Saturday 10 December 2016

Hoppy Beers - blind tasting Irish craft beers

Liam Campbell

Published 12/06/2016 | 02:30

Domestically-produced Irish craft pale ales and lagers are ideal beers for the summer.
Domestically-produced Irish craft pale ales and lagers are ideal beers for the summer.
1) Mayfield 5 Pilsner Lager, Cotton Ball Brewing Co., Cork 5pc
2) All Night Long Session Pale Ale, Rascal's Brewing Co., Rathcoole, Co. Dublin 4.2pc
3) Saor Gluten Free Beer, 9 White Deer Brewery, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork 4.5pc
4) Freebird White IPA, O'Hara's Brewing Co., Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow 5pc
5) Devil's Helles Lager, Killarney Brewing Co., Co. Kerry 4.3pc
6) Irish Craft Lager, Kings of Tara, Cumberland Breweries, Newry, Co. Down 4.5pc

Pale and interesting is the theme for this blind taste test of Irish craft pale ales and lagers. A very fashionable ingredient they all have in common is hops. How a beer looks, smells, tastes and keeps is affected by hops.

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Basically, the 200 or so different varieties of hops are divided between aroma hops and bittering hops. The aroma hops contain diverse essential oils that impart scents spanning the spectrum from floral, to spicy, herbal, pine and citrusy.

The bittering hops, on the other hand, contain alpha acids that have the stabilising properties helping a beer maintain its head of foam and boosts its keeping ability, while giving an attractive bitterness, refreshing acidity and tannic texture to the taste buds.

Domestically-produced Irish craft pale ales and lagers are ideal beers for the summer when refreshment and light-bodied alcohol are at their most appealing. Sláinte!

1) Mayfield 5 Pilsner Lager, Cotton Ball Brewing Co, Co Cork, 5pc

Classic Pilsner-style with lemon zesty freshness, floral hops and mouth-filling foam.

€3.99/500ml at Spar, SuperValu, Centra and independent off-licences nationwide.

2) All Night Long Session Pale Ale, Rascal's Brewing Co, Rathcoole, Co Dublin, 4.2pc

Very forward hop aromas. Tasty malty richness with bitter hops and a tangerine peel finish.

€2.75/330ml can or €10 for 5 cans exclusive to Molloy's Liquor Stores in Dublin citywide.

3) Saor Gluten-Free Beer, 9 White Deer Brewery, Ballyvourney, Co Cork, 4.5pc

Ireland's first gluten-free beer delivers a delicate hop fragrance and lightly hopped flavour supporting the very long malty finish.

€3.95-€4.40/500ml in Dublin at Baggot Street Wines, Carpenter's, Castleknock and Martin's, Fairview; Ardkeen Quality Foodstore, Waterford; Matson's , Grange and Bandon; Number 5, Co. Waterford and Co. Tipperary; Number 21, Coburg Street, Midleton and Blarney.

4) Freebird White IPA, O'Hara's Brewing Co, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, 5pc

The American hops with their typical citrus peel and pine bouquet is mirrored on the palate.

€3.25, 500ml widely available at independent off-licences and retailers nationwide.

5) Devil's Helles Lager, Killarney Brewing Co, Co Kerry, 4.3pc

Spicy and herbal hop scents with malt more obvious on the palate in the softer Helles-style of lager and gentler carbonation.

€3.80/500ml at Spar, SuperValu, Centra and independent off-licences nationwide.

6) Irish Craft Lager, Kings of Tara, Cumberland Breweries, Newry, Co Down, 4.5pc

A deep, white persistent foam and subdued hop aromas. The refreshing citrus and steely crispness is emphasised by the high carbonation.

€4.49/330ml for a pack of four at Aldi's 124 stores nationwide.

Tasting notes

The Irish Gin & Tonic Fest takes place June 20-25 in bars, restaurants and hotels throughout the island of Ireland. Find "Festival Venues" nearest to you at greatirishbeverages.com and check for special offers in the online magazine thetaste.ie

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