Craft Beer: Two nautically named treasures from north coast brewers Lacada

9 Rubies derives its name from treasure recovered from the wreck of the Girona
Paul McConville

SAMUEL Johnson was obviously a man of many words; he is universally credited with inventing the dictionary. He was also notorious for a sharp biting wit and once remarked about the Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland's prime tourist attraction until those Game of Thrones folks pitched up, that it was “worth seeing, yes; but not worth going to see".

As underwhelming it may be to witness first hand, there are a number of other reasons to travel up to the Causeway coast, not least the local beer on offer. Now, Portrush-based Lacada's beers can be enjoyed without making that long trek up the rugged north coast but if you are from the area, or fancy a trip up there, then you can enjoy their brews at the upcoming Portrush Beer Festival which takes place in the town on October 5 and 6.

It was at that event that Lacada's Raspberry IPA 9 Rubies debuted last year and since then it has been bottled and shipped all around the country to great acclaim.

I naturally had to see what all the fuss was about. 9 Rubies derives its name from treasure recovered from a Spanish Armada ship, the Girona, about 300 yards from the Giant's Causeway, near a place called Lacada Point. Right, so that's the history lesson – what about the beer?

Well, it's classed as a milkshake IPA; however, this isn't the sort of milkshake you're going to get with your Big Mac and fries. It rather refers more to the fact that the beer has been brewed using lactose. This helps give it a nice creamy feel and many breweries have decided that chucking in a load of tasty fruit will, you know, bring all the boys to the yard.

Anyway, they are risky beers to brew because too much lactose and it's all a bit sickly, not enough and it just lacks that creamy feel to accompany the fruit.

Fortunately, 9 Rubies gets it spot on. It's full, creamy and smooth with a sweet, and ever so slightly tart zing from the raspberries before the Citra and Mosaic hops come in to give it a nice bitter finish.

Another Lacada beer that has a nautically themed named (most of them do, to be fair) is Half Hung, named after the mystical Half Hung McNaughton, who was supposedly some fisherman-bothering ghost. Anyway, this is a lot less threatening. It's a 6.2 per cent rye IPA which pours a murky brown colour and beneath all that, there's a lot going on.

There's caramel/toffee malt flavours with a nice warming spice from the rye, a hint of clove, before a bit of stone fruit coming through later.

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