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Posts Tagged ‘northern ireland’

Rathlin Red

January 24, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.8

The final beer of those that I picked up and tried while in Ireland over the Christmas holidays, this one is a County Antrim brewed beer from the Glens of Antrim brewery that I sampled on my last night in the country. Like a lot of the beers that I tried over the holidays, this one is another from a brewery that I’ve not come across before and is one that I picked up in a local bottle shop for that reason alone. The beer is an Irish red ale that I was surprised to learn uses Slovenian hops and will likely be one of my last new Irish beers until I return to the country later this year, mainly because I’ve tried most of the beers from the country that manage to make it to Scotland already

Appearance (3/5): A dark caramel amber that was hazy and topped with a half centimetre tall head that had a bubbly texture and white colour; it managed to hold well initially before a couple of patches slowly formed around a minute or so.
Aroma (6/10): Quite earthy with a lot of toasted malts and some background sweetness, the beer had some toffee showing initially with a touch less caramel following on behind. Around the middle I started to get some honey sweetness and a few biscuit malts with a roasted aroma seeing things out.
Taste (5/10): Sweeter than the nose with a lot more toffee showing and there was probably slightly more caramel coming through as well. These were followed by some biscuit malts, toasted flavours and a little bread with some nutty touches further on. Towards the end the sweetness continued with some honey and vanilla showing as well as some spice and basic malts.
Palate (3/5): Falling just shy of medium bodied, the beer was slightly lighter than I’d been hoping for but it was quite a smooth one with plenty of sweetness showing throughout. The balance wasn’t the best in truth and it wasn’t overly enjoyable either sadly but it was moderately carbonated and dry towards the end with a toasted bitterness seeing things out.

Overall (10/20): Quite a disappointing offering from Glens of Antrim and one that I’d been hoping for more from, it was a little poor with the sweetness a little more pronounced than expected too. There wasn’t a great deal of variety to the nose and although the beer did improve slightly with the taste, it’s not likely that it’s a beer that I’d go back to again.

Brewed In: Ballycastle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Glens Of Antrim
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Irish Red Ale
Abv: 4.8%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £2.79

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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

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

Horny Bull Stout

January 16, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.55

The second of the two Hillstown Brewery beers that I picked up in Ireland recently, this one following on from the bottle of Squealing Pig IPA from the brewery that I reviewed here last. This one is a beer that was originally a 12% abv. beer before being reduced to its current 7% abv. in subsequent batches but it’s still labelled as an imperial stout and that’s part of the reason I picked this one up. Like the bottle of Squealing Pig before it, this isn’t a beer that I’d seen on any of my previous trips to Ireland despite it being about since late 2014 but it does seem to attract fairly good reviews online and it was definitely one that I was excited about trying when I cracked the bottle open on Christmas Eve, here’s what I thought of it when I did.

Appearance (5/5): Quite a thick looking, black coloured beer that formed a large, foamy head that was domed shaped and almost overflowed the glass as I poured. It was a thick looking, light beige head that held well with little initial reduction in size for the first couple minutes before eventually settling as a centimetre and a half tall head that looked great.
Aroma (6/10): Not a huge amount came through initially with the nose, something that was a little surprising given the strength of the beer itself but there was some roasted malts and a subtle touch of alcohol in the early going. Towards the middle there was some lighter chocolate notes and a bit of caramel with some liquorice following on behind but it’s definitely a beer that could have been a lot stronger on the nose.
Taste (7/10): Thankfully the taste opened with more strength and flavour than the nose hinted at, there was some cocoa and chocolate to kick things off with a nice caramel sweetness bring things towards the middle. The beer seemed stronger with a touch of alcohol coming through alongside a few roasted malts and what was quite a creamy finish.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied with a slightly sweet feel that had some alcohol showing at times but was fairly well balanced for the most part. The body was softly carbonated and easy going despite the strength and the warming alcohol towards the end but it was nothing special sadly and I was definitely expecting a little more from it.

