The final review of the beers that I managed to try whilst in Ireland at the start of July this year, this one is an American IPA from the Rye River Brewing Company based in County Kildare, although the original version of this beer was initially brewed at Thomas Hardy based in England before they merged and where disbanded by Greene King. I picked this one up in Enniskillen in the north of Ireland on my last full day in the country after realising it was an American IPA with a slightly higher than average strength than the norm for Irish beers, drinking it later the same night. It’s was my first beer from the Rye River brewery and it was a fairly average start so in hindsight I’m not all that bother about missing the opportunity to pick up a couple of other beers from the brewery that the shop had available.
Appearance (3/5): Medium copper in colour with a thin, white head on top that’s more of a soapy lacing than anything else. The head was quite patchy and the beer was a clear bodied one that looks fairly still sitting in the glass with no visible signs of carbnonation showing.
Aroma (6/10): A fairly sweet beer on the nose with some toffee and caramel malts coming through early on, there was some biscuit notes in there too and a faint bitterness after that. There wasn’t much of a hop aroma to be honest, certainly there was less showing than would be expected from an American style IPA but some hints of pine and citrus did come through in areas, neither was particularly pronounced though.
Taste (6/10): Slightly sweet tasting to begin with, the beer has some caramel from the nose showing with some further bitterness thrown in for good measure. There was some background sugars coupled with some toffee malts and a background floral taste that could have used being slightly stronger. Other than that, there wasn’t a whole lot to this offering and it seemed quite weak in places, definitely drinkable but nowhere near as strong as I’d have liked.
Palate (3/5): Sticky sweet with quite a light, thin body that was softly carbonated and featured a tiny bit of spice towards the end. The balance wasn’t too bad with a lingering bitter finish but nothing was particularly strong and that let the beer down some.
Overall (12/20): This one was somewhat of a disappointment really, I had been expecting more of a hop-filled taste with plenty of bitterness but it came through as quite a sweet and malty IPA that was definitely more English than American in style despite the higher than usual IPA for such a beer. There was some bitterness in places and the background fruits and hops seemed enjoyable enough but overall the beer was too basic and weak really, there was definitely some room for improvement with this one.
Brewed In: Kilcock, County Kildare, Ireland
Brewery: Rye River Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2013
Type: American IPA
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Winemart (Enniskillen)
Amazingly only my second every beer from Ballast Point now and my first since reviewing their Calico Amber Ale all the way back in November 2011, almost four years ago. This is a bottle that I grabbed whilst in London towards the end of June after spotting it, along with a couple other Ballast Point beers in the BottleDog shop from Brewdog although this was the only beer from the brewery that I picked up that day sadly. The beer is a strong one that comes in at 10% abv. along with 90 IBU’s so I’m expecting quite a hoppy, bitter one with lots of flavour. This one was first brewed back in 2003 as a brewpub, darft only offering but has since been promoted to a year round offering that has won numerous awards over the years, including Gold medals at the 2004, 2005 and 2009 LA County Fair as well as silver at the 2007 California state fair and a bronze at the World Beer Cup in 2006 along with quite a few other awards.
Appearance (4/5): Pouring a bright and fairly clear looking amber to orange colour with some bubbles rising to the surface and a thin, half centimetre tall head on top that’s white and covers the surface before halving in size over the first few minutes.
Aroma (9/10): Tropical fruits and plenty of sweet caramel malts kick things off here, the a nice balance between the two with some subtle alcohol notes coming through early on as well. I could detect a lot of sweetness mixed in with some strong citrus, quite a juicy aroma with some mango and apricot as well as a few further background fruits that seems to blend into one. It’s a strong beer on the nose but is inviting with nothing overpowering about it.
Taste (8/10): Much like the nose, the taste starts off with some big tropical fruit flavours that includes but isn’t limited to some grapefruit, mango and apricot with some strong pine flavours in particular showing through. It’s a strong-tasting beer with some alcohol coming through alongside quite a lot of sweetness from some caramel flavoured sweet malts and a tonne of bitterness from a strong resinous pine taste.
