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?
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.
There is absolutely nothing worse as a beer drinker than the promises made on a label or blurb on a brewer’s website of what a beer is, only to open it & discover you’ve been had. New England IPA’s are the current IPA beer trend of the moment, so when O’Hara’s Brewery from Carlow released one called ’51st State’ that was inspired by the New England IPA style (great name choice), I was eager to give it a try. Oh eagerness, how you mock me.
Ever since one Mark Nixon left Trouble Brewing to head out Howth Way to take over the brewhouse at young brewery, Hope Beer, the man has been relentless in his creation of special beers. As someone who has followed this young man’s progress very closely, & seen him become one of the elite group of young head brewers in Ireland who are at the vanguard of Irish craft beer. And experiencing the creations from these young, hungry brewers has been a priviledge, as has picking their brains. As Summer 2017 starts creeping way, Hope have staked a claim to ‘beer of the Summer’. And they’re one hand on the flag with it.
Black Donkey Brewing blew me away with the first European Saison that I actually gave a damn about, ‘Sheep Stealer’. That is a testament to not only them, but Richard’s love of Belgian styled beers – which I am not a fan of at all. Their ballsy choice of style for their primary beer is something to be cheered vigorously. Richard doesn’t do the whole American-styled beers thing, despite the fact his passion for craft beer was massively influenced by the U.S. scene during his time there. So, when they release an American styled IPA, needless to say my interest was piqued.
Lager. A beer variety that until very recently I have had little to no love for. Some craft lagers have grown on me, but they won’t replace my pale ale or my IPA as my go-to beer style. Until now. And it would have to be Stone Brewing to do that. Welcome to WussieLife. Who you callin’ Wussie?
Everybody’s doing a brand-new beer, now. Come on baby, do the Commotion Lotion. I know you’ll get to like it if you give it a chance now. A chug-a chug-a motion like a railroad train, drink it nice and easy, now, don’t lose control. A little bit of bucky and a lot of soul. This beer from Ciudad del Wexico from the minds ofsome bret loving cheeky fuckers is full balls. FULL. BALLS.
Pale Ales are a definite go-to beer style for me when I just want something drinkable, fruity & not too taxing. And I like them pale. And I mean PALE. No amber hues, no caramel, no burned orange. Pale. Otherwise, what’s the friggin’ point of them? So when Whiplash’s Alex Lawes says he’s working on a new Pale Ale that’s proper pale. I’m proper interested.
I am a hop addict. I love bitter & twisted IBU trips. I love super spicy food too. I love the cold sweat, sinus clearing, drippy eyed feeling from a spicy chili. The first big bombastic mouth-smashing beer I ever had was Stone’s Arrogant Bastard, & I almost choked. But, I found ‘my beer’. Then came Hardcore IPA, hich was like getting smooshed by Mike Tyson square on the jaw from one of those% hellacious uppercut. The, in 2014 Palate Wrecker from Green Flash appeared in my hands from a friend who came back from SD. I was excited. Scared. Tense. Then, my tastebuds needed CPR, & it was awesome. Five years on, Palate Wrecker made its way to my door once again. And it was glorious.
BrewDog & lager as a style have somewhat of a tumultous relationship. Part of the issue is their general unhappiness with how their lagers either turn out for them or are received. Whether it was 77 lager, This is Lager, or the newest iteration, Kingpin, BrewDog it seems remain committed to creating the perfect lager.
From the Death’s Head Pony Club came forth what today I still call BrewDog’s most technically accomplished beer, Dead Pony Club. Like 5AM Saint, it too had a rough ride into the rebranding of 2015 to Dead Pony Pale Ale (jesus, what were they thinking??) to come out the other sideas the hop blasting 3.8% John Wayne of their beer catalogue. This is not just a trip back down memory lane for a beer I haven’t had in close to a year. It’s a trip back to look at a beer that changed how I wanted to brew beers for myself.