Just before Christmas, I received a sample box from James at Lough Gill Brewing. Some of you might know that James founded The White Hag a few years ago and then later sold his share to his business partners which I imagine helped him set up his new venture. Lough Gill is the first brewery in Sligo town in about 100 years. The brewery itself looks like it's located in a business park just by Cleveragh Retail Park which has the likes of Smyths and Argos according to Google street view.
I actually gave Lough Gill a nod in my Golden Pints Awards for Best New Brewery 2016 without even tasting their beer. I did it purely because they are having the craic with the names of their beers as I'll explain while I talk about them.
Thieving Bastards pale ale is your typical 5% Irish pale ale, or so you might think. For one thing, it's rather dark. It's a sort of murky amber bordering on brown in regular light. If you add direct sunlight like I did in the picture, it starts to look a little like a red ale. The name I suspect is a bit of a two fingers to Heineken and their Orchard Thieves cider brand as well as the scandal from earlier last year where Heineken products were accidentally re-branded as fake Irish craft beer.
The beer itself? It's a malt forward pale ale with a sort of burnt toffee note and packed full of American C hops. It's pretty tasty and I like what they have done with the beer but it just doesn't scream pale ale to me. It's too heavy and dark and would do better if it was branded as an amber ale which is actually what they use in their description on the website.
Probably even more controversial as a name is Heinoweiser, a middle finger to two very obvious breweries. It brings back memories of the original porterhouse beer names like Weiserbuddy which I'm pleased to report has been brought back for a limited time for their American beer festival. OK so Weiserbuddy was renamed Chiller so I imagine they have just renamed it back to Weiserbuddy for the festival which started yesterday and runs until the 29th of January.
Heinoweiser is a 5.5% crushable IPA according to the can. A crushable IPA as far as I can tell is another term for a session IPA which explains the relatively low ABV.
It's a murky orange which borders on pale amber and looks a little more pale ale than Thieving Bastards. It tastes quite similar to the pale ale but has a more fruity orange thing going on with slightly less bitterness. The C hops seem a little less pronounced here. I think it's an interesting combination. There's a lasting bitter orange pith finish.
Mac Nutty is a, wait.... who are they having a dig at here? Probably no one but if I use my imagination, I can visualise them having a go at Smithwicks and their brewery squirrel. You know, the one that actually brews the beer according to a marketing campaign. Am I clutching at straws?
Anyway, it's called Mac Nutty because it's brewed with macadamia nuts that they hand roasted in their kitchen. This would make it a nut brown ale. This time, the colour is more like what I would expect. It's a deep mahogany reddish brown. I thought it was a great winter beer. Lashings of sweet muscovado and a strong caramel base. There's a slight but omnipresent bitterness to balance the malt. I'm actually not sure about the nuts though, I couldn't really detect them. In fact, I really don't know how one can get any flavour extracted from nuts. Most nut brown ales don't contain nuts, the malt infers a nut like mouthfeel and sometimes flavour. Either way, I liked the beer a lot.
One interesting side note is that the description mentions they use real macadamia nuts but the ingredients and allergy list don't mention them either on the can or the website so it might be worth rectifying that so pedantic fucks like me don't point it out..... and there's my little dig at Lough Gill. I'm sure James can take it.
Oh and if you notice the glass I used, it says Anderson's Irish Ale on it. That glass was supplied by Lough Gill and is another of their brands that has yet to be released in can or bottle as far as I can tell. I believe it is on draught though. It's a typical 4% Irish red ale according to the website and name comes from an old brewery in Sligo town from 1820.
They also have another range of experimental beers that look like they could be interesting so I'll have to keep an eye out for them to appear in Dublin. You can't miss them as they feature a topless bearded man of various fitness levels on the branding.
Thanks to James for sending on the samples and I look forward to seeing the brewery do well.