Palate (5/5): Incredibly hoppy with a medium body that was thicker than I was expecting, this beer from Ballast Point has tonnes of bitterness coming through with some nice sweetness in there too; there was definitely more of that from the sweet malts than I was expecting but it worked well with the hops bitterness. Naturally for such a strong beer, there was a little alcohol showing in places but the beer seems quite juicy and slightly refreshing even, going down far easier than a 10% abv. beer should have thanks to the moderate carbonation and the excellent balance.
Overall (17/20): This one was an outstanding beer from Ballast Point, it’s a shame their beers aren’t more readily available in Scotland. The beer tasted exactly like you would expect from a double IPA with a tonne of tropical fruit flavours, plenty of resinous pine and strong bitterness plus more sweet malts than I’d been expecting. The beer had a great balance and as a result I didn’t really ever notice the how strong it was save for the odd touch of alcohol in places and the ever so slightly warming feel towards the end but it still proved to be quite an easy beer to drink with a real juicy feel to it. Cracking stuff from Ballast Point and a beer I’ll definitely be on the look out to try again soon.
Brewed In: San Diego, California, United States of America
Brewery: Ballast Point Brewing Company
Full Name: Ballast Point Calico Copper Amber Ale
First Brewed: 2002
Type: Double IPA
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: BottleDog (London)
The penultimate beer review from my recent trip to Ireland now, this one is another bottle that I managed to pick up whilst stopping off in Donegal for the afternoon and finding it in a local off-license. The beer will be my first from the Wicklow Wolf brewery but I have spotted a couple of their beers in the past while over in Ireland and for one reason or another hadn’t ever tried one up until now. Black Perle is one of the breweries core beers, an English style porter that has been about since 2013 and actually proved to be quite an enjoyable offering, here’s what I thought of it when I tried it a couple of weeks ago in Ireland.
Appearance (4/5): Pitch black and opaque with a thumb-sized, foamy head that’s a light tan colour with a creamy looking texture. Retention is quite good early on with the beer losing about half its size over the opening minute or so.
Aroma (7/10): Dark roasted malts and some strong coffee notes kick things off here, there’s a little dark chocolate early on too. I managed to detect some semi-sweet notes in there as well before some nutty patches made themselves known around the middle. There was some light bitterness sitting in the background along with some grain before some subtle vanilla notes and background fruits saw things out.
Taste (7/10): Dark fruits and some roasted malts kick things off here giving the beer quite a dark, strong taste to begin with. There’s some faint sugars and grains in there with the same nuttiness around the middle that featured on the nose. I got some nice coffee flavours and roasted touches with a little smoke towards the end.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite dark on the palate, there’s some nice bitterness throughout and a little spice mixed in with the smoky flavours. Touches of grain some through in areas but for the most part it was quite a smooth beer with a partially creamy texture and quite soft carbonation.
Overall (14/20): Quite a nice smoked style porter with good roasted malts and coffee flavours running through it along with touches of sweetness in places. There was a nice balance and it proved to be a pleasant beer to sip away at over the course of an hour or so, a decent beer and one well worth picking up if you’re in Ireland and manage to find it.
Brewed In: Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland
Brewery: Wicklow Wolf Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2013
Type: English Porter
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Donegal, Ireland
Price: €3.70 (approx. £2.70)
My fourth beer from New York’s Sixpoint brewery now and another can from them, this time I’ll be reviewing their Bengali which is a reworking of their Bengali Tiger American IPA that I reviewed here previously. This particular beer was only introduced last summer (2014) after the aforementioned Bengali Tiger was retired after first being brewed back in 1999. This one is an “enhanced Sixpoint IPA formulation” and one that uses “a blend of new hop strains” to give the beer 69 IBU’s but in truth I’m not expecting anything all that different from the can on Bengali Tiger I tried early last year; let’s see if that’s the case.
Appearance (4/5): Copper tinged amber with a clear body and a thin, foamy white head on top that doesn’t seem quite as good as that on the Bengali Tiger I poured last year. but still looks nice, covering the surface well with touches of lacing on the sides of the glass too.
Aroma (7/10): Similar to its predecessor but slightly more sweet, there is quite a lot of resinous pine early on with some strong hops coming through as well. There’s some nice grapefruit & floral notes with touches of alcohol showing and a nice amount of caramel towards the end.
