I feel a little cheated because this was the beer I was most looking forward to at the All Ireland Craft Beer Festival in RDS last year. While working on the 8 degrees stand, I missed it. I believe it might have lasted 20 minutes. I then proceeded to miss it appearing in a few other places until this year's Easterfest down in Cork.
There was a new version on and while I tend not to take much in the way of notes at beer festivals, I do recall it being somewhat better on cask than the bottled version. Don't let that put you off though, the bottled version is exceptionally good. Rye in beer can be hit and miss and more often than not, they can be a miss for me.
Mahon Falls is a 5.1% pale ale that's brewed with rye as its base malt. It also has a mix of American, English and Australian hops, though it could easily be New Zealand because a vaguely recall talk of Pacific Gem being used at some point, however not in the bottle as far as I know. Now, for those that have never had a beer made with rye malt, there are a few things to look out for. Firstly, there's a slight spicy/peppery note that provides the beer with a little bite. This is also evident in rye bread. I'm curious to try a rye whiskey which is very popular in parts of the US, I wonder does it have a similar spiciness to it? The other thing that tends to happen, especially with beer, is a thick sweetness and this is what sometimes ruins a beer because too much and the beer becomes a syrupy mess. If you have ever had a ryvita, then you might recognise some of the flavours that rye imparts.
In Mahon Falls, we do get the peppery notes that makes a good rye beer and while we do also get a fair bit of sweetness, it's not overpowering. Actually the beer is rather drinkable, eminently so. It reminds me of a good lager, only a little heavier. The sweetness is well balanced by a building hop bitterness. The cask version has a lot more aroma, more fruit like blackcurrents and other berries. The bottle is somewhat more subdued but it's still a fantastic beer and one I will be stocking my fridge with whenever I see it. Being a seasonal at the moment, it will not be as available as their core range and my local off licenses don't stock it so a specialist like drinkstore is needed.