There's been a bit of a revamp over at the Bay Brewery, based at the Oslo brewpub in Galway. The makeover sees the name changed to "Galway Bay Brewery" and the dropping of their (pretty decent, IMO) amber lager. The so-so red ale is staying and there are two new additions to the range. I caught up with them in the brewery's Dublin tied house Against The Grain recently.
Stormy Port first, a porter. The lack of nitrogenation was a pleasant surprise, and I think it really helps the flavours shine. Well, flavour, singular: Stormy Port is a grade-A chocolate bomb with bucketloads of sweet candy and not a whole lot else. It's served far too cold and the thin fizzy body doesn't allow the chocolate have any warming or filling properties, unfortunately.
To the best of my knowledge, the house yeast at Galway Bay is Danstar Nottingham, a neutral strain, and this may well be the reason this beer is so one-dimensional. Mr Billings opined that a more interesting estery ale yeast might help give it a little more depth and complexity. In the meantime, I'm happy to drink it, as long as it's left to warm up a little. You can't have too many porters, say I.
The second beer is similarly cold and kegged. It goes by the disquieting name of Strange Brew -- when a brewer chooses to label a beer so it's time to worry. I don't remember seeing a style designation on the tap badge, but I've heard second-hand that they're calling it an IPA. From the amber body there's no aroma to speak of and the flavour is very much malt-driven: slightly sticky, with a small hop bang at the end but loads of carbonic bite. All-in-all it's quite inoffensive, reminding me lots of several passable, forgettable, English bitters I've had, only without the smoothness and flavour subtleties that cask-conditioning provides. Served from Against The Grain's beer engine, this could be really interesting. And, of course, it never hurts to do a bit of dry-hopping as well.
No doubt these first editions of the beers will be subject to change as the brewer tweaks the recipes. There's a lot of promise here and it would be great to see Galway Bay pulling out something really original, though the standard in Ireland is quite high at the moment.
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