Beer: Lough Gill's Atlantic Surf and King of The Raz
THE jagged rocks, the stony beaches, the sweeping, heather covered hills... the last views of the old country that faded from sight when a generation of immigrants set sail for the new world (you can read that in Liam Neeson's voice if you want).
The west of Ireland isn't so wild these days, although it's still a place where the stunning scenery can serve up a sobering slice of perspective.
It's also a region which has hoisted the craft beer flag and seen it flutter robustly in the Atlantic wind. Galway Bay and White Hag in Sligo are the big beer beasts out here, but another Yeats county brewer is going quite swimmingly too.
Lough Gill have only been brewing for about two years, but in that time, have knocked some belters. Their peat whiskey barrel-aged ‘wee heavy' at the Belfast Beer Festival was a big hit for my but getting your hands on the rest of their range has been tricky until recently.
They've teamed up with Nelson Sauvin to allow thirsty northern drinkers to experience what the folks out west have been supping since 2016. As soon as their cans hit the shelves at the Drink Link in Newry, I bounced over to see what else Lough Gill had to offer.
First up was Atlantic Surf, a 5 per cent saison brewed with bog myrtle – an indigenous plant which was once used as a hop substitute centuries ago.
Here, it is designed to complement the various flavours with herby, slightly resinous notes. Considering they've also chucked in a bit of orange peel and coriander too, there's a fair bit going on here – but it works.
There's a nice fruity flavour to it, a little bit of pepper and some mild bitterness. They've used Belgian yeast to funk it all up a bit and there's medium mouthfeel to it which I like.
I've been disappointed by saisons which promise all the funk and fruit but are too thin to carry it through. This is a real, refreshing guzzler of a saison.
Next up was King of The Raz, a 5.5 per cent raspberry pale ale. It pours almost a cherry mahogany colour and there are the anticipated aromas of raspberries.
The taste isn't a sharp as you'd think and this settles into something more along the lines of a medium-bodied sour. It's still a well put together beer and it caught me at a good time – a Friday night wind-down, when almost half of it was necked in the first go before eliciting a refreshed ‘ah'.
Just like a gust of wind off the Atlantic...