Battle of the DIPAs.  

In the blue corner we have old hands BrewDog and their latest Born To Die Double IPA. Weighing in at 8.5%, this ‘Terminally Hoppy IPA’ demands to be drank before the 13th of May. So I drank it with some time to spare. The last iteration I had of this was supplied to me by Wayne ‘Irish Beer Snob’ Dunne and it came in a largish bottle. This time around, the more sensibly sized can was picked up in Kenny’s, Lucan. 

In the red corner we have young contender Whiplash with his 2017 version of Surrender To The Void. It’s another ballsy 8.5% Double IPA. It doesn’t make any demands to be drank as it’s rather more nihilistic and, dare I say it, closer in spirit to the real ethos of punk rock. I picked this one up off the Irish Craft Canning line in Rye River Brewing. You don’t get much fresher than that. 

This was as hard as battle as that heavyweight scrap that was in Wembley the other week. The BrewDog is a damn fine beer. But for me the gutsy young underdog won it on points. 

Obviously it’s difficult for me to have a completely balanced perspective here as I’m not an equity punk and I do work with Alex Whiplash Lawes in Rye River but try it yourself and let me know what you think. 

…and now seems like as good a time as any to let you know that Whiplash will be making the journey to Moate for this year’s Midlands Craft Beer Festival. They will be joined by St. Mel’s, Rascal’s and more. Shenanigans will ensue. See you there. Sláinte! 

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JJ Harlow’s Bank Holiday Beer Bash! 

The Roscommon Lamb Festival is on this weekend. For those of us who love a white, fluffy head on our beers, there was also a beer festival in JJ Harlow’s. So the kids were able to have fun making lambs with modelling clay while I enjoyed a few beers. A win win all round! I said I’d start off with something light and sessionable but James from Lough Gill had other ideas. He put his latest Onward in front of me, it’s a 9% Sloe Barley Wine. He reckons it’s the first time Sloes have been used in a beer. They made for a mellow drinking experience. Very different, you need to try it out for yourself. 

Black Donkey have just bottles their latest beer; TKO. It’s an IPA, their first! Once again it features some brilliant artwork. Pick it up and see if you can see who’s getting knocked out! It’s 5% and has some nice fruity hoppiness, very drinkable and worth waiting for. 

Galway Hooker were back in their original home town pouring the topically named Alt Fact. It’s a tasty Dunkel. I’m liking Dunkels at the moment for some reason. 

Trouble Brewing had their Hard Candy on. Now there’s one for a beer float. Hashtag all de nomz. 

Barcelona Beer Company had Miss Hops on draught. Apparently it tastes way better if you don a pair of their pink knickers. I’m a boxers man though so I didn’t chance it. The ‘High IPA’ still went down easily! 

Ha’penny Gin were doing all manner of fancy cocktails and the challenge to make beertails was accepted. The Ha’penny Gin tasted amazing with a mix of Trouble’s Fresh Prince of Kildare, Ginger and Chilli. 

After that assault on the senses I was ready for a change of pace. Sarah from Mac Ivor’s suggested their Vintage Reserve Cider. It was like a dry apple sorbet. You could easily picture yourself drinking it from champagne flutes in the garden. If you had champagne flutes, which I don’t. 

BrewDog’s Brewing Manager is a Roscommon man. So he was able to combine the festival with a chance to visit his family. It was cool to see a big brewery represented at a small beer festival in the Midlands. I tried some Cocoa Psycho which was like a rich dark chocolate party in my mouth. 

And I finished up where I started out, having went round the block, with a ‘Round The Clock. This is Lough Gill’s full on coffee Breakfast Stout. It’s only 5.2% but it doesn’t hold back on flavour. The festival was almost over then so I headed for the hills but I have to say it was a very pleasant afternoon talking to a sound bunch of beer (and cider and gin) folks. Well done JJ Harlow’s once again. Sláinte! 

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The Kingdom of Beers

Myself and my family went camping in Killarney at the weekend. We did touristy things but this IS a beer blog so I won’t detail them here! 

With all the money we saved by camping we said we’d treat ourselves and went to the Hotel Europe for dinner. I had one of the local brews from Killarney Brewing Company with my Kerry lamb but the flavours jarred a bit. The lamb was only gorgeous and the beer was grand, just not a good match for each other! 