Overall (13/20): Quite a strange one from Hillstown here, the beer definitely opened lighter than expected for a beer that was 7% abv. and labelled as an imperial stout with the nose bordering on weak at points. Thankfully the taste was a little better with some nice cocoa and chocolate flavours alongside a caramel sweetness and subtle touches of alcohol to add a little strength and a slightly warming finish. The beer sadly wasn’t as exciting or varied as I’d anticipated and perhaps it lost something when it changed from a 12% abv. offering to it’s current 7% but it’s probably not a beer that I’d pick up again.

Brewed In: Randalstown, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Hillstown Brewery
First Brewed: 2014
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 7.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Enniskillen)
Price: £2.59

Hillstown Squealing Pig

January 16, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 3.15

The first of two Hillstown beers that I picked up recently when over in Ireland, I managed to grab this one in a Tesco store alongside a bottle of the brewery’s Horny Bull Stout and tried both just before Christmas at the end of last year. This one is an English style IPA from a brewery that I’ve not tried anything from before but it was one I was excited to pick up. The beer is brewed in Antrim and like all the brewery’s beers, this one features an animal in the title but sadly the two I picked up were the only from the brewery that Tesco seemed to have in stock, although I did visit late on Christmas Eve so hopefully I’ll have the chance to grab some more from Hillstown when I’m back in Ireland later this year.

Appearance (4/5): A light, golden amber colour that is semi-cloudy looking and topped with a half centimetre, bubbly white head that leaves a little lacing on the sides but covers the surface well; it was a nice start from this one.
Aroma (6/10): Opening with some subtle hops and touches of citrus, the beer had a faint biscuit aroma that was backed up by touches of lemon and a couple of grassy hops. It wasn’t a very varied offering sadly and came through somewhat basic with a couple of lighter fruits at the end to round things off.
Taste (6/10): Quite light and definitely not an overly pronounced offering, the beer stated with some grassy hops and basic biscuit malts but there wasn’t a whole lot after that. I got some citrus and lemon flavours around the middle with some hay and a light sweetness further on but it was very light and basic throughout I’m afraid.
Palate (3/5): Falling somewhere between light-medium and medium bodied, this one was lightly carbonated with a faint citrus tang and not much going on beyond that really. It was fairly easy to drink but quite basic and bland at times with nothing special about it to report really.

Overall (11/20): Coming through more like an English pale ale than an IPA at times but definitely quite a light and basic beer, this one was predominantly made up for biscuit malts and citrus with likely else beyond that. The beer was quite easy to drink with some lighter fruits towards the end and the odd pale malt showing but it’s not exactly an enjoyable beer I’m afraid.

Brewed In: Randalstown, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Hillstown Brewery
First Brewed: 2017
Type: English IPA
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Enniskillen)
Price: £2.59

InishMacSaint Pure Foundered

September 19, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.35

A fourth beer from Fermanagh based InishMacSaint here and my first from them since trying their Muck Savage wheat ale on Christmas Day back in 2015. The first beer from the brewery that I ever tried, their self-titled InishMacSaint proved to be quite an enjoyable offering but the Muck Savage as well as their Lough Erne Porter that I have tried since never really excited me much; both were drinkable but nothing special sadly. I picked this one up when I spotted it at a local bottle shop in Fermanagh last month with the hope that it would be an improvement on the last couple from the brewery; here’s what I thought of it when I tried it a couple of weeks ago.

Appearance (3/5): Bright golden to yellow in cloudy with a cloudy body but a head that disappeared quiet quickly, even after an aggressive pour from the bottle. It more of a thin and bubbly white lacing that formed above a few fine bubbles that were rising to the surface of the beer.
Aroma (6/10): Quite light on the nose with some citrus and floral touches opening things up alongside a faint hint of orange and some cloves towards the middle. There was an almost witbier like aroma to this one at times with some background fruits helping to keep things fresh but it was far from the strongest beer out there.
Taste (7/10): Quite fruity and opening with a nice combination of citrus and orange flavours before the cloves from the nose started to come through. There was a little wheat this time around too which lent weight to the beer seeming like a witbier at times as well. There was some floral bursts around the middle with the odd pale malts and some grassy flavours sneaking in too but again it wasn’t an overly pronounced offering from the brewery.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied but perhaps a little lighter than I’d have liked to see, the beer was quite fresh and lively though with above average carbonation and some good floral bursts too. There was a dry and crisp feel to this one that seemed to have a nice balance as well; decent stuff from InnishMacSaint.

