I missed all the rí-rá agus ruaille-buaille of the first All-Ireland Craft Beerfest, held at the RDS last weekend. A shame because it was, by all accounts, a storming success. Big congratulations to the organisers and a hearty pat on the back to the Beoir volunteers who stepped up and helped out. Next year I will manage my calendar more carefully. (Details of what I did instead will feature in the coming weeks as I sift through my scrawly notes.)
Lots of specials and seasonals from the Irish breweries were on tap at the festival and I really hope I'll be able to find them elsewhere at some point. The first opportunity came yesterday, on the warmest afternoon of the year in Dublin, when I dropped in to the Bull & Castle for a quencher. Thankfully, Metalman have taken the unorthodox step of making a witbier their winter seasonal and it was on tap.
Alternator's pale and hazy shade of orange has me immediately thinking of German-style weissbier, but the aroma is definitely wit: lots of coriander leaping out of the glass. On first sip I found the texture a little thin and a bit gassy, but I can't really quibble about this since cold and fizzy was exactly what I was after. Thirst slaked, there was enough left to give the flavours a bit more considered analysis, and there's plenty to be analysed: big fresh and juicy jaffa oranges first, gently spiced around the edges with that coriander, some white pepper and a properly bitter, floral hop kick. Towards the end the weissbier vibe came back as clove notes started to make themselves felt.
Overall, a cut above most interpretations of the witbier style and perfect while the sun shines. Just the one keg in the Bull & Castle so get it while it's hot, er, outside.