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Craft Beer: Mourne Mountains Brewery event put a face to the brews

Tom Ray of Mourne Mountains Brewery at the Rostrevor Inn
Paul McConville

THE interaction between a brewer and a drinker rarely rises above lifting a can or bottle off an off-licence shelf and reading the label. At various festivals, you may get a chance to have a natter with the man or woman behind the beer you're drinking but, by and large, it's often tricky getting extra info on the beer in your glass.

Mourne Mountains head brewer Tom Ray tried to redress that balance a bit recently with a tasting session for believers and non-believers alike at the Rostrevor Inn in the south Down village. The event was also to launch brewery's newest beer – a collaboration with Banbridge-based Mash Down called Stook.

Stook is an oatmeal rye pale ale and if you think that description seems a bit busy, then try the beer itself. There's a lot going on in what is essentially a session ale, clocking in at a pretty inoffensive 3.6 per cent.

It pours a light amber colour with a lot of haziness going on. There are sticky, fruity aromas which follow through into the flavours. This is where it gets complex, though. There's an initial, chewy, juicy feel before you get a nice refreshing and piney bitterness coming through.

The addition of rye to bill gives it an ever so subtle hint of spice and the oats ensure a pretty smooth mouthfeel.

The beer gets its name from the way sheaves of corn are stacked in fields before being carried off to be milled. There's a distinct summer feel to this beer, and you could put a couple away while lazing on a hay bale or taking in the sunset.

Mourne Mountain's tasting evening also heralded the return of The Wall, the brewery's first foray into the world of double IPAs. They knocked it out of the park last year with this, and the 2019 vintage is possible better.

Crammed full of grapefruit and passion fruit flavours and a big whack of bitterness and a sweet biscuity malt. It is an 8 per center, so best take it easy if you're planning on perching yourself on a hay bale with this one, you may end up using it as a bed for the night.

Tom and Gareth may have gained a few converts in Rostrevor last week and if you are one of them, why not make the trip to Belfast this weekend for the Belfast Craft Beer Festival in Custom House Square.

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