There was quite a turnout on Friday evening for the second beer tasting evening run by Deveney's off licence in Dundrum. Ruth did a great job keeping the punters' glasses filled, and in the correct sequence too.
The theme was Belgian, and there were a few in the line-up I'd never had. Vedett Extra White, for instance. Though I'm not a fan of Vedett lager, I thought this worked quite well, and had a hoppy bite you generally won't find in a witbier. It's a tasty alternative to Hoegaarden, even if not quite up to the standard of St Bernardus Wit in my estimation.
I was also quite impressed with Chapeau Kriek -- a wonderfully aromatic and easy-drinking cherry beer which put me in mind of Bellvue Kriek, an old favourite now gone from the Irish market. I can see myself getting a few of these in for al fresco drinking as the longer evenings arrive.
Find of the evening, however, was another of those oh-so-fashionable hoppy Belgian blondes: Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor. Unlike most of the others I've tried, this has a really crisp, green, fresh hop character sitting on a very typical blonde Belgian ale which is not a million miles from the likes of La Chouffe. Remarkably, the hops aren't crushed under the sharp bitterness of the Belgian yeast. Ruth had some LeFebvre Hopus -- another of this style -- lying around, a beer which I tried recently but hadn't yet got around to posting about. I was interested to try them side by side to see if the Hopsinjoor really is hoppier than the opposition.
Hopus gives off an innocent and sweet tropical fruit aroma: mangos, melons and the like. There's quite a bit of head, which settles stiffly after a few minutes. The fruity aroma is complemented by that sharp yeasty character once the lees are poured in. The bitterness in the flavour -- and there's a lot of it -- is probably half-and-half from the yeast and the hops. It's peppery and tangy, unlike the raw vegetal Hopsinjoor, and the 8.3% ABV gives it a very pleasant overall warmth.
The bottom line is, I guess, if you want your hopped-up blonde to taste of actual real hops, the Hopsinjoor is the one to go for. However, if you'd like them to contribute to a more complex overall fruitiness, then Hopus is your only man. As a person of simple tastes, I think I'd go for the former, but that's not to say Hopus isn't a great beer.
Thanks to Ruth for her hospitality again, and it was great meeting Lisa of What We Eat as well. I'm heartened by the interest in quality beer being shown by the upstanding citizens of Dundrum. Long may it continue.
And if you're in the area, don't forget to drop in to Deveney's to pick up a bottle or two of something interesting.