The busy beery weekend kicked off on Friday evening in the Bull & Castle and a pint of O'Hara's Stout from the cask. From there I made my way out to Rathmines where Colin and Jonathan of CWI were running a tasting in Deveney's off licence of some new beers they've brought in.
SommerBrau is Gordon Biersch's summer Kölschalike, not a genre I particularly enjoyed when I tried Sierra Nevada's version, and I've not been in any rush to give Goose Island's a go. Biersch SommerBrau is fruitier than I expected, and with only a hint of grainy crispness at the end. Decent, inoffensive drinking. I'd imagine a six-pack would go great with a barbecue or similar sunny day activity, but that'll only really work in places where there's actual sunshine and the six-pack isn't costing €13. Places that aren't here, basically.
A much better proposition was Blonde Frog, by Blue Frog -- a company whose Red Frog and (now sadly discontinued) Big DIPA I've enjoyed in the past. Blonde Frog takes that full-bodied blonde ale base and injects it with a healthy dose of characterful American hops. 6.75% ABV in a 22oz bottle makes it one to be careful with, but it's well worth a bit of considered drinking.
Welcome return visits to Red Frog and Blue Frog IPA followed, which might be why I enjoyed the Butte Creek Pale Ale so much. Last time I tried it I was quite shocked by the intensity of its bitterness, but here I found it lovely and smooth and sherbety. I can only guess that the hoppy beers which preceded it helped knock the sharp edges off. Butte Creek IPA, however, tasted quite charmlessly bitter -- with a big vegetal harshness. But perhaps I'll become attuned to that eventually too. Odd things, hops.
Quite a few of the usual suspects had shown up by 7.30, so we decamped to the pub. More on that next.