Carlingford Taaffe’s Red

January 23, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 3.15

The first of two beers from the County Louth based Carlingford brewery now, this one will actually be my first craft beer from the county since the others I’ve tried from there are all brewed by Dundalk which covers the Smithwick’s range as well as Harp Lager. I’m hoping this one will be a step up from those mass-market offerings and that’s part of the reason I picked this one up alongside a bottle of the brewery’s Tholsel Blonde, a review of which will follow this one. Labelled as an Irish red ale, this one will also be the first of the style that I’ll have reviewed in a while and was one of the beers that I tried on my last night in Ireland before returning home for the New Year.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a dark caramel brown to chestnut with a half centimetre head that was an off-white to light-tan colour with a bubbly texture; it did take quite an aggressive pour to form though but managed to hold well with only a slight break-up towards one side.
Aroma (6/10): Opening with biscuit malts and some light caramel notes, the beer had some toffee coming through and seemed nutty overall. It was quite mellow around the middle with some toasted malts and a few background, almost summer type fruits rounded things off nicely.
Taste (6/10): Following on in a similar fashion to the nose, the taste kicked off with some biscuit malts and nutty flavours with some subtle caramel backing it up and adding a nice sweetness. Towards the middle some toasted malts and a few fruits started to come through on top of quite an earthy but basic body before some grassy hops and a few touches of bread seen things out.
Palate (3/5): Light medium bodied and not quite as full as expected, the beer was quite crisp though with a sharp feel that was clean and towards the end turned quite dry. There was an earthy, nutty feel throughout this one and it wasn’t overly bitter at least but it definitely seemed quite basic throughout.

Overall (11/20): This one started quite strong with a nutty taste that was quite earthy throughout too, there was one subtle bitterness at points as well which was nice to see. Further on there was a few caramel touches and some nice background fruits to keep things interesting but the balance wasn’t a particularly good one and it was also a little lighter than I’d have liked so it’s probably one that I’d avoid in future sadly.

Brewed In: Riverstown, County Louth, Ireland
Brewery: Carlingford Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Irish Red Ale
Abv: 4.8%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £2.49

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Reel Deel Jack The Lad

January 23, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.15

My first beer from Reel Deel, a County Mayo based brewery that is responsible for this one; a beer they label as an ‘Irish pale ale’. The beer is one that I sampled over the holidays after picking the bottle up on Christmas Eve along with a few other Irish beers. Although not from a brewery that I’d heard anything about previously, the beer is one that caught my eye thanks to the label design. This was one of several from the brewery that the shop had in stock as well, so hopefully I’ll be able to try a couple more from Reel Deel when I’m back over in Ireland later in the year.

Appearance (3/5): Copper tinged amber with a slightly hazy body and quite a large, foamy white head on top that threatened to overflow the glass. The beers head was quite a thick looking one that was wavy on top and left plenty of lacing on the sides of the glass too. It was an active looking beer that had tonnes of visible carbonation and the head seemed to constantly be rising, taking an age to finally settle and allow me to start drinking.
Aroma (7/10): Quite strong on the nose with lots of citrus hops and some pine backing them up which gave the beer a fresh and lively feel on the nose. There was some grapefruit and hints of orange coming through with a little biscuit malt further on and some earthy touches towards the middle and end. It was quite a floral nose that finished things off with some spices coming through then as well.
Taste (6/10): Following on nicely from the nose, the beer was again quite fresh and lively with a solid hop bitterness and a few floral touches as well; citra hops were the most pronounced in the early going. Towards the middle there was a nice combination of orange and pine with a few pale malts and biscuit flavours following on behind and the finish seemed more herbal than the nose was but a few of the background spices still showed this time around.
Palate (3/5): Quite an active and fizzy beer that was over-carbonated and resulted in an over-sized head that took an age to settle. The beer was crisp and quite lively though but seemed to be lacking a good balance and sat pretty average on the palate as I worked my way down the beer.

Overall (13/20): Quite lively but definitely over-carbonated, this one was bordering on gassy at times but was still quite a fresh, crisp offering that started with a lot of citrus and pine hops with some grapefruit backing them up. It was definitely stronger on the nose than expected which was nice and further on the taste was a fairly standard one that was a combination of the usual biscuit and earthy malts. It was a drinkable beer that went down easily enough but I’m not sure there was enough going on for it to warrant a repeat visit.

Brewed In: Knockalegan, County Mayo, Ireland
Brewery: Reel Deel Brewery
First Brewed: 2015
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Winemart (Enniskillen)
Price: £2.50

Lacada West Bay

January 19, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.3

My first beer from the County Antrim based Lacada Brewery in the north of Ireland and another beer that I picked up just before Christmas whilst visiting the country. I opened this one a couple of days after Christmas while it was still fresh and although it wasn’t a beer that I’d been aware of previously, I was looking forward to seeing how it turned out given it’s not one that I’m likely to see in Scotland anytime soon. Part of the Irish brewery’s Salamander Series, this one is a new citra pale ale for 2017 from a brewery that only launched back in October 2015 so hopefully I’ll see a few more of the brewery’s beer when I make return trips to Ireland later this year.