Overall (13/20): This one was a slightly better than expected offering from the brewery, I’d not been overly optimistic about this one after the last couple from them weren’t overly enjoyable but this one turned out okay without ever really exciting or hitting the heights of their original InishMacSaint beer. The beer started relatively poorly thanks to its lack of head and weaker than expected aroma but things definitely picked up a little with the nose and some nice citrus flavours started to appear alongside basic fruits. At times the beer was much closer to a witbier than a Belgian pale ale with wheat, cloves and the odd spice all featuring but it proved an easy one to drink whilst staying fresh throughout.

Brewed In: Drumskimly, Derrygonnelly, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Inishmacsaint Brewery
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Belgian Pale Ale
Abv: 6.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £2.49

McGrath’s Irish Stout

September 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.7

My third beer to fall under the McGrath’s banner and my second in relatively quick succession, this one follows on from the Clanconnel  brewery’s McGrath’s Irish Blonde that I tried only a couple of years ago; the other beer from the brewery that I have tried was their McGrath’s Irish Red Ale that I tried just over two years ago in the summer of 2015. This particular beer is actually one that was recommended by a friend and I was on the lookout for it on my recent trip to Ireland, luckily I found it in a local Tesco supermarket without too much searching and was able to give it a try. I’ve also noticed that the odd one of this brewery’s beers are starting to make appearances in Scotland from time to time, hopefully that means I’ll be able to try a couple more from them without searching for them when I’m next in Ireland.

Appearance (4/5): Opaque black in colour and quite thick looking too, this one is a very dark beer with a large head that sits about three centimetres tall in the glass. It’s a tan brown coloured head with a foamy texture and it seems relatively thick too, as well as hold steady it also leaves touches of lacing on the sides of the glass and looks good.
Aroma (7/10): Quite dark on the nose with a lot of roasted notes coming through in the early going with touches of sugar and coffee not too far behind; it’s a relatively strong nose initially. I detected a few earthy malts and faint touches of chocolate towards the middle as well but it was definitely the coffee that seemed strongest without overpowering; nice stuff.
Taste (7/10): Roasted malts and quite a bit of coffee kick things off here, there was some sugars and a touch of sweetness as a result too. There beer was faintly spiced around the middle with some earthy malts and dark flavours in there as well. Towards the end I got some toasted flavours that came through a little stronger than the coffee and chocolate ones with some nice liquorice to round things off with.
Palate (4/5): Sitting around medium bodied and quite lively for the style, this one had above average carbonation levels and a semi-sweet feel to it, thanks mainly to the chocolate and sugars in the early going. There was a roasted feel to the beer from the middle on and I managed to detect the odd grain towards the end of what was quite a dry finish; the balance of the beer was a good one too.

Overall (14/20): This one was a very nice stout from Clanconnel, definitely much better than either of the two beers that I had from the brewery previously and one that I’ll likely find myself drinking again at some point in the near future. The beer p[opened with some great roasted flavours along with subtle touches of sugar and chocolate to add a little sweetness; there was some pleasant coffee flavours too which helped impact just a touch of bitterness. It was relatively complex, especially when compared to previous offerings from the brewery and it went down very easily as well; great stuff.

Brewed In: Craigavon, County Armagh, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Clanconnel Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2011
Full Name: Clanconnel #6 McGrath’s Irish Black Stout
Type: Irish Dry Stout
Abv: 4.3%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Enniskillen)
Price: £1.80