In life, it is the simple comfort food that often emanate from your childhood that bring you to your happy place when you need it most. For me, its simple things like sausage, egg & chips, or beans on toast. But, there’s one that for me trumps everything, chunky bitter orange marmalade on toasted & buttered Irish soda bread. It for me is the ultimate guilty pleasure & comfort food. So, when one brewery in Ireland declares they’ve knocked this out in a beer, I’m deeply curious.
Chunky bitter seville-style marmalade isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Firstly, the ‘bits’ (I do not understand people who have an objection to ‘bits’ in juice/jams etc; you’re just fucking wierdos to me, you truly are). Then there’s that citrus bitterness that somehow belies the fact you’re having what is ‘orange jam’, when jams are usually sweet. But, it’s that experience from first cracking open a jar of well-made orange marmalade that is hard to beat. It may also explain to some degree my utter fondness for orange flavours in beer.
And then, there’s Irish soda bread. As an Irishman, this is ‘bread’ above all others. Even as someone who loves breads from far off countries, this is the one I love the most. Toasted on its own with butter, it’s heavenly. So, Wicklow Wolf waltz along with a marmalade & brown bread beer in the style of a stout, & I’m triggered. Not in a bad way, but it’s like that of a small child being told they’re getting an ice-cream with sprinkles. The excitement & giddiness is palpable, & utterly annoying for those around as it’s hard to understand how a man in his late thirties can get that excited.
Cracking open this beer from its an is an INSTANT hit of hot buttered soda bread toasted lathered in marmalade, & it is beyond glorious. I got so excited pouring it, my hands were shaking with child-like giddy excitement as the aroma kept on going. It is unctuous, & intoxicatingly fantastic.
Then there’s that first taste, & it is exactly how it smells; liquified home-made hot buttered Irish soda bread drenched in bitter, thick cut Seville orange marmalade. Normally, as I write these reviews I’m taking my time over the beer, but it is so enjoyable, I’ve smashed the can already. At 5.5% ABV, it’s just swallow-without-chewing-kinda good.
I am so rarely taken aback like this with a beer. Rarely do I find myself so utterly head over heels in love with a beer. There’s been maybe five other beers in the last two years that have made me feel this way; Rascal’s Strawberry Milkshake IPA, Whiplash Drone Logic, Yellowbelly Citra Pale Ale & Brewdog’s Raspberry Popsicle Parade Berliner Weisse.
I really hope to hell this beer sticks around. It really is so bloody interesting & one of those stouts that gleefully goes beyond blowing the bloody doors off. It lays waste to the rulebook like a meteor calling time on the dinosaurs, forcing a complete rethink about how we should go about flavoured stouts. If you’re at AllTech Craft Brews & Food this weekend, & you don’t try this beer – frankly, you’re out of your god damned mind. AND, I’ll go further, if you don’t buy cans of it, you’re beyond help.