Appearance (4/5): A hazy, almost copper amber colour that had a centimetre tall, bubbly white head on top that started to turn foamy on the surface but managed to hold well initially without much break up.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a lot of hops open things up with some citrus and pine coming through strong and some touches of grapefruit not too far behind. The beer was definitely a fresh and zesty one with some lemongrass and a few pale malts towards the middle before some biscuit malts rounded things off.
Taste (6/10): Quite a zesty tasting beer with strong citrus/lemon flavours initially, there was some strong hops and grapefruit at this point too. Towards the middle I got some pale malts that seemed a touch stronger than they were with the nose and a hop bitterness started to appear towards the end alongside some lighter fruits.
Palate (3/5): Light bodied and a touch watery at points, the beer was moderately carbonated with a slight citrus tang and some hop bitterness but seemed quite basic and weak at points too sadly.

Overall (12/20): Quite an underwhelming beer that was interesting on the nose but faded come the taste with only some basic hops and citrus flavours coming through. At times it seemed closer an IPA than a pale ale but it started to fade towards the middle and end, seeming weak and bland at points; it’s not one I’d go for again.

Brewed In: Portrush, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Lacada Brewery Co-Op
First Brewed: 2017
Full Name: Lacada Salamander Series #5: West Bay Citra Pale Ale
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 4.6%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Winemart (Enniskillen)
Price: £2.39

O Brother The Sinner

January 18, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.65

The second of two beers from the O Brother brewery now, this one follows quickly on from their The Chancer American pale ale that I reviewed here previously and is another I picked up over in Ireland just before Christmas at the end of last year. This particular offering from the brewery comes in slightly stronger than their last, sitting at 6.2% abv. and promising a hop-filled taste, this is another from the brewery that I was looking forward to prior to opening just after Christmas; especially since their The Chancer offering turned out to be a fairly good one.

Appearance (4/5): An almost caramel amber with a foamy head on top that was thick looking before starting to turn bubbly but retention was good at least.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a malty beer with some subtle hops and citrus coming through in the early going, there was some earthy hops showing as well. Around the middle some pine started to make itself known alongside some light caramel which also helped some with the balance of the beer on the nose.
Taste (7/10): Opening with a few biscuit malts and some background citrus, the beer was quite fresh tasting with a light grapefruit flavour towards the middle and some tropical fruits not too far behind. It was quite a bitter beer with some caramel sweetness later on and a few pale malts seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Somewhere around medium bodied and quite a bitter offering, the beer was fresh and strongly carbonated with a smooth mouthfeel. From the middle on the beer was quite dry but definitely easy to drink with a crisp finish that was quite enjoyable.

Overall (15/20): Definitely a fresh and lively beer, this one opened with some pleasant citrus flavours that were backed up by some grapefruit and pine which gave the beer a hop-filled taste in the early going. There was some biscuit and earthy malts further on with some caramel sweetness doing well to provide a nice balance with the beer; a decent effort and one well worth trying.

Brewed In: Kilcoole, County Wicklow, Ireland
Brewery: O Brother Brewing
First Brewed: 2015
Type: American IPA
Abv: 6.2%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Winemart (Enniskillen)
Price: £2.50

O Brother The Chancer

January 18, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 3.65

The first of two beers from the Wicklow based O Brother brewery now, both of which were beers that I picked up just before Christmas whilst over in Ireland. The brewery wasn’t one that I’d heard of previously but I was taken by the names and labels on these beers and decided to pick this America pale ale up alongside their The Sinner American IPA when visiting an off license in the Fermanagh area. This one appears to be a late 2014 release from the brewery going by online reviews and gets quite a good rating for an Irish brewed American pale ale so it was one that I was looking forward to trying when I cracked it open just after Christmas at the end of last year.

Appearance (4/5): Golden amber with a hazy body and a centimetre tall, foamy white head that was wavy on top and left some nice lacing on the sides of the glass too.
Aroma (6/10): Floral with a relatively fresh nose initially, this one had some citrus and pine with a little grapefruit following on behind. Around the middle I got some tropical fruits with mango being the most dominant before a few biscuit malts and earthy touches started to come through. It wasn’t an overly pronounced offering on the nose but it was a pleasant aroma and the balance seemed good as well.
Taste (7/10): Quite bitter-tasting to start, the beer had a lot of grapefruit and pine coming through with some touches of citrus in there as well. It was a floral and tangy beer with a few background summer fruits coming through alongside some peach and mango. Towards the end the beer was quite zesty with a few pale malts to balance things out and there was an earthy bitterness right at the death.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite lively with a fresh feel coming through from the start. There was some dryness towards the end of the beer with a floral bitterness and some tangy touches as well but it remained balanced and drinkable throughout,

Overall (15/20): Quite a fresh and lively offering from O Brother, this one was an easy beer to drink thanks to the hop bitterness at the start and tropical flavours around the middle. There was some lighter malts and biscuit flavours at points to help with the balance too but I would have liked to see a little more sweetness to back these up; it was still a very enjoyable beer and one that I wouldn’t mind having again.

