Craft beer: Mash Down hit the target with Moon Beam and Red Spot
MASH Down brewery recently came to my attention as one of the collaborators in Shore, a dulce stout produced by themselves and Lacada.
While the Portrush brewers could legitimately claim to be able to breathe in a lungful of sea air every day, Mash Down are nowhere near the coast, tucked away in Banbridge, Co Down. However, they've been a busy lot in their own right, churning out an inviting core range and with the sun just about peeping out, I grabbed a bottle of their Moon Beam – a raspberry lemon pale ale.
Although strictly a pale ale, it was the beer I came away with from the Drink Link in Newry when I was on the hunt for a sour on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Sour stocks were limited at the time, such is the popularity of this little craft beer goldmine on the Dublin Road heading out of Newry.
Anyway, that gives you a bit of hint as to what's to come. The Moon Beam poured a deep pink colour, with a not inconsiderable amount of fizz. The head didn't linger much, which is usually a sign of a high strength beer, but this only clocked in at 4.5 per cent. But, the proof of the pudding, and all that...
The first gulp throws up a world of flavours, and that tingling carbonation too. The raspberry is pretty pronounced and there's a nice, zesty undertone to it all. It's a touch sour and there's a hint of sherbet too. It would put you in mind of a sour or a souped-up Berliner weisse. There's a nice tang to it and low-level bitterness, probably coming more from the lemon than the hops, but this is a nice, refreshing drop.
Red Spot is Mash Down's stab at a particular favourite of mine – rye ales. A kind of murky autumnal colour in the glass, it keeps its head well, which isn't easy to do these days.
Now my benchmark for a rye ale remains Rustbucket by Kinnegar. Red Spot doesn't have the delicate fruitiness of Rustbucket, but it is beautifully malty and carries that subtle warming spice which a good rye ale should with a nice citrusy, bitter finish.
Mash Down also produce an Irish extra stout called Dark Town which I have yet to get down the hatch, but it's on the to-do list.
Their core range all comes in 500ml bottles and as one of the newest brewers on the scene, they've made a solid start. Well worth keeping an eye out for.