If you’re pondering what quality brews to drink while giving it dixie around the 11th night bonfire (let’s be honest, if you haven’t bought your 48 pack of Harp by now, they’ll all be gone) or maybe thinking about having some top beer at home while avoiding those pesky Twelfth marchers, here’s a quick round up of some local Northern Irish beers I picked up in the past few days.
In true Twelfth style, let’s start with the colour orange and Boundary Brewing Co-op’s first gose. (Not to be kerfuddled with the Belgian lambic-style gueuze, gose is a German sour beer.) Bloody Chancer‘s label states it’s 5.6% ABV and brewed with blood oranges and lime juice. Yup, that juice box is well and truly ticked. This looks like a glass of pure orange, but of course being a sour it’s a lot sharper. If your experience of having a blood orange beer involves something like Beavertown’s Bloody ‘Ell, this is nothing like it. It’s better. Better in a way in that you can actually taste the orange juice – there’s no scrimping of blood oranges here. Then add to that the lime which cuts through the orange juiciness superbly and you have a proper fruity, face-puckering sour.
One of my favourite Northern Irish beers of last year was Farmageddon’s Gorse IPA and it was with great anticipation I acquired myself a newly rebranded can of the 6.4% ABV 2018 version. Into the glass you go boy, this should be good.
However all was not well – there was the expected and fantastic light and flowery gorse aroma wafting up my nose but after the first few sips I became aware of the dreaded diacetyl-butter flavour. Like the trooper I am and so looking forward to the Farm’s Gorse I was, I battled on but eventually conceded defeat halfway down the glass. It went down as well as a Tyrone gaelic football top in the middle of a Shankill Road parade. Woe is me!
Bullhouse Brewery from near Newtownards released a 6.0% ABV Bière de Garde, called Bière de Greengraves (named after the brewery’s address). A lovely sparkling golden colour in the glass and with a distinguished and tasty Northern French/Belgian breadiness about it (is that even a proper description?), I’m not afraid to admit I know little about this style, but think of a maltier saison with the merest hint of black pepper.
To my knowledge, Northern Ireland’s only other bière de garde in recent years was the Pokertree/Inishmacsaint collaboration of 2015 (I’m happy to be informed otherwise) so it’s good to see Bullhouse brewing something left of centre for the local market.
Also from Bullhouse comes Jus, a self proclaimed juicy IPA and the first of its Innovate or Die series. Good title there. Coming in at 6.5% ABV this is, uh… (quick, think of another word for fruity) um, … fruity. Passion fruit to be more precise but there’s also a good weight of piney bitterness in there. A bit like any relationship I suppose, lots of passion to start with bitterness following 😉
Jus isn’t the massive J bomb like Whiplash’s Saturate, but that’s a good thing if you’re wanting a beer that’s in some way resembling a beer rather than an alcoholic J2O. A word of congrats on the new style of branding for the bottle and can – easy on the eye and gives the customer plenty of information about hops, malt, yeast etc used. More and more breweries are doing this now, it’s good to see.
Finally to the Port, or Portrush if you’re not from County Antrim (sham) and Lacada’s Beautopian Stout, a result of the north coast co-operative pouring its 8% Utopian stout into an Irish whiskey barrel, leaving it there for six months, then bottling and leaving it again for a further six months. A waxed seal and neck tag accompany Beautopian for good measure, just in case you’re in any doubt about it being one of the brewery’s special beers.
Once it’s in the glass, there’s a faint coffee aroma and on first sip it seems thinner than the original Utopian – I had a Utopian prior to Beautopian so I could properly compare the two. Coffee, check. Chocolate, check. Whiskey? Check, but understated. This isn’t going to blow your head off if you’re not a whiskey lover (which I am). 10.2%? Che… Whaaaa? Yup, apparently it is but really doesn’t seem like it. Like, really. The ABV seems to be lost in among the forefront choc/coffee and then the background dark fruit, raisin, vanilla and maybe even some cinnamon. A tasty double digit ABV stout that perhaps could have had more body to it but grab a few bottles while you can.
Whatever you’re up to over the crazy season, have a good one. 🙂