2017 was the year of the murkbeer, much to my chagrin. But, I think this year may be the very year non-alcoholic (NA) beers from craft producers will appear in larger numbers. The signs are there. Diageo/Guinness releasing ‘Pure Brew’ may prove to be the tipping point for craft brewers to try take their ability to really innovate on flavour into this space that atypically is bland, uninteresting & often utterly dissatisfying.
It’s that time of the bastardin’ year again when after many IPA’s, stouts, Imperial beers, sours & every special-batch-infused-with-something comes about & beer writers/bloggers/podcasters/video makers hand out their favorite imaginary award for ‘Best of the year’ in a flurry of aplomb, praise & thankfulness. And, HopAddiktion.com will be no different; hop torpedo’d on top of that bandwagon, riding it til the wheels fall off.
In Autumn 2014, BrewDog joined forces with legendary German brewer, Weihenstephan to release an ‘India Pale Weizen’, which was effectively a hopped up wheat beer. It was like a beery fanta orange on the nose, & in my view it was a really out there beer-style hybrid. Here we are in late Autumn 2017, three years later, & BrewDog have released another IPW, this time on their own called ‘Nine to Five Wizard’. Is this deja-vú, or a time-turner moment a-lá Harry Potter from Ellon?
BrewDog are a growing international business that’s come a fairly long way from ‘two-men-and-a-dog’ in a small industrial unit in Fraserburgh, Scotland. As they’ve grown to international markets, Ireland has become one of their biggest markets for sales of their beers. It seems only fitting a beer with an Irish-twist that wasn’t a stout was on the cards.
I have a very love/hate relationship with Galway Bay’s beers since the departure of Chris Traynor for pastures new in the Sound of Music of Heidi-land. Their regular beers have remained steadfast, but their special beers in general I have not liked at all. Their previous table beer (read: session beer), ‘Via Maris’ which came from the second-runnings of ‘Of Foam & Fury’ to me was always just an exercise in Brewery economics that tasted like it. So when they introduce a session/table beer that’s 3.8%, AND it’s a New England Style IPA, my expectations were subterranean, let alone rock bottom. I’ve never been happier to be so wrong, even with a huge Man VS Food-style serving of humble pie to eat in that error of judgement.
Ruination from Stone in my humble opinion (okay, so maybe my opinions aren’t very humble) is still one of the best DIPA’s in the world. But Stone being Stone, like Spinal Tap know where eleven is on the dial, & like to amp up Ruination to a tripel in the form of RuinTen as their tenth anniversary of Ruination. It has since made a few returns , each a full-on sensory assault of hops & barrels in double digits ABV. Orange peel? Vanilla bean? Are Stone going soft?
Craft beer drinkers are one of the single most spoiled consumer groups out there in Ireland right now. We’ve new beers appearing at what feels like every week that we can try, discuss, cogitate, digest & ruminate on. You’d be forgiven for thinking that craft brewers get arough deal in this, but every craft beer drinker I know has ‘go-to’ beers. Including this hopped up, opinionated assjockey of a beer blogger.
Kildare is proving to be a hotbed of microbrewery growth. Rye River, Kelly’s Mountain, Kildare Brewing Co., Two Sisters & Trouble Brewing. Trouble Brewing has been a stalwart of the craft beer scene in Ireland for seven years, with favourites such as ‘Deception’, ‘Dark Arts’, & ‘Sabotage’. But Trouble Brewing in 2017 is a very different animal beer wise & under its third revolution with former Bo Bristle brewer Dave Guilfoyle taking over the reins from Mark Nixon, who left to head up brewing at Hope. The third act of a story is typically meant to be the high point, & with the beers coming from their Kill facility today, Trouble are showing no sign of let-up.
Double IPA’s are probably my favorite beer style. The first one I ever had was Stone Brewing’s Ruination. It’s a beer that despite it’s change has remained a firm love of mine. One of my biggest gripes in our market for a number of years has been the lack of Double IPA’s I can put hands to & the ones that did exist were in the most part to me, very uninteresting. But that was then, this is now & we have a choice of Double IPA’s that makes this hopped up sonuvabitch … well, a happy sonuvabitch. I recently say down to crack into four of the latest ones to hit our market & give them a try.
Beer ratings. Whether it’s RateBeer, Untappd, BeerAdvocate or the ratings given by beer journos or bloggers/podcasters, Beer Ratings I think today are now due a proper discussion. A come-to-jesus-meeting type discussion.
I was recently reading a blogpost by a long standing follower of mine going way back to my podcast days, Myles Lambert which was titled ’20 Most Important Craft Beers…. on my journey.’ Over 2,000 different beers later, it got me thinking hard about my own journey through craft beer which really only started in 2001 despite growing up in a house where homebrewing was done regularily. And these when I think about it, are the 20 craft beers that even today are firm favorites that have influenced my tastes even now.
Just when it looked like everyone’s favorite (depending on where you stand) brewpunks were closing in on the long awaited & much anticipated Dublin bar, it would seem the Ellon-anarchists have hit another bump in the road on their plans for Dublin.