Northern Ireland

Last Christmas

Happy New Year people. I hope you get to try plenty of cracking beers in 2020 and don’t be shy in letting me know what they are when you have them.

There’s been a lot of anticipation for the new Whiplash beers following the completion of the brewery’s new building in Dublin. One of the last beers brewed before the move was Six Million Ways, a 6.6% ABV New England style IPA in collaboration with Gipsy Hill in London. Thanks to Erol for giving it a police escort from Carlow to Belfast! 🙂

It looks like eggnog. Well, it was Christmas when I had it. It’s thick and creamy and there’s a big whiff of grapefruit bouncing out of the glass. Put it to your lips and it’s packed full of tangy grapefruit juice with a touch of sweet pineapple. Maybe some passion fruit and blood orange in there too? And it’s got a little onion and garlic hop oil burning the back of my throat. That means this isn’t the full on fruit bomb that may appeal to many but it appealed to me.

An early contender for title of the year goes to Stout’s Out! by Bullhouse. It even has the subtitle ‘All Kegs Will Be Tapped’ – genius. If you’re not from Northern Ireland you may not get the hilarity of it all. Thankfully there’s no grass qualities about this stout, ahem sorry, which I first had just before Christmas at the brewery’s new taproom venue at Vault Artist Studios off the Newtownards Road in Belfast.

Then, the 10% ABV taster came compliments of Steve but I grabbed a can recently to savour the full 440ml experience. There’s a big initial smack of liquorice and then settles down to let you enjoy the sweet creaminess. Yep, there’s lactose in it but who cares? The liquorice is always to the fore but there’s plenty of chocolate to back it up – a hybrid of dark and milk chocolate. After a while I get a hint of blackberry and there’s a very distant spiciness, reminiscent of a peaty whisky. Ah hold on, how could this get any better…? I’ll let you work it out. It’s absolutely delicious as it is – for now.

From Holywood, Modest Brewing hit the ground running in November with the first release of a pale ale and next in line is a 4.5% ABV Pilsner Style beer.

I’m not sure what the difference is between pilsner and pilsner-style. It’s not like a kolsch (which has a protected geographical indication in the EU) where you can only use the word if it’s brewed in Cologne and say kolsch-style if brewed elsewhere. Anyway, thanks to brewer Chris for shouting me a couple of cans.

Although it looks a touch darker than expected, it definitely tastes like a German-style pilsner with bucketloads of earthiness and a bit of black pepper spice thrown in at the end. What I enjoy most about a good pils is its simplicity and this is simply tasty.

Elatha from Portrush’s Lacada Brewery was their 750ml Christmas offering for 2019, being a 9.5% ABV stout. Elatha comes from the name of a king in Irish mythology – every day’s a learning day, eh?

Gold wax-topped and with a beautiful purple and gold label, this sharing stout is decadent and full of deep and heavy Christmas pudding. It’s slightly raisiny, full on malty, with a sneak of coffee and a bucketload of darkness. I believe in a thing called Elatha. Thanks to Kris at Kiwi’s Bar in Portrush for the bottle and congrats on fatherhood!

Only a small snapshot there of the around-Christmas beers, I really do need to be on top of this blogging melarky a bit more.