Most of the independent Irish breweries were represented at the long festival bar, with a mix of regular and seasonal beers. I was along on Thursday, Friday and Sunday with my hit-list, as well as to represent Beoir and talk to punters about Irish brewing history whether they wanted to learn about it or not.
First and foremost we had the welcome return of Porterhouse Chocolate Truffle Stout after a two-year absence. And it's in superb form: bursting at the seams with smooth real chocolate sweetness, tempered by just the right level of dry stoutiness. I'll be having plenty more of this before it runs out, and earnestly hoping we won't have to wait as long for it again.
Other familiar favourites included the all-too-rare cask editions of O'Hara's Leann Folláin and Curim Gold, plus the dark amber hop epic that is Messrs Maguire American Pale Ale. The latter was badged anonymously as "Seasonal Special", which hopefully kept the riff-raff away from it and ensured it was available all weekend.
MM APA's moment in the sun is fading, I believe, and they also had its replacement lined up: the new version of Messrs Maguire Porter is a decent and quite dry effort, but not terribly exciting. It probably warrants some closer analysis when it eventually shows up in its home pub.
The hosts made much fuss about their new ale, billed as a "dark IPA" and named, following a public competition, "Perfect Storm". This is an experimental blend of Leann Folláin and O'Hara's IPA (how very Mikkeller!) and it's a battle that the stout is winning: a big sweet chocolate hit dominates the taste with only a mild fruitiness backing it up. For the next iteration I'd suggest seriously ramping up the IPA levels in the blend, and then dry-hopping in the cask (but I would say that).
It was great to see Hilden's Twisted Hop making one of its first appearances south of the border -- it was also on at The Black Sheep where I snapped its picture on Friday night. This pale ale started out as a special but has become a regular, the way good specials often do. It's a golden-coloured pale 'n' 'oppy affair, offering a light white pepper piquancy rather than a full-on alpha-acid burn, as well as some gentle peachiness in both the aroma and flavour. Very sessionable, all-in-all, and I hope we'll be seeing more of it.
|Warning: may start spraffing |
about Manders Brewery
And the festival calendar rolls on, with little over a fortnight to the Easter festival at the Franciscan Well. If you're planning a visit to Ireland this spring, it'll be worth your while to fit that one in. No-one will even try to talk brewing history to you.