Craft Beer: Mourne Mountain’s Banik Pilsner a refreshing way to banish January blues

Mourne Mountain brewery's Banik Pilsner
Mourne Mountain brewery's Banik Pilsner Mourne Mountain brewery's Banik Pilsner

AS JANUARY enters its 245th day – or that’s certainly what it feels like anyway – it can be hard to shake off the effects of what psychologist (and now opportunistic marketing types) have labelled Blue Monday.

No, this has nothing to do with the New Order tune but rather that day in January that is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. It’s far enough away from Christmas for all the festive fervour to have drained away and not quite close to pay day for you to set about addressing the worst of you Yuletide excesses.

Those in the know advise a few things to beat the January blues – and let me state at this juncture that I do not advise drinking lots of beer to be one of them. One way of banishing the blues is to get outside, breathe in the fresh air and get the blood pumping with a brisk walk.

Luckily – although, to my shame, I rarely cash in this piece of good fortune – I live not too far from the Mourne Mountains, where a new-year skip up Slieve Martin to the Big Stone can be the perfect prescription.

Sampling the crisp, clean Mourne air is great for the soul, but it’s not the only crisp thing to come out of those parts recently. I was gifted a bottle of Mourne Mountain’s Banik Pilsner from the good people at the Warrenpoint-based brewery, which will celebrate its fifth anniversary in 2020.

As I've said before, lagers and pilsners are dicey ground for small brewers because they will be instantly compared to the stack 'em high, sell 'em low stuff you get in supermarkets. But that doesn’t mean intrepid brewers aren’t willing to give it a go, and in the case of Banik Pilsner, we can all be delighted that Mourne Mountains did.

This is a sensational pilsner from start to finish. Brewed very much in the Czech tradition, it uses Hana barley malt from the Moravian area of Bohemia, giving a crispy and biscuity flavour. There's a light, herby flavour from the Saaz hops, and even a hint of spice, but the late addition of New Zealand hops gives it a clean, zesty and floral feel at the end.

With so much going on, it’s even more surprising that it has such a light mouthfeel. It’s beautifully crafted and as refreshing as a hike in the Mournes.