Oh no! Pete Brown wants us to write something for normal people, a piece on Beer Moment expressing the joy of beer in a way that ordinary, social, humans will understand. The trivial minutiae which concern the obsessive beer geek or ticker are not for this Session.
Well tough titty, Mr Brown, 'cos you know what my Beer Moment is? My "moment to savour, a moment of mateship, potential, fulfilment, anticipation, satisfaction, and sheer bliss"? Spotting a beer tap I don't recognise. Ha! Get it up ye! Score this one for the anoraks!
So recently I dropped in to Dublin's newest beer specialist (they crop up like weeds these days), The Brew Dock over by Connolly Station. There's a slightly New England-ish maritime feel to all the painted wood, though at least three centuries have passed since the site faced directly onto the waters of Dublin Bay. As one might expect for somewhere between the bus station and a railway terminus, it has never been the most classy or welcoming of venues. Fortunately the new owners have a proven record of turning such places around and it's well on its way to attracting tourists and the office crowd from the adjoining Financial Services Centre over the bus depot derelicts who haunted its former incarnations.
Said owners are the Cottage Group, and naturally enough The Brew Dock stocks beer from their own brewery: Galway Bay over in sunny Salthill. They've been twiddling the recipes of their three lately, but it looks like they may have finally settled, since experimental "Strange Brew" is gone, replaced by Full Sail Pale Ale.
I had to squint at the tap to notice the lettering had changed, but when I did: here comes the rush. A new beer! A new Irish beer! In recent years this has become less of a rare phenomenon than it used to be: the new wave of Irish breweries keep us plied with seasonals and special editions, and there are enough festivals and guest taps around the country to afford the opportunity to try them (the brewery's own annual festival kicks off in Salthill tomorrow, just FYI). But it's no less exciting for all that, and the prospect of a new full-time beer is an extra thrill.
Part of me feels I should end the post here. Because despite the joy of discovering a new beer and the warm afterglow of having ticked it off, Full Sail really isn't very good. It's a lightly-carbonated orange-amber affair and strikes early with a sharp, almost gastric, foretaste. This theme continues in the middle where there's just a touch of pithy fruit in amongst plenty of sharp waxy bitterness. And then it all just tails off. It leaves loads of room for some lip-smacking high-hop citrus flavours but they're entirely absent. Uncomplicated and sessionable is the plan, I suppose, but a pale ale like this really needs more late hops to be a success, in my estimation at least.
Lucky I got my money's worth before the first sip then, eh? That was the moment I savoured.
2013 update: A change of brewer has seen Full Sail reformulated into something which does really give you a proper bitter bang for your buck. Recommended.