Thanks to the guys that made it and thanks to those that brought beer.
You can read BeerNut's report here & here.
Richard also brought a bottle of Racer 5 IPA but we did not drink it as we had all had it before. That of course meant I had it all to myself a few days later....

*I'm not sure I agree that distinction is the right term here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bloody German Fonts.

It took a little googling for me to figure out just what these beers actually are. For some reason I find it very difficult to read these German fonts. It's not the language because if it was in the same font I am using on this blog for instance, I would have no issues.

Anyway the brewery is Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe which I think means it is a monastic brewery?


First beer up is Altfrankisches Klosterbier which is Cloister Beer (old style lager made in a monastery?). I don't think I was able to detect anything to mark this as anything other than your standard German Lager. It was perfectly clear even. However it was rather lovely and refreshing if a little on the thin side. A bitter and somewhat metallic finish. I reckon I would be just as well off with a Budvar or some other good German lager or Czech Pilsner.

A little more up my street was the Dopplebock called Bonator. Sweet toffee malt on the nose and a biscuit caramel body with a fair bit of fizz and a metallic fruity finish. I rather enjoyed this and might pick it up again.

Some interesting beers and I hope to find more from the brewery. I just wish they would not use these old style fonts that can be hard (for me) to read sometimes.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

That's some bad Juju....

Two more beers from Left Hand Brewery today and to this day, the brewers of the only milk stout I have ever had until I get to try my own in a few weeks.


First up is Good Juju which is essentially a Ginger Ale... Not the kind kids are limited to though. I was not sure what to make of this beer. It was like a bog standard ale with a little ginger thrown in. It reminded my of many an American wheat beer. Thin and watery with little to redeem it. I love American craft beers but there are very few good wheat beers available. Anyway this is not a wheat beer of course but the body reminded me of one with a little hint of ginger. My wife could not even taste the ginger but it was there in the aroma and taste, just not shouting to be heard which begs the question as to just what it was hiding behind? Certainly not a thick malty body or generous hops.


Far more to my liking was the Imperial Stout. The aroma is all chocolate, vanilla and some liquorice. All of these combine in the mouth and see the addition of a boozy (10.4%) quality as well as a smooth caramel finish. Plenty of coffee notes and there is the woody vanilla as well but the beer is not barrel aged so I'm not sure where that is from. This would not be the best imperial stout I have ever had but after the Juju I was in heaven.

Both beers where underwhelming however. Perfectly good beers but just seem to be missing something to make me excited.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

International Homebrew Project: Brewday

Yesterday was brewday in the second International Homebrew Project hosted by Al over at Fuggled. I could not participate last year so this year I made sure I would be able to get involved.

The Recipe is a recreation of a 1933 Barclay Perkins milk stout. There are a number of things worth pointing out about this recipe.

  1. It requires invert sugar #3
  2. It needs about 1kg of lactose
  3. Mash time is 90 minutes (+ 2x 20 min batch sparges for me)
  4. Boil time is a whopping 2.5 hours

There are 2 real differences in what I brewed and what the recipe suggests.
My base malt was Optic and instead of Crystal 75 I used Crystal 65.

Brewday started out manic because I had only got my ingredients on Friday and opened them up Saturday morning. By the time I had everything unpacked and inventoried in to Beertools it was coming up to noon. I added the recipe in to Beertools and got very different results but I went ahead with what it said and started brewing just after noon.

I immediately hit a snag while making invert sugar #3 and realised I used way too little sugar and too much water so after about an hour I dumped it down the drain and started again using a simpler method. 1 pint glass of water to 1lb of raw cane sugar and I suspect 3mg of Citric acid but my scales does not like such a small measurement so I can't be sure.
This worked fine and thickened up. I may have left it too long as when I checked it next it had gone almost black like Treacle. It's good enough, might make up for the fact my Crystal is lighter.

While I started the boiler I took 2 extra litres of wort from my mashtun to add in once the boil had kicked off and then in a sterilised glass I used some more wort to create a small started with nottingham yeast.

Everything came off without a hitch for the rest of the incredibly long brewday which took over 9 hours to complete.