Brewed In: Kilcoole, County Wicklow, Ireland
Brewery: O Brother Brewing
First Brewed: 2014
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.4%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Winemart (Enniskillen)
Price: £2.50

InishMacSaint Little Dog IPA

January 16, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.2

My fifth beer from Fermanagh based InnishMacSaint now, this one is a beer that I picked up just before Christmas when visiting the county and follows one from their Pure Foundered Belgian ale that I tried on my last visit to the area in August/September last year. This one is an English style IPA with a few touches of fruit and hop bitterness coming through and is a beer that I picked up given it’s really only available in the Fermanagh area, and not because I was a fan of the brewery’s previous offerings; although their original Fermanagh Beer wasn’t too bad but everything else from the brewery has been quite poor.

Appearance (2/5): Yellow to golden in colour with a hazy body that had a half centimetre tall head on top that was foamy and white with the odd bubble through it. There was quite a lot of sediment showing in the beer through and it looked brown in colour with a few larger bits dotted around the place but head retention was good at least.
Aroma (6/10): Opening with a combination of citrus and pine with lemon notes being the most dominant initially but with some background fruits featuring as well. The beer was fresh with some mango coming through alongside touches of yeast and coriander that made it slightly reminiscent of a witbier around the middle. It was an interesting enough beer that was quite balanced on the nose without having too much variety.
Taste (7/10): Subtle lemon and pine flavours kick things off with the hops adding a nice bitterness in the early going before some mango comes through towards the middle. It seemed fresher than the nose with a few pale malts and hints of coriander further on and some wheat right at the end too.
Palate (4/5): Somewhere around light medium bodied with a fairly fresh and well carbonated feel to it, this one was a smooth and wet beer that had some nice hop bitterness both at the start and at the end. It was quite a crisp beer to with a nice balance that made it quite an easy one to drink.

Overall (14/20): This one turned out to be a fairly enjoyable offering from Inishmacsaint despite it getting off to a shaky start after pouring, there seemed to be a lot of sediment through the beer but it settled at the bottom after a while and the beer itself was a nice one. There was a good combination of citrus and pine in the early going with the odd background fruit before some pale malts made themselves known around the middle. It was a relatively easy beer to drink as well with some hints of witbier coming through thanks to the coriander and wheat at the end; pleasant stuff and well worth trying if you can find it.

Brewed In: Drumskimly, Derrygonnelly, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Inishmacsaint Brewery
First Brewed: 2017
Type: English IPA
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Winemart (Enniskillen)
Price: £2.39

Guinness Irish Wheat

January 16, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.5

My thirteenth review of a beer from Guinness now, this one is a beer that they first released at the start of 2017 with most of the initial online reviews coming from people based in the US but it now appears to be more readily available in the UK now and I was able to grab a bottle in an off license in the north of Ireland over the Christmas holidays. The beer will be my first new one from Guinness since I reviewed and thoroughly enjoyed their Antwerpen Stout back in September when I was last in Ireland. Falling somewhere between a wheat ale and a hefeweizen, this was a bottle that I picked up solely because it was a Guinness offering that I’d not seen back in Scotland, although I assume it’s only a matter of time before it starts appearing in supermarket shelves here as well.

Appearance (4/5): Medium amber in colour with a hazy body and a half centimetre tall head that is creamy but a little smaller than anticipated for the style of the beer; retention was great though and the head covered the surface well throughout.
Aroma (6/10): Slightly subdued on the nose with some banana and clove opening things up with some touches of citrus coming through in the early going as well. Around the middle there was some biscuit malt showing with a hint of bread and then some sweet touches near the end with a little lemon peel and coriander to see things out.
Taste (6/10): Opening with some biscuit malts and bread, the beer didn’t seem as fresh on the nose but there was some citrus and lemon coming through towards the middle. I again got some clove and banana coming through and with them a little sweetness before a few pale malts started to show themselves. It was quite a basic tasting beer but fell short of being a bad one thankfully, with some spices and touches of wheat seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Falling just shy of medium bodied, the beer was strongly carbonated and fresh on the nose at least. There was a subtle tang from the citrus at times and it seemed crisp at points too with a subtle sweetness from the banana as well. It was quite an easy beer to drink with a good balance but it definitely bordered on basic.

Overall (14/20): This one was an interesting beer in that it’s nothing like Guinness normal make and it was an enjoyable beer despite it being a little basic at times. There was some nice banana and cloves coming through on the nose and with the taste with some subtle touches of citrus at times too whilst the balance was good enough to make it an easy one to drink. It was a well carbonated offering that was definitely sessionable and the hints of sweetness on top of the light malts and biscuit rounded things of well; it’s not a great beer but it’s certainly well worth trying if you stumble across it.

Brewed In: Dublin, Ireland
Brewery: St. James’s Gate Brewery
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Wheat Ale
Abv: 5.3%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Winemart (Enniskillen)
Price: £2.39