Craft Beer: A rosemary brew from Bellaghy and a sweetish nod to summer's fading

Heaney's Hey Rosemary! Join Our Club pours a light amber, almost orange colour and is murky in the glass
Paul McConville

I DON’T really claim to be a culinary expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I think I make a pretty decent Sunday roast. One of the components I am most proud of is my roast potatoes and as well as boiling them for a bit, giving them a good old rattle in the saucepan and then whacking them in the oven for the best part of an hour, I like to throw a bit of rosemary in there too.

Rosemary is great herb for cooking, whether with a nice leg of lamb or a hearty beef stew, but I’d never really heard of it being used in beer until I snapped up a can of one of the latest offerings to come out of the Heaney Brewery, which now has its feet well under the table in Bellaghy.

Herby flavours in beers are nothing new, although this one wears the herb content on its sleeve – well, on the can, to be more precise.

Hey Rosemary! Join Our Club is a 5.7 per cent rosemary IPA whose name hints at another predominant flavour in this beer.

It pours a light amber, almost orange colour and is murky in the glass. There are sweet aromas of tangerine and orange, as well as a hint of the rosemary and a slight piney smell too.

The predominant flavour on the palate, though, is orange and citrus fruits and the rosemary is subtle but presents itself in a herby and piney finish to the beer. It’s nicely balanced between fruit flavours and bitterness and quite crushable, which basically means it’s not a million miles away from an orange-based soft drink.

As you would expect, this would go well washing down a bit of roast lamb, although I could equally see me munching a Terry’s Chocolate Orange with this one.

Long Shadows is a nod to the shorter days and longer nights and is a kind of dark ale/porter hybrid, leaning more towards the latter. It’s hard to pin down whether the colour in the glass is black or a very, very, very, very dark brown, as Fr Dougal might say.

Anyway, it has the kind of caramel and toffee-like aroma and taste you’d get from a dark ale, but also that coffee and dark bitter chocolate feel of a porter. Either way it’s a nice, cosy beer which clocks in at a warming 6 per cent.

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