Deveney's off licence in downtown Dundrum has set up a regular series of themed beer tastings -- a laudable effort at broadening the horizons of south Dublin's beer drinking public. I went along to the first one on Friday, just to give some support, of course, and nothing at all to do with the free beer. My fellow ICBeebie Ken lives nearby, so I dropped in on him beforehand to sample a very tasty pale ale he had cornied in his shed (Ken's brewery goes by the name of Badger's Arse, and you can see him impressing Oz and James with his coffee stout here).
When we eventually got to Deveney's, Ruth had queued up her samples -- from J.W. Dundee, Goose Island, Speakeasy, and Sierra Nevada: the USA being the evening's theme. We offered constructive criticism on the order of tastings and then got to talking beer and the specialist beer market in general. She said that the importer who dropped off Samuel Adams Triple Bock told her not to open it as it would scare the punters. I'd noticed it around before, in its sleek non-descript nip bottle with the outrageous €9.99 price tag, and reckoned it wasn't worth satisfying my curiosity. The Samuel Adams range are a mixed bag -- for every classic there's at least one stinker, in my experience. €9.99 is just too much of a gamble for that brand. But with minimal goading, Ruth agreed to pop one open for us.
Mind blowing, is the operative term. This totally flat, super-thick 17.5% ABV beer is a walking tour of dark ale flavours, with a fully live and interactive cast of characters. We start at chocolate: heavy, bitter, 80%+ cocoa, dark chocolate. From there we pass through rich coffee and maple syrup (an actual ingredient) into fresh liquorice, tawny port, fine cigars, and back to steaming hot chocolate puddings. The whole experience put me in mind of the Lost Abbey Angel's Share I had at the Great British Beer Festival, except instead of coming from a cask in a different country available for a couple of days last year, this came from an off licence a few minutes' bike ride from my house. Magnificent, and worth every cent being asked. Ken agreed, and Ruth had two sales on her hands immediately.
The bonus is that the teeny blue glass bottle has a cork. One sip goes an astonishingly long way with this, and after a small post-prandial glass it can be put back in the cupboard, like any good digestif.
This is just the sort of beer we almost never see in Ireland. Get your hands on it now.
Finally, thanks Ruth and thanks Ken for the beer and a fun evening. If you're at all local to Deveney's, be sure and sign up to their mailing list via firstname.lastname@example.org. If the tastings go on like they started it'll be well worth your while.