I confess I have a soft spot for the whole topical seasonal beer thing they have in Britain. For every major sporting event there'll be a slew of thematic one-offs in the pub. And yes they're often indistinguishable from the brewery's bog-standard 1.038 brown bitter, and yes the pumpclips are too often aesthetic atrocities, but it's the idea I like: the limited-time-only special-event beer. When done well it brings a certain shared-experience camaraderie to pub-going.
It's not something that usually happens here so I was delighted to see Eight Degrees taking a leaf out of our neighbours' book and putting the tortuously-titled Trapattoni Potation on tap at The Brew Dock, The Black Sheep and Against The Grain for the Euros. And yes, just like across the water it's not a million miles from one of their regular beers: it's a pale and sharply-hopped keg ale very very much like Howling Gale, but it's the thought that counts, and if it shifts a few extra pints for them during the matches then its job is done. I'd like to see other breweries follow suit.
Elbow Lane, Cork's newest brewing company. (I'm shying away from the term "brewery" because they've been very cagey about saying where these are actually produced -- only that it's contract brewed somewhere in Cork.) Angel Stout is the name of the beer, and the management kindly sent a preview bottle my way a few weeks ago.
It's a massively full-bodied beast, tasting far above its 5.1% ABV tag and heading into O'Hara's Leann Folláin territory. There's bags of caramel and a little bit of a molasses tang. Behind this are the heavy, almost slick and greasy, esters I've come to associate from my homebrew dabbling with S-04 yeast. The tang just turns a little bit sweet and smoky, like pipesmoke, at the end. Elbow Lane are pitching for the beer-with-food angle in a big way but this one, I reckon, is a beer for after dinner.
More releases from Elbow Lane are anticipated, and I'm also very keen to get my hands on the two new beers from Clanconnel, in what looks to be some very smart new livery. Meanwhile the beers from Donegal's Kinnegar Brewing are starting to make an appearance outside their home territory as well. It's all go over here right now.