Taste (7/10): Floral tasting initially with some good background fruits, most notably some orange and citrus with some grapefruit and various tropical flavours coming through as well. This was followed by some pine hops before the caramel from the nose came through and added a little sweetness; again there was some light alcohol at the end as well.
Palate (4/5): Smooth on the palate and refreshing despite the strong bitterness. The beer had carbonation levels falling somewhere around light-medium and there was a sticky sweetness towards the end along with faint alcohol grains.
Overall (16/20): This one, as expected, was a very similar beer to the can of Bengali Tiger from Sixpoint that I tried just over a year ago with the only difference seeming to be the look of the beer when I poured it; this one wasn’t quite up to its predecessors high standard but it still done the job. Again this one was quite bitter with some strong, resinous pine and the odd tropical fruit coming through with some touches of sweetness and faint alcohol at the end. Quite an enjoyable beer and one that I’ll go back to again no doubt, although it just seems like a Bengali Tiger to me really.
Brewed In: Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York, United States of America
Brewery: Sixpoint Brewery
First Brewed: 2014
Type: American IPA
Serving: Can (355ml)
Purchased: The Society Room (JD Wetherspoons), Glasgow, Scotland
One of the last few reviews of beers I tried whilst over in Ireland recently, this one is a beer I grabbed at an Enniskillen off-license to drink on my last night in the country. The beer will be my first from the Clanconnel Brewing company based in County Armagh and is a beer named after the ’Mighty’ Master McGrath, a greyhound that according to the brewery is greatest to ever race, having won the Waterloo Cup in 1868, 1869 and 1871. Not a beer or even a brewery that I’d heard of prior to picking the beer up, I went into this one expecting a fairly traditional style beer and that’s pretty much what I got, here’s what I thought of this one from Clanconnel.
Appearance (4/5): Deep mahogany in colour with a few red tinges and a fairly clear body, this one has a half centimetre tall head that features some nice build up of lacing around the edges too and it holds well initially.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a nutty smelling aroma early on, there is some background sweetness with a few toasted malts and biscuit notes before some caramel starts to show. There wasn’t anything too strong about the beer but it was pleasant enough with some subtle sugars and the odd background fruits in there too.
Taste (6/10): The taste kicks off with what is mainly a biscuit taste with some faint caramel flavours backing this up alongside some slightly sweet malts. Like the nose, it’s not a partially strong-tasting beer but at the same time it’s not a weak one either, there’s some burnt sugars and toffee coming through with some toasted malts from the nose and touches of bitterness right at the end.
Palate (3/5): This one had a light medium body and was quite smooth with some nice bitterness running through it as well as some touches of sweetness around the middle which helped give the beer a slightly sticky feel in parts. There’s not a whole lot of depth to this one but the balance was nice enough and I’ve no real complaints with regards to the palate.
Overall (12/20): This one was a solid, if slightly uninteresting, Irish red ale that was fairly traditional in style with little variation from the norm. There was a nice balance to proceedings but I felt it could have been a little more pronounced with the smell and a few flavours more difficult to detect than I’d have liked at times. It was an easy beer to drink but it’s not really one worth seeking out, it was all pretty average if I’m honest.
Brewed In: Craigavon, County Armagh, Ireland
Brewery: Clanconnel Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2010
Full Name: Clanconnel #1 McGrath’s Irish Red Ale
Type: Irish Red Ale
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Winemark (Enniskillen)
Another black IPA now, I’ve tried quite a few of these recently which is always a good thing since it’s up there with my favourite styles of beer. This one comes from the Firestone Walker brewery in California and is one of a number of beers from them that I picked up at the start of the summer. This one was a new beer for 2012, the brewery’s first attempt at a black IPA, and is one that’s already won a number of awards in the three years since. Along with winning back to back gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival under the American-style black ale category in 2012 and 2013, the beer was then named at one of the 25 best by Draft magazine in 2012 so I’m expecting big things from this one.
Appearance (4/5): This one pours a really dark looking and quite deep brown colour that boarders on black. The body is opaque and is topped with a foamy, tan brown head that’s just under a centimetre tall before turning patchy and leaving some lacing on the sides after about thirty seconds.