It was a lot of fun because Al lives in the US at the moment and I of course live in Ireland but he got up early to start the brew and it turned out we were brewing at the same time and updating twitter as we went along. Tweedd_Ale was also brewing and tweeting along with us.

I got an OG of 1.056 (BeerTools originally claimed it would be 1.058).
There is another 470g of lactose to go in while priming along with the priming sugar.

I have copied Als schedule in here.
  • March 5/6 - Brew the beer - Check
  • March 19/20 - Bottle the beer
  • April 9/10 - Sample the beer
  • Monday April 11th - Blog about the beer



1933 Barclay Perkins Milk Stout


13-B Sweet Stout


BeerTools Pro Color Graphic



Size: 18.04 L

Efficiency: 63.72%

Attenuation: 45.12%

Calories: 195.55 kcal per 12.0 fl oz



Original Gravity: 1.056 (1.044 - 1.060)

|===================#============|



Terminal Gravity: 1.031 (Actual: 1.022) (1.012 - 1.024)

|================================|



Color: 62.67 (59.1 - 78.8)

|==========#=====================|



Alcohol: 3.32% (4.0% - 6.0%)

|==#=============================|



Bitterness: 41.2 (20.0 - 40.0)

|========================#=======|


Ingredients:



2.41 kg Optic Pale Ale Malt

480 g Amber Malt

260 g Brown Malt

260 g Light Crystal

380 g Roasted Barley

300 g Invert Sugar #3 - added during boil, boiled 30 min

570 g Lactose - added during boil, boiled 30 min

30 g Fuggle (4.7%) - added during boil, boiled 150 min

30 g East Kent Goldings (5.2%) - added during boil, boiled 90 min

1 ea Danstar 3767 Nottingham

Results generated by BeerTools Pro 1.5.12

NOTE the TG was 1.022 making this beer

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Session #49 - Mine's a......


Guinness..... In all serious though, when I am out somewhere that does not serve any form of Craft Beer or even some of the newer pub imports such as Paulaner, Erdinger, Hoegaarden etc then Guinness is my go to beer. If I can get it in a pint bottle then I will because it is a far superior drink compared to the Nitrogenated kegged version. Otherwise I am quite happy to drink a Guinness, although I will gladly replace it for the more flavoursome Murphy's if they happen to serve it.

You could say that Guinness is my least favourite beer in that case, of the beers I will willingly drink of course. There are many beers I would not willingly drink. Coors Light and almost any of the crap yellow fizzy lagers available in Ireland.
Budvar (Proper Budweiser) is the exception. It is getting more common and I do like my Budvar.

It is very rare for me to purposely go to a pub where there is no craft beer though. When I do, I will usually go for something like Galway Hooker or if they are serving Cask, I might ask for "whatever is on Cask".

Last night saw the official launch of the first beer from Metalman Brewery who are sorting out a premises in Waterford. For now they are brewing at the White Gypsy brewery in Templemore, Tipperary.



I may have just found a new regular beer because before I came up the stairs to the launch party I was eating dinner downstairs and I had a Galway Hooker. I wanted it fresh in my mind for when I tried the Metalman Pale Ale. I did have a cask O'Hara's stout in between but the Hooker was still fresh in my mind so I was surprised when I tried the Metalman beer and decided I prefer it over a hooker. I think it is the fact that the Metalman offering has more in the way of citrus aroma than Hooker. It is more delicate and lighter in colour.

Only time will tell if this will have an impact of my instant choice of Galway Hooker if it's available but I will never frown upon my Hooker either.


Incidentally this is the first time I have actually joined in on "The Session" because quite simply, I usually forget all about it. I guess my Session Cherry has just been popped.

This months session is being hosted by Stan Hieronymous from Appellation Beer.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ya Mad Bitch

Hailing from the De Dolle Brewery in Belgium is Dulle Teve (Mad Bitch). The name is fitting as it explodes out of the bottle and into the glass with a massive foamy white head. The aroma is like a fruit salad, a bit of everything. As well as the fruit I got some sherbet fizz.

The taste is very boozy with plenty of that fruit salad. A bit more sherbet but the alcohol got a little overwhelming to the point being like paint thinner.

I liked it but it lacked the balance of most Belgian beers and seemed to be more in your face like an American Tripel.