Irish Beers to Watch Out For

Following on from Boak and Bailey's suggestion (I think) here's some of my favourite beers available from (Northern) Irish Brewers. Its not an exhaustive list,I've not tried everything and with new breweries coming online all the time the next gem could be just around the corner!*

Whilst the majority of these beers are available in bottled form, i think they taste better on draught (cask/ keg) with the exception of one. Some of these beers started off as seasonals and became regulars, I hope the others don't remain as one offs.

White Gypsy's sessionable Weiss (aka Blond), 4%, really impressed me out of keg at Hilden Beer Fest a few years ago. Proper German weisse banana esters on the nose, hazy, full bodied with handsome foamy white head and spicy wheat and clove esters mean it can hold its own against stronger German offerings. Its now a part of the core range; so may be easier to come by. 

Tiny Beoir Chorca (West Kerry) produces a fantastic porter in the shape of Carraig Dubh. I've had it on both cask and bottle and both are lovely. A complex and mouth-filling porter with smoke, chocolate, coffee red berries and a touch of roast barley in the finish. Just how I like my porters.Condition spot on too. This may be a little harder to track down but drinkstore.ie often has bottles.

Via Beermack (Alex)
A recent trip to Waterford for the Beoir AGM saw me drinking Metalman Sahara (6%) at the brewery. Its a modern take on a Vienna lager with the deep amber colour and toffee malts but the addition of sorachi ace creates subtle cheesecake/ custard creams flavours that build and interact with US hops to give tangerine pith and noble hop dry bitterness leading to a long finish. I could still taste it half an hour later.

Another modern take on a traditional style is Brown Paper Bag Project with Doxie a 5.6% wheat ale with magnum, amarillo and cascade, which was released for a blind Twitter tasting.
In bottle form it has an interesting Belgian ester saison character, despite being fermeneted with a neutral US ale yeast. This is apparently due to warm conditioning post bottling and doesn't appear in keg form. Immensely drinkable, with plenty of pithy hop character, try side by side to see the differences dispense method can make to a beer.

Trouble Brewing Dark Arts is another from the porter spectrum at the more robust end. Thick bodied with roasted coffee and chocolate notes. They're expanding which should hopefully mean this beer becomes more widely available.

Another beer which really stood out recently is JW Sweetman's Pale Ale. Out of the growler the carbonation had diminished somewhat allowing the dank hops leafy freshness to shine through with grapefruit balanced by shortcake malt making this marvellously refreshing and a real showcase of cascade.

Sneaking into export stout territory is Carlow's Leann Follain at 6% It brings aromatic pipe tobacco, chocolate and a touch of lactose on the nose, dry roast barley up front and finishing with chocolate malt  and caramel.

Whitewater Hoppelhammer smashed onto the Northern Ireland scene last Novemeber at Belfast beer festival and really impressed me (finally a Norn Iron beer with hops!) Plenty of citrus fruits, oranges and tangerines to the fore...could be simcoe. Doesn't matter what it is its a hop bomb and very moreish.

Via Chilli and Chocolate
Ards Ballyblack is another newish addition from the newest (until recently that is) Northern Irishbrewery.
Dark brown black with lively white head its a dry stout how they should be made. Chocolate, roast barley and a slight chalkiness and very easy to knock back by the pint when served at (the correct) cellar temperature.

Another of Whitewater's specials that seems to have survived to be brewed again is McHugh's 300. At only 3.5% and often kegged, you'd be forgiven for thinking this is justa bog standard lager substitute/ golden ale but you'd be wrong. Alongside the biscuit malt and clean hop aroma there's a pleasing level of bitterness and somegrapefruit flavours which I suspect just might be cascade. Perfect summer refresher.

Back to black again for College Green (Hilden) Molly's Chocolate Stout. Unlike some, this derviews all of its chocolate flavour from the malt. Definitely worth hunting for in cask (try Molly's Yard in Belfast) It pours an attractivegarnet-brown with hints of beech-smoke then rich roast barley on the nose. A giid robust body withplenty of burnt toast, coffee and rich fruits thatlovers of high cacao chocolate would lap up and certainly drinksmore than its 4.3% ABV would sugges.

Perhaps the longest established Belgian style beer in Ireland is Hilden Barney's Brew. It gives a cough candy spicey medicated aroma on the nose with plenty of the requisite corriander. However this from a wit when a peppery punch of ginger sneaks up on you unawares demanding you to take another gulp. Its difficult to say no. Its available right now all over the UK as part of Sainsbury's Great British Beer Hunt, though sounds like it may not be at its best by some accounts.

Also look out for Dungarvan's Coffee and Chocolate Stout if its released in bottle form again, white gypsy's weisse which I loved, Franciscan Well's Bell Ringer and Eight Degrees Cyclone/ Hurricane #IPAoff duo. These were not included in the main post as they're not regularly available and may even have been one offs.

*Looks like this couldn't be truer with at least 12 breweries due online in 12 months and a whole host of specials available at the recent ICBCF. I reckon I'll need to do a new beers post in 2014.

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