23 September 2005


I could just as easily have made this blog about curry rather than beer, Indian food being my other great passion. Last night I was out in my local curry place and discovered they have a new house lager - Bollywood Beer. It's something of an enigma: the label claims it has its roots in Goa, yet is brewed in an unspecified part of the EU. The address on their web site is of a packaging firm in Bray, and the company is also registered at an address in Glasnevin, north Dublin. Very curious, and it makes me wonder what they have to hide. Anyway...

More importantly: the beer. Well, not surprisingly it is quite reminiscent of the standard curry beers, Kingfisher in particular. It is lightly sparkling with a hoppy bitterness. Very easy to drink and accompanies curry quite well. I have little doubt that the restaurant has made the switch because the margins are better on the new stuff, but at the same time I welcome a new brand onto the market, especially if it's a local one.

And with that I hear Oktoberfest calling and I'm off to Munich...

20 September 2005

HempBeer Fi

Several weeks ago, I mentioned the German hemp beer Turn, and how it didn't compare favourably with Hanf, by 7 Stern in Vienna. Well, the Porterhouse have produced a seasonal hemp beer, imaginatively titled "Hemp Beer" as part of their "Summer of Love" promotion which ran during July and August.

It's a rich, deep red colour, and the base of the taste seems to be Porterhouse Red, their excellent Irish ale. However, up front there is a massive, striking, bitter flavour of hemp in all its glory. It took a while to figure out what it tasted like, but eventually Mrs Beer Nut worked out that it was grapefruit, with all the inherent acid bitterness. Nevertheless, this isn't an unpleasant beer: it is quite possible to down more than a pint in one sitting. It's definitely interesting, though not a recipe likely to become anyone's regular tipple, unlike the version in 7 Stern. So, the Irish are still behind the Austrians on this particular beer front: big surprise there, eh?

18 September 2005

Bee careful

I didn't particularly enjoy my only previous experience with beer made from honey. It was several years ago, in the late lamented Dublin branch of Belgo, and the beer was from the Floris range. So I haven't been in a mad rush to try the English honey beer Waggle Dance, but I picked up a bottle in Cork recently just to give it a go. My suspicion was justified. Waggle Dance has very little by way of a honey taste, but contains bucketloads of hops. As a result it is very very dry and bitter, which is not what the term "honey beer" conjures up. It still seems to me that honey and beer do not mix well. Leave honey where it belongs: in mead.

12 September 2005

Up the Baltic

I've never been very good with numbers, which is something of a disadvantage when dealing with the produce from St. Petersburg's Baltika brewery. I have a recommendation to try Baltika 10, but I can never remember that number when I'm in the field. So, I thought I'd hit the jackpot in Cork last week, bringing home a bottle of Baltika 9, but was disappointed to discover, to paraphrase Obi Wan, it's not the one I'm looking for.

It's not bad, though. It's another strong lager (8%) slighltly flat, with a full, bold, beery taste. Certainly much better than the very plain Baltika lagers, 3 and 7. The quest for the elusive number 10 continues.

In the meantime, while in that part of the beer world, I chanced a taste of Švyturys Ekstra, from Lithuania. I wasn't impressed and I can't think of anything remarkable about this one. Like the Zywiec, it's something you buy in its native country where the price is negligible.

05 September 2005

Buy the drinks on my own lovely Lee

I'm back from a couple of days in Cork, where I paid a long-overdue visit to the Franciscan Well microbrewery along the river on North Mall. It's an odd, pokey little place that lacks some of the pizzazz of some other brewpubs around the place, but they're clearly proud of what they do. Their Shandon Stout is a first class dry porter with complex coffee-and-chocolate flavours: rich, but very easy to drink (presumably because it is competing with Murphy's -- a beer with similar qualities). Their Rebel Red ale was a little disappointing: watery and a touch bland, taking its lead from Smithwick's, I guess. The Rebel Lager is an enigmatic one. It hits you up front with an intense and not-very-pleasant sour note, but then calms down for a smooth finish. It's one for quaffing rather than sipping, I think. Much more palatable is the Blarney Blonde, which contains fewer surprises. It lacks a strong flavour, but still has hints of that crisp grainy-corny taste of a good microbrewed lager, despite being an ale. Lastly, they do a token weissbier: Friar Weisse. It's properly orange and cloudy, but a little lacking in the fruit flavour I would expect. I suspect overall that they are trying not to offend or surprise a conservative clientelle with their house beers and I would say the place really comes into its own when the Easter and Christmas beers are on tap.

Cork is also home to a great beer off-licence called the Abbot's Ale House on Devonshire Street. I took a few interesting things away from there, on which I will report in due course, but I began by continuing my investigation into the beers of Poland, with two from the Staropolskie brewery. The plain green label is pretty good: full and round with a tight creamy head, though without the fruitiness of Okocim, but once again it is the stronger mocne lager that excels. Staropolskie Mocne can stand proudly with the best of Bavaria's stronger brews. It reminded me of Spaten's Oktoberfest beer in particular: rich, smooth and delicious. Rarely has alcohol been used so well to enhance the flavour of a strong lager.