Craft Beer: Donegal does it again...
THERE are probably every few adults on the northern end of this island of ours who don’t have some formative memories of being dragged up to Donegal during the summer months.
Of course, a calendar was the only proof you had that it was summer, as you’d always have had to cram the odd jumper or two into your suitcase and it wasn’t just the wide-eyed American tourists snapping up the Aran sweaters and tweed jackets from Magee’s.
Summers in Donegal may evoke memories of cold beaches, board games in front of a peat fire in early August and guzzling down a bottle of McDaid’s Football Special, but the county’s beer producers have also made it a destination to sample some of Ireland’s tastiest and most intriguing beer.
Regular readers will know of my affection for the beers of Kinnegar, but Donegal is also home to Otterbank Brewing and Blending.
The full name is important because the Muff-based brewery doesn’t turn hops, water and grain into the drink we love, it also dabbles in the fascinating world of mixed fermentation and blending, the unpredictability of the former leading naturally to the latter.
Although practicing these old-world methods, they also lean towards new world styles and among the results is Mates Rates, a 4.9 per cent tart session IPA, dry hopped with mosaic.
Pouring a murky, amber colour in the glass, there are some sweet and fruity aromas, but it doesn’t take that long for tartness to hit you on first gulp.
It certainly gives it a white wine style sharpness and ushers in crisp citrus notes. But this is an IPA after all, and the stone fruit flavours of apricot and nectarine soon emerge from the sour notes which linger throughout.
It’s a refreshing beer, which went down well during last week’s hot spell, and another Donegal offering hit the spot then as well.
Coming out of Kinnegar’s Brewers At Play series, number 17 is Hefeweizen Radler. At just 3 per cent, it’s a sessionable thirst quencher. A radler is basically a German shandy, and they’ve chucked in some lemon zest to this one to replicate the lemonade flavour.
But there’s more to this than just your regular ‘lager tops’. Using a traditional German wheat base gives it a shazy amber look and smooth mouthfeel. It’s fruity and crisp and given the radler is derived from the German word for cyclist, it’s ideal after a long trip on the bike.