Craft Beer: Wicklow-based Larkin's pale ale a very easy drinking, refreshing brew

Larkin's pale ale, hopefully the first of many of the Wicklow brewers' beers to venture north
Paul McConville

A THEME of the Irish craft beer industry in recent years is that it has been an overnight success... years in the making. There have been many home brewers up and down the country beavering away in kitchens and sheds for years and a lot of them have been lucky enough to scale up their operations and get their beers into bars and shops.

There have been fears that the market is becoming crowded and that there are now too many craft brewers all looking for their slice of the pie. However, when you consider that craft beer makes up a miniscule proportion (about 3 per cent at last count) of overall beers sales in Ireland, there is still plenty of room for everybody to thrive, providing the beer is good.

That shouldn't be a concern for one of the newest breweries on the block, Wicklow-based Larkin's. They tick all the boxes for an up-and-coming brewery – sudden career change + homebrewing = brewing for a living now.

Unlike many other breweries, they started off ambitiously focusing on lagers in a bid to show that this oft derided style can be done well. They've pulled that off and have started to spread their wings into pales, IPAs and stouts.

Larkin's have already been causing something of a stir down south for a while now, but have started to creep north and I managed to snap a can of their pale ale at the Drink Link in Newry and immediately regretted only buying one.

It comes in a 440ml can and pours a golden, almost light amber colour and boasts a fluffy white head, which maintains throughout. It's slightly hazy, thanks to the wheat in the malt base which also contains a bit of Vienna malt, which is predominantly found in European-style lagers.

That certainly leads to a smoothness and lightness of mouthfeel. There are subtle, fruity flavours with a little floral hint and there isn't a great deal of bitterness. They've used Lemondrop and Cascade hops, which give it that light, citrusy feel. It's a very easy drinking, refreshing pale, coming in at 4.5 per cent, and hopefully the first of many Larkin's beers to venture north.

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