I've gone a bit patriotic at the moment, at least in terms of my beer drinking. I've a lot of English and German stuff in the cupboard, as well as a good few Belgians that I'm hoping to leave alone for a couple of years, so I decided I'd tackle what little I had from my own fair country for a while. This includes a couple of bottles of Eight Degrees' Howling Gale Ale, which is my current go-to from the fridge, a second bottle of the fantastic Ochtoberfest from the same brewer*, and both regular beers from Trouble Brewing in Kildare. I see these around quite regularly now, and I reckon it's about time I added them to the slowly growing list of the Destrier's fuel. Also, it gives me a chance to break out my Murphy's dimpled pint glass. Yes, I caved and bought one from one of those horrible Irish souvenir shops. The reason being I finally found a dimpled pint mug in a charity shop, bought it sharpish for only €2, only to have it smash in my bag on the way home. I refused to be without, and bought myself a branded Murphy's one. At least it's not the Guinness version...
Trouble Ór pours a few shades darker than it's suggested ór (gold for international readers), and produces a very small yet smooth white head. In the light, you can see it's crystal clear. The aroma presents a lovely malt and fruit balanced bouquet, with banana bread, toffee and dots of citrus becoming prominent. It's not exactly complex, but that's not what I'm looking for in this type of beer. Either way, it smells great. The taste offers more of the same, but with more emphasis on the hop character. A small piece of chocolate blends into the biscuit malt opening, while zesty peel hops take over thereafter. I get just a slight hint of the vegetal hop in the finish, lending a moderate bitterness. The body is medium to light, making this a very drinkable number.
It's good, and I look forward to trying the draught version, to see if it would compete with Metalman's Windjammer or the aforementioned Howling Gale Ale as my pale pint of choice.
Next up is something I was kind of excited about when I bought it, and very excited about when I actually took the time to read the label. Dark Arts Porter promises to go against the current trend of hopping beers to extremity and to deliver a porter driven mainly by malt. "Sometimes it's all about the malt," they say, "and sometimes that's the way it should be." Too right, my friends, I could not agree more. Maltheads unite!
Dark Arts pours a very dark but very clear red, and supports only a small bubbly off-white head. Reading my notes, I see the first thing written about the aroma is a big WOW. Despite the promise made on the label, I still wasn't expecting the beer to have such deep and dark malts. It's not entirely unlike a doppelbock, in the way there's a chewy toffee and chocolate sweetness to the aroma, as well as a touch of whiskey, despite the sessionable 4.4% ABV. I'm reminded of another heavyweight upon tasting - the dark chocolate and toffee opening has echoes of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, albeit on a toned-down scale - followed by a very light coffee bitterness and a gorgeous mix of dark fruits. There's great complexity to this beer, and it's absolutely delicious. The body's medium to light, and once again it's very sessionable and easy to drink, despite packing tonnes of flavour.
Hats off to Trouble Brewing for both these beers, but in particular the porter. It's malt driven for sure, but there's so much more to it than that. I now regret passing up a pint of this on taps around Cork...
*I remind any Irish drinkers out there to try the limited edition Ochtoberfest from Eight Degrees, it's a stunner.