Aroma (9/10): Strong and dark malts with some coffee kick things off here, there some quite strong hops making an appearance too though early on. I got some nice pine notes with good sweetness in there as well with the beer coming through with pleasant tropical fruit notes, quite a bit of citrus and some touches of spice after that. The beer had quite a good balance on the nose and was definitely strong enough with some bitterness and very faint alcohol right at the end.
Taste (8/10): Tropical fruits and some grapefruit gets things rolling with the taste, there is quite a bit of citrus in there too, not to mention some darker malts, hints of chocolate and a little coffee as well. Again there is some nice sweetness coming through with a little caramel but the hops aren’t to be outdone with some touches of resinous pine before some faint alcohol sees things out.
Palate (5/5): This one comes through with a medium to full body that features plenty of bitterness from the start, there’s some nice sweetness imparted from the malts as well and I could detect a slight citrus tang in there as well. The beer was quite smooth and had an excellent balance, there was moderate carbonation and a faint touch of alcohol towards the finish; really nice stuff from Firestone Walker here.
Overall (17/20): Quite a strong tasting beer that hit the spot with a good combination of pine and tropical fruits early on that was balanced out well thanks to the darker malts and some sweetness. Despite the strength and the fact that touches of alcohol were showing towards the end, the beer was quite an easy one to drink and I worked my way through it quicker than I probably should have; an excellent beer and one I’ll be on the look out for again.
Brewed In: Paso Robles, California, United States of America
Brewery: Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2012
Full Name: Firestone Walker Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA
Type: Black IPA
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
My 18th unique beer from The Kernel brewery now, another pale ale from them this time and one that I picked up since I felt it had been a while since my last new beer from them. I usually do my best to grab a new one from them whenever I get the chance as the vast majority of the time it proves to be another excellent beer so hopefully this one will be more of the same. The beer uses, you’ve guessed it, Citra, Zeus, Summit and El Dorado hops which I think is a new combination for me and I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out. Going by what I can find out online, this one is a new beer from the brewery that was launched in early May this year and if their other beers are anything to go bu then this one probably won’t be around for too long so as always it’s best to grab it while you still can.
Appearance (4/5): Orange amber in colour and slightly cloudy, this one is topped with a half centimetre tall head that’s foamy white and looks quite thick, managing to cover the surface of the beer well and hold over the opening few minutes.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a juicy beer on the nose and one that seemed quite refreshing initially, there’s quite a lot of pine and tropical fruit notes coming through as well as a few hops but nothing is overly pronounced either. There’s a few subtle malts appearing but I struggled to detect much in the way of any sweetness before the grassy hops and further citrus started to come through towards the end.
Taste (6/10): Tropical fruits and some juicy hops kick things off here, there’s a little citrus coming through as well but it’s not as pronounced as with the nose. I managed to detect some subtle malts and a touch of sweetness that seemed to be missing from the nose but again nothing really sticks out with this one and it could have used being slightly stronger. There’s some earthy flavours making an appearance around the middle and towards the end with some nice bitterness in there too though.
Palate (4/5): A medium bodied beer that is quite smooth on the palate, this one has a slight tang to it from the citrus hops which also impart a nice bitterness on the beer, as do the other three hops used here. There is a fairly refreshing feel to this one and it goes down quite easily, helped along the way by some moderate carbonation and a slightly dry finish.
Overall (13/20): While this one was an easy to drink beer and didn’t really have anything wrong with it, I’d have to say it’s not one of The Kernel’s best offerings and seemed miles away from some of the better beers I’ve tried from the brewery in the past. The beer was hoppy with some nice tropical fruits and citrus coming through, it seemed quite refreshing and the balance wasn’t bad but it could definitely have been a little more pronounced, the taste in particular was only slightly better than a weak one. Overall it was an okay beer but it could have been so much better, especially when compared to other American pale ale’s from The Kernel and as such it’s not one I’ll be likely to pick up again.
Brewed In: London, England
Brewery: The Kernel Brewery
First Brewed: 2015
Type: American Pale Ale
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: The Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)