Craft beer: Galway Bay push the boat out with Juice Division and Dead Flag Blues

Galway Bay's Juice Division, a FIPA that clocks in at 7.5 per cent
Paul McConville

THERE'S something of an identity crisis going on at Galway Bay at the minute. A few recent releases by the western brewers have really breached the boundaries of styles.

Judging by some of their brews, you think they'd taken over a green grocer's because they've crammed shed loads of fruit into their beers.

First up is Juice Division, which is billed as a fruit IPA (or FIPA if you're a big fan acronyms). It comes in a pint bottle and clocks in at a robust 7.5 per cent.

It pours a very murky amber colour with not much of a head going, probably due to the strength. It has rather a dank look to it and you'd be forgiven for thinking your were about to tackle a classic New England IPA.

The label rather gives the game away, though, when it comes to aroma and taste. It's a fruit IPA with pineapple and passion fruit, we're told. So while some beers have you pulling out whatever tropical smell and flavour you think the hops are giving off, this one really does the job for you.

Aromas of pineapple and passionfruit? Well, that'll be the pineapple and passion fruit then.

And so it follows into the flavour. However, this is still an IPA, right? Well, there is a certain level of sharp bitterness, but it's tricky to know if that comes from the hops or the fruit. It's probably both, with the pineapple in particular giving this a real sour edge. I could best describe this as a sour/IPA hybrid with all the juicy fruit and bitterness of an IPA combined with lip-smacking tang of a sour.

Next up is an actual sour – at least, that's what it says on the can. Dead Flag Blues is a blueberry sour which Galway Bay admit blurs the boundaries between beer and wine.

That's due in no small part to the fact that they've used wine yeast in the fermentation. Coming in a 440ml can and clocking in at 4 per cent, it pours a striking dark red colour in the glass. It's not overly sour but has some lush flavours and is slightly tart.

It's a beer which will divide opinion, not least among sour lovers, but it shows that Galway Bay aren't happy to sit on their well-earned laurels and constantly look to push boundaries.

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