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.
Despite my feelings towards many of the beers from Galway Bay, there is absolutely no doubting their contribution to the craft beer revolution in Ireland. Twelve bars. Yes, you read that right. Twelve. And they’ve more in the pipeline,even after the recent acquisition of their first bar outside the Republic, Belfast’s BrewBot bar on the Ormeau Road. They’ve produced in my opinion a reasonable collection of staple beers (with Buried At Sea being a firm favorite of mine), & a hit-and-miss (again, just my opinion – and as I’ve told you before dear reader, my opinions mean jack shit as they’re unique to me & my taste preferences) collection of sours, barrel-aged beers & other specials.
I had been hearing good things about ‘Croozer’ before I even ventured to pick up a bottle. This was in spite of the fact it was a ‘New England style’ IPA which I’ve mentioned many times how this style just doesn’t do it for me. What grabbed my attention with this was its ABV. Others in the murkfest have been 7% or higher fruit chews that just have not been enjoyable.
First of all, I’m going to get into a topic that is odd, even by my lofty standards; the name. I think I understand why they chose the name ‘Croozer‘. The first thought was ‘cruising’ as in goes along or down smooth, but they wanted it to look cool on a bottle, & also to not be associated with the ‘act of cruising‘ (if you need help understanding this, you’re welcome).
I think I may be coming to a juncture with craft beer names. There’s a part of my brain now that sighs at many of them as they arive to the market. I know, I can barely believe it myself that I’m making that admission. I think I’m either getting old, or the attempts at appealing to twenty-somethings, who don’t have the same gusto for craft beer (if you believe the reports, or you choose to not believe them) is lost on me.
In any case, this beer comes in a bottle, which at this juncture feels like a novelty given how many come in can these days. Galway Bay only recently joined the canned-revolution with their ‘Perfect Union’ collab with NOLA Brewing. Cracking it open, there’s a lovely citrus hit that comes forth with some lemongrass & herbaceous notes. This is a really nice surprise for a NEIPA, & it has definitely captured my attention.
The pour is lovely, as is the wonderfully creamy head on it. The colour is your now standard-fare NEIPA, & it’s murky. There’s no half-arsing here. The aroma on this is fantastic, & defintely lacks the usual over-sweet fruit notes that many NEIPAS suffer from (which I intensely dislike). The truth as they say will be in the taste.
And what a taste! There’s a discernable bitterness here that is right up my alley. I am so glad with this they had it lean towards bitter. It also has a ridiculously nice body to it, which has a great texture that is very enjoyable. Every second this beer is in my mouth is glorious. And I do mean, glorious.
It is ridiculously drinkable, & every moment with it is sensationally enjoyable. Without sounding like a twat, you ‘could’ sink this beer if you wanted to on a warm day, but I think it’s one you could really sit over & enjoy equally. There’s a word that beer writers/bloggers/wankers throw around alot; ‘balance’, & rarely is that qualified.
This beer has a fantastic balance between its bitterness, the aroma, the texture & the flavours. And those flavours, they scream hard for such a low ABV beer. On the nose, it’s a fantastic lemon sherbert with some sweet grapefruit & orange. On the palette, it has this wonderful zingy orange, sweet grapefruit, apple which is helped along by a very soft, velvety carbonation with that bitterness fitting in like Rick Savage’s backing vocals in a big Def Leppard anthemic chorus. And it was perfect on a day I was smoking a big brisket, along with some other meats. It hit the spot while I sat outside chilling out in the open Cabo air.
Vermont Ale yeast being used in such a low ABV beer is really unusual in today’s swathe of murkclones, all of which are high ABV chewathons. It feels odd for me to say this about a NEIPA-beer, but this beer could easily make a decision between this, Roll Over by Whiplash or Dead Pony Club by BrewDog a real hell of a choice at a bar. There are few beers knocking about right now even at higher strengths that for me can match this for its impressiveness. Kudos GB, Croozer truly is stylin’ and profilin’. And, I am happy to eat this giant plate of humble pie, as long as I can have a Croozer on the side.