Sunday 4 December 2016

'There has never been a better time to enjoy quality of craft beers'

Liam Campbell

Published 17/04/2016 | 02:30

Craft beer.
Craft beer.
1) Imperial Stout 20th Anniversary Limited Edition
2) Barrel Aged Series Leann Folláin Irish Stout
3) The 1798 Limited Edition Double Extra Stout.
4) Lynch's Handcrafted Stout.
5) Traditional Irish Stout, O'Shea's 4.5pc.
6) Stormy Port Irish Porter, Galway Bay Brewery, Galway 5.5pc.

The growth in craft beers globally is undeniable. While the reasons vary amongst the different countries, there is one consistent fact: there has never been a better time to enjoy the diversity and quality of craft beers. The two most popular styles amongst craft brewers are Pale Ale/India Pale Ale (featured March 12) and Stout, which we're taste testing today.

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Porter is the ancestor of Stout. A blend of malted barley from dark roast to caramel malts, its popularity spans back over 200 years. Porter differs from Stout by its toffee and nutty aromas and more acidic refreshing palate. Porter is great with hearty, meaty stews.

Stout is generally a stronger style of Porter - the name is actually an abbreviation for stout (strong) porter. When Guinness changed its recipe from malted barley to roasted raw barley grain to avoid the heavy British taxes on malted barley, it gave an attractive astringent character. Adding more hops increased the bitterness. Other variations of oatmeal stout and milk stout have evolved since. Stout goes as brilliantly with oysters as it does with chocolate brownies.

Imperial Stout references its regal title to Catherine the Great, Czaress of Russia, who loved its potent alcohol richness and coffee, chocolate and hoppy bitterness. It's excellent as a partner with a strong cheddar.

1) Imperial Stout 20th Anniversary Limited Edition, O'Hara's Brewery, Co Carlow 10pc

Rich roast aromas and flavours. Concentrated and robust yet mellow with a gentle bitterness.

€5.75/375ml at O'Brien's and independent off-licences nationwide.

2) Barrel Aged Series Leann Folláin Irish Stout, Matured in Irish Whiskey Barrels, O'Hara's Brewery, Co Carlow 8.1pc

Rich and full-bodied with a caramel and peppery spice from the whiskey barrels and a lingering caramel finish.

€12.99/75cl at independent off-licences and SuperValu nationwide.

3) The 1798 Limited Edition Double Extra Stout, Guinness 9pc

Intense and silky smooth texture. Lovely dark fruity notes of black pastille and a delicate hop bitterness.

€20 at The Loop, Dublin Airport and Cork Airport.

4) Lynch's Handcrafted Stout, Cotton Ball Brewing Company, Cork 4.3pc

Wild garden herbal notes underpinning a lively and refreshing summer stout.

€3.99/500ml at Bradley's, Cork and select SuperValu, Spar and independent off-licences nationwide.

5) Traditional Irish Stout, O'Shea's 4.5pc

Malty aromas are mirrored on the palate with the addition of attractive balancing bitter chocolate.

€1.89/50cl at Aldi nationwide.

6) Stormy Port Irish Porter, Galway Bay Brewery, Galway 5.5pc

Concentrated chocolatey and malty flavours with contrasting bitterness. A very mellow and smooth finish.

€3.29 500ml at McHugh's and Molloy's Dublin citywide and O'Brien's, SuperValu and Centra nationwide.

Tasting notes

Dine in sparkling style at Dublin's Marker Hotel in partnership with Bollinger Champagne at a special five-course tasting dinner designed around Champagne on Tuesday, April 19, at 7pm. Head Chef Gareth Mullins will be joined by Bollinger's Sommelier Bastien Mariani to advise on food pairings and Champagne. 

BOOK: €85 per person, email bookyourtable@themarker.ie or call (01) 687-5104.

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