With the first batch of bottles rushing off the shelves faster than they could be stocked and the entire first batches sold out within days I knew I needed to get hold of Boundary's new beers before it was too late. Luckily i managed to snaffle a few bottles of each via my usual purveyor of libations, The Vineyard. But before I let myself sample my illicit gains I thought I'd better call in on Matt at the Brewery...
|Matt and his new brewery!|
Calling the PortView trade centre home since February Boundary have been busy making Unit A5 ship shape and ready for action for most of that period. Simultaneously they begun brewing their first batches of beer, bottles from which I will be reviewing below. Arriving in to the brewery on a miserable Wednesday lunchtime I'm greeted by bright lights, gleaming steel and the sound of high pressure water circulating post caustic-rinse. Matt stands beaming and hirsute amongst his newly acquired equipment, "I've just taken samples of the beers, would you like to try them?" Not one to offend I of course jump at the opportunity to sample the three beers in the core range and not one but two collaboration specials with Galway Bay (both of the latter are to be barrel aged; but you'll need to wait for ABV fest to find out what they are!)
|Galway Bay collabs sleeping soundly in warm conditioning|
Matt shows me around the brewery, pointing out the freezer (essential for hop life), pest proofed grain store and conditioning room replete with barrels "I bought 20 but only 6 are for us, the rest are already accounted for". Of course there has been teething problems, for example some of the fermenters don't seal correctly and there was no way to recirculate the wort, but these have now been Heath-Robinsoned out. With all vessels currently filled there will soon be a need to buy more. There's plenty of space within the brewery but Matt has his sights set on the unit next door "Its still unoccupied and I could use a space for a barrel store..."
|Pallets of stock and the three label designs|
The first event was held in the brewery last Saturday, managing to squeeze 80 people in for a cheese and beer tasting. There's also an artist studio where the resident label designer has already been hard at work but will also be available for the local community to rent. Being a part of the community is very important for the team and is why the brewery was set up as a co-operative. This has of course ppaid dividends in the form of a market thirsty for their beers!
|The three "core" beers|
"So what of the beers?", I hear you ask, alright I'm getting to it! There are 3 in the core range an APA at 3.8 %, an IPA at 7% and rounded out by an export stout also at 7% ABV. They're all bottle conditioned too, which should please the real ale fans though Matt says he's had to bring forward plans to keg the beer as bottled product just doesn't get the exposure in pubs in Belfast.
I sampled the APA first, a sensible plan given the jump in ABV of the next two! Priced very fairly at £2.09 it certainly drinks as a session beer. peach tea and mango on nose. Decent level of body for its diminutive ABV, light carbonation, gentle bitterness, red berries and some biscuit. Very sessionable indeed and would sing on cask. If anything I'd prefer a 500ml bottle to really get to know it, ah well I'll have to make do with a second 330ml...
The IPA certainly seems related to the APA but with a different hop bill Matt assures me. Its pretty boisterous on the nose with a mess of yeast esters interfering with what is obviously an exiting aroma - a base note of orange bitters jus makes its through. Super pithy grapefruit peel with herbal sage and pine notes, heavy body, super bitter, a little sticky with a dry finish, its not boozy per say but doesn't have the cleanliness of Kernel or Beavertown. Not how I enjoy my IPAs but will probably have plenty of fans and certainly the highest perceived bitterness of any beer on the IRish market to my knowledge! (In fact it reminds me of some of the Evil Twin/ Mikkeller efforts brewed at De Proef.)
I finished things off with the Export Stout, which is much more up my street. Daisy tasted it too; she thought [that it] "smells metallic, coffee, marmite chocolate and peanut...mocha chocolatey coffee. Mouthfeel is good, quite bitter 'Steve will like it' really smooth but tongue filling bitterness, touch of sweetness, lots of dark coffee flavour, should be called espresso stout. Actually its not really marmitey and its less bitter when you return to it"
I picked up rich roast barley with chocolate coffee and a touch of mint on the nose. Its full bodied but smooth with light carbonation preventing it from becoming too heavy. Its roasty burnt toast with a touch of liquorice and quite brief in finishing with a touch of sweetness but not overly complex. It picked up a touch of burnt rasin/blackcurrant after allowing it to sit a while but overall Iid have liked a few more hops to balance the malt and provide some lift.
So whilst I thought all three beers were well brewed (and amazingly so given how new the setup is!) it was the APA that I really enjoyed and will certainly be drinking again. The Export Stout would make a good base to a black and tan (The mixed drink, not the uniform!) but the IPA in its current guise just isn't my thing. There are still bottles in local off-licences and pubs; so go and try them for yourselves!