Craft Beer: Put Kinnegar's Donegal Lager and Larkin's Helles to the barbecue test
REMEMBER at the start of the lockdown when toilet roll was worth more than gold? Then, you couldn't get your hands on flour as everyone thought they could bake their way out of isolation, with rationing cards and powdered egg only round the corner.
Of course, the worst fears around food shortages haven't been realised, but there are still some items which are like the proverbial hen's teeth. As we all find ourselves starting to love our garden a lot more than we used to a couple of months ago, all of its imperfections start to announce themselves a little more loudly and that fence starts to weep for a lick of paint. Well, it'll have to wait, I'm afraid, as fence paint has now become the toilet roll of late spring.
Still, you can still enjoy the garden, unpainted fence and all, and many are even firing up the barbecue again and enjoying the sunshine. To me, lager has always been the ultimate in-the-garden-with-an-incinerated-burger-on-a-sunny-day kind of beer, and even though I haven't dusted down the grill yet, I have been enjoying some top quality Irish lagers of late.
Donegal-based brewers Kinnegar have dipped their toe (not literally you'll be glad to know) in lagers before, including their first stab at the style when I was lucky enough to be on the Kinnegar Academy course which produced the brewery's first lager Finally a few years ago. It was a big malty ode to the Bavarian and Vienna lagers of central Europe while Donegal Lager – or DL as it's been shortened, presumably to benefit from the stealth marketing ploy of having the name slapped on every car registration plate in the county – is a much lighter affair.
It's straw coloured and crystal clear in the glass. There is a very light, malty taste with a hint of herbal tones and a sweet finish. It's a very uncomplicated beer which will go down easily and can wash down a few sausages and burgers at 4.5 per cent. To add to the feel-good factor, Kinnegar have said that they will donate €5 from every case of DL sold to the Donegal Hospice.
Another leisurely lager is Larkin's Helles, which uses Bavarian lager yeast and Munich malt, so you can expect a nice malty, German-style lager with this one. There's a little snatch of pepper and herbal tones tone to it and it is a full-bodied beer which clocks in at 5 per cent.