The bottle of Irresistable Premium Ale from Chichester's Natural Brewing Company came from a random shelf-sweep in Sainsbury's. There was very little of interest and I took this just because I'd no idea what it was. With the rather drab labelling I wasn't expecting much from it
Following a sniff and a sip I was struck by a descriptor which suits it perfectly but is probably damn all use to the rest of you: this beer is beery. I think my concept of beeriness goes back to very youthful experiences of things like Bass and Smithwick's, most probably from cans. Like cigarette smoke, it's a very grown-up taste and smell, and is obviously lodged somewhere deep in my consciousness. I'll try and unpack it using my own grown-up beer vocabulary.
Beeriness is very close to skunkiness -- it's a pungent hops thing, though hops of the earthy, funky, and rather dry variety, rather than the zingy fruitsome sort. But there's also a light caramel malt thing going on too, a sweetness that I'm putting down to crystal malt -- the driving force in much late-20th-century Irish ale. And then there's a mild mineral undercurrent as well, perhaps related to the famous sulphurous Burton vibe, but a lot less pronounced. Put these together and you have something that tastes and smells like beer. It's quite rare, in beer.
Dark gold Irresistable adds honey-ish herbal notes to this -- that sort of dry waxy honey flavour with an overlay of tannins which you get in bitter like Timothy Taylor's (and in a much bigger way in Landlord). It's softly carbonated and has a satisfyingly chunky body, with 4.3% ABV. All together this makes it a marvellously drinkable beer -- understated yet complex; light but filling. A real pleasant surprise.
On an unrelated note, as Barry mentioned on Saturday, we've just taken the first step in setting up a beer drinkers' union for Ireland. You can read more about Beoir and its first baby steps here. And if you have a serious interest in helping ramp up Ireland's craft beer revolution, then give us a tenner and jump on board.