In between bottling three batches of beer and brewing another, as well as giving my regular lecture at The Beer Club, I managed to fit in a fair bit of pub time over the long weekend. In a life consumed by beer it's important not to lose sight of the important things, dontcherknow. As I mentioned at the time, it was national Farmhouse Cheese and Craft Beer weekend so of course I nipped in to the Bull & Castle to give their tasting platter a go. Wherever Geoff had been buying his Cooleeney it was far superior to the one from my tasting, with none of the waxy harshness. The match with Buckley's hop-forward golden ale was excellent, and the Hegarty's cheddar fitted wonderfully with all four beers, though in different ways.
Before heading off I snaffled a bottle of Rothaus Tannenzäpfle, on special offer at the moment. This is another pils from the cult Black Forest brewery, robust at 5.1% ABV and heavily laden with the nettley German hop flavour I usually struggle with. Here, however, there's just enough of a malt profile to hold it in check, keeping both the beer and this drinker appropriately sweet. Enjoyable in small doses, but 33cl was enough for me. (Edit: I'm reliably informed by Barry in the comments that this is the same beer as the Pils, reviewed here.)
Down the hill in Temple Bar I dropped in to Farrington's, a hitherto quite plain and unremarkable Dublin boozer (formerly The Norseman, to any ex-pat Dubs who don't know where I'm talking about -- they used to have really nice runic lettering on the sign). Farrington's has, for want of a better term, gone craft. The usual macro keg fonts still line the two sides of the bar, but they're interspliced with those from Galway Hooker, Carlow Brewing, Metalman and the like. There's also an extensive bottled range -- local and import -- at least according to the blackboards.
Our hosts also had a bottle of Tactical Nuclear Penguin on the go. It still tastes like cheap sherry mixed with lighter fuel. Nice name; shame about the beer.
Onwards across the Liffey and upstream, to dinner and the antipodean delight of a pie floater at L. Mulligan. Grocer. The main draw here was a one-off cask of Trouble Brewing Pumpkin Ór. As far as I know this is Ireland's first and only pumpkin beer, and a one-off cask at that, pending a larger batch next year. It could have stood to be a degree or two cooler on serving, especially since the pub was heaving in the run-up to the Sunday night quiz, but it was still nicely smooth and perfectly drinkable. There's no fruit as such -- there rarely is with pumpkin beer in my experience -- but the blend of spices works beautifully, adding gentle warming cinnamon notes and a background hint of almond. I reckon solid, simple Ór makes quite a good base for throwing in interesting ingredients and I definitely look forward to seeing this spiced pumpkin version more widespread next year.
Irish homebrewers who fancy mucking about with their own interesting beer ingredients may be interested in entering Trouble's Trouble Maker competition. This time round they've asked specifically for unusual recipes. Reinheitsgebotniks need not apply.
A weekend well-spent there, I think. Hurrah for pubs!