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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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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

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

Dark Revolution So.LA

January 15, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.75

Another beer that I picked up from the Wee Beer Shop in Glasgow just before Christmas, this one a Salisbury brewed beer from Dark Revolution that I picked up in the hopes that it would be quite a fresh and lively pale ale with plenty of hops showing. The beer was a relatively well priced one and that was part of the reason I grabbed it given I’d never heard of the brewery before but the bottle also appealed to me for some reason and reminded me of beers from the Wild Beer Co. that I’d enjoyed in the past so I decided to give it a go; here’s what I thought of the bottle I eventually tried at the start of this year.

Appearance (3/5): Pale and hazy amber looking, this one is topped with a centimetre tall head that is white and foamy but manages to hold well initially but the beer itself looked relatively thin when it was being poured.
Aroma (7/10): Opening with some citrus hops and a background sweetness, the beer had some mango and apricot notes to start and was quite light overall. There was a nice bitterness showing throughout with touches of straw and orange towards the end as well.
Taste (6/10): Lighter than expected but matching the nose well, the beer opened with citrus and pine hops alongside some tropical fruits that added some sweetness to proceedings. There wasn’t a great deal of strength to the beer but some straw and grassy hops seen things out alongside a faint bitterness.
Palate (2/5): Quite light and almost watery at times, the beer was a bland offering for the most part but some hop bitterness did show at times. It was a dry beer that seemed quite smooth but was lacking in variety and came through quite weak from the middle on.

Overall (9/20): Very disappointing stuff from Dark Revolution, I went into this one expecting quite a strong and hoppy pale ale with plenty of citrus, pine and tropical fruits with a nice caramel backing but in the end it failed to deliver; some pine and citrus did show but it was far too weak and little else came through to back them up. The beer definitely seemed quite weak and bland with only a slight sweetness further on and some basic grassy hops to see things out.

Brewed In: Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Brewery: Dark Revolution
First Brewed: 2016
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Wee Beer Shop (Glasgow)
Price: £2.30