Pauric Brennan got in touch recently about his new film The Crafty Irish. He tells the story of some of our brilliant Irish breweries. Or rather, he lets them tell their own stories, in their own words. As I’m not a film critic I’m going to borrow something from a cinema classic:
The style is very relaxed and the chats seem quite natural and unscripted. Given that I know all of the subjects on one level or another I can say with a fair amount of certainty that this is close as you’ll get at the moment to having a cup of coffee or indeed a pint with these brewers. Speaking of which, I should tell you who’s involved.
You have the legendary Richard from Black Donkey in Roscommon. The lads Barry, Brian and Rich from O Brother in Wicklow. Paddy from 12 Acres in Laois and David from Ballykilcavan, also in Laois. Actually, they’re all legends.
There’s plenty of humour along the way and this helps to leaven the reality of the brewing game, which is very much a labour of love.
The Bad and the Ugly
On International Women’s Day I feel like I should mention that there are no women featured. And there are women working hard in the Irish brewing industry. They’re definitely in the minority, but still. And lads, it has to be said, none of you are going to win any beauty contests!
Treaty City have just launched their core range in some very snazzy cans. They very kindly sent me out some to try, addressed to ‘Simon Says Beer’! I popped open Outcast first. It’s labelled a Juicy IPA, and at 3.8% you could say a perfectly sessionable one too. It’s hazy and has a great floral aroma. Refreshing and crushable, you won’t go wrong with this one.
Harris Pale Ale was probably the first beer I had from Treaty City way back in February 2015. Back then it had a weird bubblegum flavour which is thankfully a distant memory. It’s now a very solid easy drinking pale ale. Perfect core range beer that deserves to be highlighted as part of Flagship February.
Invasion IPA was formerly known as Shannon River IPA. They’ve upped the abv slightly from 5.8 to 6% but retained the piney Centennial hop aroma and citrus bitterness. This makes for a very enjoyable American style IPA.
The accompanying letter states that the ‘…move to cans is based primarily on Quality and Environmental basis.’ I can confirm that these are quality, cans are definitely the best way to keep beer fresh as they keep out oxygen and light. And the new can artwork will brighten up a dull day or a dark evening. They are available in several good off licences and will also ship nationwide: https://treatycitybrewery.ie/product/new-core-cans/ Sláinte and sure look, yurt!
Once upon a time, about a year ago an old* friend got in touch to see if I’d like a bottle of Pliny The Younger from Russian River. Of course I would. As you may be aware certain events have disrupted travel somewhat. So fast forward to this year. Did I still want that beer? Yes please! Anything else? Oh, anything at all, maybe a Blind Pig…
And she delivered! The Blind Pig was bottled on the 4th of January so it was nice and fresh. I opened it first as it is a mere 6.25%. This is a proper old school West Coast IPA. The aroma is a blast of freshly cut lemon and lime citrus. It has a pleasant slightly oily mouthfeel. The bitterness is bang on. This is a fantastic beer and I was very impressed.
This year’s Pliny the Younger release wasn’t in person and the online demand was absolutely huge. Think Bruce Springsteen playing Vicar Street. Last year was only the first time it was bottled since being brewed first in 2005. My bottle was from the 5th of February last year. So I was opening it exactly a year later. The label included the usual advice to drink fresh for the best hop aroma. But, as it was 10.25% I was pretty confident that it would have held up well. **
Yup, there was still a nice amount of pine on the nose. The bitterness had mellowed a good bit, but it wasn’t overshadowed by the caramel sweetness of the malt. So, I’d imagine that it would be a far bit different fresh. That said, I still thoroughly enjoyed the beer and count myself lucky to have gotten to try it. One day, I’ll be there in person for the launch. Sláinte!
*when I say old I just mean that we know each other a long time.
**I normally wouldn’t review a beer that’s past its prime but chose to make an exception.
This blog has always celebrated the joy of seasonal ales and Pumpkin Ales are included! The one I have had most of is from Trouble Brewing, which I had in 2013, 2014 , 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2020. This year it came in a can for the first time and it tastes as good as ever. It’s light and spicy and you could manage a few of them without difficulty. And it’s only 4.5%. Cheers to Joe McNab for tracking this one down in Ardkeen Grocers for me. (In fairness the lads in Craft Central and O’Brien’s, Athlone also got in touch when they had some as they knew I was on the hunt!)
I picked up White Hag’s Samhain Pumpkin Ale in (the always well stocked) Carry Out Tullamore. It’s their first Pumpkin Ale, but not their first beer called Samhain. This one is more full on at 6.2% and is heavier, like a creamy dessert beer. It has a vanilla, toffee pudding aroma which follows through to the flavour. There is also some cinammon in there and it tastes like Autumn. This is good craic but one is plenty.
I found New Belgium’s Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin in Dicey Reilly’s, Ballyshannon. I think it was the only American Pumpkin Ale to make it here this year. This one is 6.5% and spicy but not quite as sweet as the White Hag one. I am keeping a can to go with some pumpkin pie.
If you want to try another Irish pumpkin beer Treaty City have one available as part of their Trick’r’Treaty special release… sold out on their website but there could be some lurking around Limerick. And if you want to look back at Sean Lightholder’s plethora of Pumpkin Ale posts you can do so here! Enjoy your seasonal ales sensibly folks…Sláinte!
Treaty City have featured in this blog before, most recently last year when I visited High Nelly’s. I’ve also enjoyed their Harris Pale Ale in The Curragower, a stone’s throw from the brewery. They asked if I’d be interested in trying some of their new limited series beers and of course, I said yes please! The first one I opened was Medieval Quarter. It takes its name from the area where the brewery is located, Nicholas Street, which was Limerick’s old main thouroghfare. This is a pretty robust stout with a big roast malt bill and some hefty strong espresso coffee and dark chocolate bitterness. Of the four this is the only one brewed without adjuncts (non traditional ingredients) and it was delicious. I’d strongly suggest keeping this one around. It would pair well with hearty fare like beef stew or chocolate desserts and it drinks equally well on its own.
Next up was the Cultural Quarter. I’m not a tea drinker at all so the flavours of the tea, sourced from Cahill’s Tea Shop really stand out to me. It is easy drinking and has a dry finish that keeps you coming back for more. I was sent some notes with the beers and they also have a QR code on the label that brings you to the website where you’ll find information about the ingredients and some suggested food pairings. One suggestion for this beer is apple custard tart, the closest thing to that in the house was some fresh apple cake which worked nicely.
Georgian Quarter is a Belgian style Wit brewed with coriander seeds and orange peel. The accompanying noted recommend a tall glass and a slice of orange, who am I to argue? The head on this one dissipated quite quickly. I’m not sure if the addition of the orange helped or hindered here. No matter, this is a grand light beer for a sunny afternoon.
Having grown up close to the Shannon I’ve always felt an attachment to the river that passes through my hometown before winding it’s way down to Limerick. River Quarter was hopped with Citra and had the unusual addition of Indian black limes. These limes were boiled in salt water before being dried out, crushed and added to the brew. The combination is a winning one. This is a very pleasant Pale Ale. And at 4.6% you can enjoy a couple of them. If you want to try these beers for yourself they’re available directly from the brewery. Yurt…I mean, eh, sláinte, don’t know what came over me!