Barney's brew is one of those well respected beers that we, on this Island always look forward to at beer festivals. It sometimes makes an appearance in pubs on cask but usually it's a beer festival beer. Hilden have recently started bottling however so now we can get it anytime we like, though it will be inevitably different in bottle than on cask.
For those that have never heard of it though, and I would say the majority of US readers and probably quite a few British readers, it's quite a simple beer. Essentially it's a wheat beer with the addition of black pepper, cardamon and coriander (cilantro). The result is astounding, but only on a subtle level. This is not an in your face beer and in fact might be considered boring by many.
Surprisingly for a wheat beer, and a bottled one at that, there is pretty much no head on pouring. Perhaps a wheat beer glass might produce better results but I was surprised, though the cask version of course is just as insipid (more so) in the foam department. It was also a lot clearer than I would have thought, again I have only ever had it on cask and it was never quite so crystal clear. It looks like a lager, even down to the bubbles.
On tasting I was immediately hit with fizzy bubbles dancing across my tongue, again something I would not experience in the cask version. It drinks like a refreshing lager, crisp, clean and incredibly refreshing. The cardamom coriander and black pepper enhance the beer but do not dominate it. Instead they tingle the tongue and make an otherwise dull pseudo lager in to a slightly interesting beer. The result is something I could drink happily all night, although at 5% it's a little on the high side to be truly sessionable.
I have never had a Belfast Bap , the beer is made in honour of Barney Hughes who created the apparently infamous Belfast Bap. I wonder if the beer goes well with one? No doubt it probably does and I imagine it goes down well with a curry too.
This is one of those beers that I can't be sure, but could possible be better in bottle than on cask. It's great on cask but I think it might be better in bottle but since the bottle is fresher in my mind, the only way to know is a side by side. No point in a blind tasting because the cask would stand out a mile for obvious reasons.