25 October 2012

A measure of excellence

I spotted a neat little addition to the offer at Against the Grain the other week. The pub's place as the premier source for exotic draught beers in Dublin remains unequalled in my view. Of course the downside of this is the prices that tend to get attached to such strange and rare creatures. The £10 pint of Odells IPA I nearly-but-didn't buy in London early this year remains a high point, but Dublin can sometimes be not far off the mark when it comes to these things. And there, on the row of taps in AtG were Flying Dog's Raging Bitch (a favourite) and Wildeman (never tasted). Thankfully the pub is always up front about its pricing (other establishments take note!) and a glace at the blackboard was all I needed to find out whether this tick was going to be worth my while. And there I saw something which surprised and delighted me: rather than try and force these into pint (too dear) or half (too small) measures, they're selling it as standard in a 375ml glass for €4.50. One of each, barkeep, please. At nearly €7 for a pint I probably wouldn't have bothered.

I'm sorry I don't have a picture of the glass, we had just dropped in on the way home from dinner and I was without appropriate image capture apparatus, but they're lovely little stemmed thistle things which show off the beer really well. So... Wildeman then. It's described as a "Farmhouse IPA" and named after the legendary Amsterdam pub. There's definitely a big Belgian influence here, with the 7.5% ABV making itself felt in a boozy fruity kind of way. Like in Raging Bitch, this melds quite beautifully with the juicy peachiness from the American hops. The big difference comes with the triple whammy of dryness: the grassy rye gives it a fairly arid base to start off with, then the saison yeast has done its best to clear out any residual sugars. Finally there's a big carbonic bite from the incredibly busy fizz, putting yet more of an edge on it.

I imagine (though am probably totally wrong) that Duvel Tripel Hop tastes something along these lines: that mix of tartness and fizz coupled with fresh hop zest. It's definitely one to take slowly. Comparisons with Raging Bitch were interesting: while that's all smooth and rounded, Wildeman offers a raw, high-impact pith buzz. I wouldn't have wanted a pint of either, but they were perfect as postprandial sharpeners.

I'm looking forward to more odd specialities like this at Against the Grain.

And while we're in the pub, don't forget that today sees the start of the second Bord Bia Farmhouse Cheese and Craft Beer Weekend, running through to Bank Holiday Monday. The full listing of cheesy-beery  goings-on around the country can be found here.

8 comments:

  1. Ooh hope the Raging Bitch is still on draught when I arrive in town on Saturday ... at €4.50 it's pretty comparable to off-licence bottle prices for about the same volume, so a pretty good deal really!

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    1. Well, Raging Bitch is a mere €3.60 in DrinkStore, but still quite a modest mark-up indeed.

      So where's on your must-go hitlist for Saturday?

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  2. Saturday: Black Sheep, ATG, Porterhouse, B&C, maybe Palace, Farrigdons (as haven't been to those two before). Oh also ji-biiru in one of the Yamamori branches. I like the one on the N side of the river for dining, but I'd like to visit the Izakaya too now they've taken over the Oriental Cafe building.

    Sunday: Ginger Man, Probus, Ely (as going to a gig by the quays) - will see what else I have time for.

    And whatever else I can fit in here and there!

    Probably no time on this brief trip to get out to Stoneybatter or to WJ Kavanagh though.

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    1. That's fairly thorough! If The Palace is full, head up to Brewery Lane above Merchant's Arch (entrance via the passage between Temple Bar Square and Wellington Quay). Bit spendy, but a great range and a wonderful bar room. Opens at 4, I think.

      If you're getting a 16 bus back to the airport, WJK is on the way.

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  3. WJK is only a 10 minute walk or so from O'Connell Street, well from the Parnell street junction anyway.

    TBN I'm jealous. Those are rare finds on tap, especially in Dublin.
    Do you know if the northside equivalents have them? I might pop in to brewdock tomorrow if I get time. I'm going to a charity Halloween thing down by the IFSC. I'm dressing up as Jack Torrance in The Shining. Herself will be Wendy.

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    1. They deffo weren't in Brew Dock on Monday last. Three Sierra Nevada taps are the compensation. They've also put on a second handpump though it was dry when I went in. Not been to The Black Sheep in ages, but I get the impression that this sort of thing gets sent to Against the Grain as the priority.

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  4. The Bloody Tan10:19 a.m.

    And for those who can't make it up to Dublin there's always the Franciscan Well October Beer Fest as an excellent diversion from the bank holiday weekend of Cork Jazz Festival.

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    1. Don't forget the cheese! Beer, cider and cheese tastings in Midleton and Bandon.

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