Monday, February 9, 2009

Irish Beer, Part III

I'm eager to get back to covering brewing activities so here is a quick round up of Irish beer with notes on the few stragglers. Occasionally I found an Irish beer available outside a brew pub at a non-beer bar. These were all pleasant surprises to the usual Guinness/lager/cider choices.

Galway Hooker: A pale ale from a craft brewery in the west. They deliberately limit distribution to certain pubs where it would be tasted with open minds. It tasted like a three quarter strength Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA. Nothing amazing but a nice every day beer. Galway Hooker on the web.

O'Hara's Celtic Stout: A stout from the Carlow Brewing Company. I found this one in bottles at an off-license so thankfully I could taste it without flavor obfuscating nitro-kegging. Smooth and roasty; exactly how I wish Guinness would taste. The best Irish stout I've tasted. Carlow also brews a red and a wheat which I did not try.

Kinsale Lager: As far as I can tell this is the only offering from Kinsale Brewing Company in Kinsale. After a 3 km walk each way to Charles Fort in Summercove, a pint of this lager showed its strengths. A refreshing, light body carrying bready malt combined with just enough noble hops.

Overall I was surprised at how awful the beer selection was in Ireland. Finding these craft brews was rare and each of these were only in one location. I only found Franciscan Well to have decent distribution, but only within Cork city. I think that Irish culture can be extremely conservative in certain aspects, especially when it comes to food and drink. So any change in the beer available will come slowly but there is a start with the brews I've mentioned.

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