Craft beer: Treat your dad or yourself to a Samuel's for Father's Day
GARY Clarke was a busy man at the recent Belfast Craft Beer Festival. I managed to get a chat with him has he quickly wolfed a sandwich for sustenance into him before return to the Samuel's stall in Custom House Square.
One of the newest breweries on the beat, the origin of Samuel's comes as much from Gary's own experiences in the beer halls of Bavaria than his dad's favourite stool in his favourite bar and a penchant for Kentish ales. His dad is Samuel, by the way, who gives his name to the brewery and also steered a young Gary away from fizzy, macro lagers in is younger days, showing him that beers could have flavour too.
Producing an ale to make his dad proud is the ultimate 'playing the long game' Father's Day prep, but Gary pulled that off with Samuel's Irish Red Ale.
This 4 per cent red ale has a wonderfully comforting biscuity malt, like a freshly baked digestive biscuit. It's a real swirler and sipper, lots of roasty, toffee and caramel flavours with a velvety smooth mouthfeel. It's beautifully crafted example of a traditional style.
The other two beers in the Samuel's core range are a nod to Gary's German beer odyssey. First up is a Helles Lager. It's light and crisp, as you'd expect from a lager, but has that characteristic malt presence of a German-style lager, which gives it a nice bit of body and sets it apart from the mundane mass-produced stuff.
Find the biggest, saltiest pretzel you can, pour this into a big Bavarian beer mug and, boom, it's like being in the Hofbräuhaus in downtown Munich.
Completing the range is a wheat beer which is again heavily influenced by the south German style. It's got a nice haze to it and comes in at 4.5 per cent with flavours of banana and a nice clovey finish.
As wheat beers go, it has quite a light feel to it, it's not overly heavy and there's a sparkling carbonation to it and I feel this is a beer pitched somewhere in between and a kristall weizen and a hefeweizen. It's refreshing but complex and would be a lovely summer wheat beer.
Samuel's has been popping up in off-licences and bars so maybe take a leaf out of Gary's book and treat your dad (or yourself) with a Father's Day brew.