After dinner I retired to the library with a drop of the newly released Dingle Single Malt. I’m not a whiskey expert but I’d normally sip it neat, this one needed a drop of water to mellow it out a bit. (Pretentious twat!) 

That evening I had arranged to meet Soren, a Killarney based beer nut who runs the Irish beer and breweriana Facebook page. He recommended The Celtic Whiskey Bar. 

They’ve a good number of taps on their two bars. I asked for White Gypsy Banker first as I hadn’t tried it, but, alas the tap was dry. So I opted for Killarney’s Helles instead. It went down very nicely indeed. 

I stuck with Lager and had a delicious pint of YellowBelly’s The Passion after that. Cool spot, serious selection of whiskey too, good shout Soren!  

Back at Base Camp I had Northern Monk’s Patrons Project 1.02 Coffee Porter. Earlier in the day, I’d had BrewDog’s Semi Skimmed Occultist with my chocolate Easter bunny but this one from blew that out of the water. It was rich, creamy and indulgent. If you happen upon a can I highly recommend picking it up! 

The next day we were in Dingle and I enjoyed a West Kerry Carraig Dubh with some beef and I checked how far the brewery/pub was. 11km. Sure it would’ve been rude not to pay a visit. 

My first choice was Blue Rose, an English style Pale Ale. Very refreshing and easy to drink. 

After that I tried a half of Black Elder. A Dark Ale brewed with Elderflower. On cask too, which is indeed a rare treat. I was chatting to Adrienne (hope I’ve that right!) She brews the beer and is a great host. You Really Should spin out as far as Ballyferiter. I’m glad I did before we had to hit the road home, with my patient, loving wife once again behind the wheel. Sláinte! 

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Fresh, fruity and funky feckin beers…

This one’s a bit of a round up on some of the more interesting beers I’ve had over the past fortnight. Crooked Stave’s beers have somehow managed to find their way on to the Irish market. I picked up a couple in Drinkstore a while back for a bottle share but I wasn’t able to stay the duration and didn’t actually taste them. I was then pleasantly surprised to see the one pictured above; St Bretta Brettanomyces Citrus Wild Beer in Super Valu in Celbridge. It’s €8 plus for a 375ml bottle. But sure feck it, that’s only the price of two boring pints. This one is really good, it’s got a nice sherbert pucker thing going on. Go mad, splash out on a bottle or two. 

The Fresh Prince of Kildare ( top marks for the name) is a big ass 9.2% New England Style Double IPA from Trouble Brewing which was brewed with only the freshest of hops. This one is a keg only special and I’m told there are a couple of places still pouring it, including possibly Billy Byrne’s in Kilkenny. A wee drop magically arrived in my garden in Moate. (Cheers Dave!) This one is like soup. Fresh, fruity, hoppy soup. 

Dungarvan seem to be doing a special a month this weather. The March special was Curious Orange, a Saison brewed with sweet orange peel and thyme. Of course I had this with The Fall’s ‘I Am Kurious Oranj’ playing on Spotify. I have a good few Fall albums but not that one. It’s pretty accessible and enjoyable. For an album by The Fall like. The beer is as pithy as one of Mark E Smith’s finest lines. I have a habit of enjoying Dungarvan’s Saisons and this one didn’t disappoint. 

Eight Degrees snapped up Spike from Terrapin on his recent visit to these shores and brewed Retribution with some contributions from him. It’s a Black Rye IPA and it was rather tasty. I’m really looking forward to trying the collaboration Eight Degrees have done with Drakes too! 

Dungarvan’s April special was also a Rye IPA dubbed Magic Road. I wasn’t as mad about this one, it was decent enough but I think I wanted some more hoppiness. 

A name to look out for is Wide Street Brewing. This Ballymahon based brewer has mad skills and I reckon he could be Ireland’s answer to the likes of Crooked Stave. Brett North East is a 100% Brett Pale Ale. He lists the malts, hops and yeast used in the brew on the home made label which I thought was a nice touch. It was murky as you like and the Citra came through beautifully. Good job. Sláinte! 

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I’m not drinking any more American IPAs. 

Well, not the imported ones anyway. Now if you want to hand deliver some fresh ones that’s grand. And American sours. I’ll drink those. But other than that I’m saying #drinklocal. 

Take this pair for instance. Hexed and Of Foam and Fury from Galway Bay Brewery. Super fresh and deliciously hoppy, the equal of any of your American brews. Who’s with me? Sláinte! 

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