Devil's Washtub – remember to drink it while you can
I LEARNT a valuable lesson when I pitched up on the third day of the three-day Belfast Beer and Cider Festival at the Ulster Hall in November. After browsing the pre-festival list, I'd earmarked a few beers I definitely wanted to try. Top of the list was Lacada's Devil's Washtub, a beer the Portrush-based brewery had billed as a ‘north coast IPA' (see what they did there?).
Arriving on the final day of the festival, I missed a chance to sample what had proved to be a popular brew and therefore been drained by those clever enough to drink early and often.
Still, I did get to have a great natter with some of the good folks from the Lacada collective. The brewery is a co-operative set-up and has many proud members. They boast a core range consisting of Giant's Organ IPA, Sorley Boy's Stash Golden Ale and Stranded Bunny Porter. They also produce a series of specials throughout the year, of which Devil's Washtub is the latest, which I finally got my hands last week.
It's a beer much in the style of a Cascadian Dark Ale or Black IPA. It has a very dark, almost opaque look to it, nearly as black as a stout, with a fluffy off-white head. From that exudes a bready aroma with hints of chocolate. The first gulp delivers an ever so slightly creamy mouthfeel with light carbonation. All the flavours that you'd expect from a dark ale or stout are there: roasty, chocolate and a huge hunk of malt.
There's also a nuttiness to it and a short, sweet finish. It was a bit of chore to pull out those fruity and floral notes which would earn it its IPA label. They are in there, but could be much more pronounced. Still, this stands on its own merits as a fine ale, a satisfying and relaxing sup.
Lacada recently held their first-ever taproom to showcase their well-crafted beers, following in the footsteps of another co-operative brewery, Boundary in east Belfast. Taprooms are a great way for brewers to connect directly with their drinking public but require special events licenses each time a brewery wants to hold one. Local beer producers have been campaigning for a change in licensing laws to allow them to regularly sell their produce on site. Here's hoping whoever gets returned at Stormont can throw local brewers a bone.