So good, so good, so good! (Sorry, got carried away in a football frenzy there)
Following a random Instagram post by a local bar before the summer, my interest was piqued by a new Belfast brewery whose wares could be on shelves soon.
Very frustratingly, little information was forthcoming from any quarter until Paul and Aaron, the two guys behind Norn Iron Brew Co, gave a talk and tasting session at the recent superb ABV Beer Festival in Belfast.
Claiming to be “Belgian-inspired rather than focusing on the usual NI blandness”, a trio of beers was on offer starting with Granite, a whopping 8.8% ABV rye beer. Paul from Norn Iron Brew claimed it was like “licking a piece of Mourne granite”, hence the label design. Hmm, not sure about that but it certainly wasn’t what I expected from a rye – creamier and sweeter than the norm with touches of lavender and aniseed coming through. In fact I didn’t get much rye at all which was a slight disappointment, maybe if the alcohol content was dialled back a notch that might allow the rye to become more prominent.
Next came Botanical, a Belgian dubbel, also supposedly weighing in at 8.8% ABV according to the Belfast Botanic gardens palm house label. Paul mentioned this used the same yeast strand as the rye beer and it showed. There was a similar sweetness, maybe edging towards a banana bubblegum effect, but for me it could well have been poured from the rye bottle. There wasn’t enough of a taste gap to conclusively differentiate between the two.
Finally came Temple, a 10% ABV porter with the North Coast’s magnificent Mussenden Temple imprinted on the label. I claim this to be my preference of the three with a salty, treacle edge to it. However, despite the saltiness, the porter is smooth and one which I could have enjoyed more of.
So a mixed bag from Norn Iron Brew Co. As of mid-September the beers aren’t yet available to buy as they haven’t acquired a license to supply bars and off licenses. They’re also looking for larger premises from what I think I heard at the back of the ABV tasting room (which was noisy) so forgive me for not giving loads of details.
When they come out, have a wee juke as we say in Norn Iron.