Food & drink

Craft beer: Sláinte, Tom, and thanks for the Mourne Mountains memories

 Tom Ray can be proud of his contribution to Mourne Mountains Brewery
Paul McConville

MUCH like the way Inuits have a bazillion words for snow in their language, there must be endless names for lager in Bavaria.

Running the full range from straw to black in colour, lager probably comes out of the kitchen tap in Munich, such is its omnipresence.

Below the kitchen, you'll probably find the cellar, which could be where Bavarians keep their 'kellerbier' or cellar beer.

Kellerbier is a style of lager which is unpasteurised, lending it quite yeasty flavours.

Like most Bavarian styles, it's rooted in history but the one I encountered in a Beer52 box recently was made by modern Munich brewer.

Roomies Munich Kellerbier clocks in at 4.9 per cent and in keeping with the style is a deep amber, almost reddy, colour.

It has a strong, malty backbone too like all good kellerbiers and a slight, burnt caramel sweetness with delicate, earthy hop flavours.

A refreshing lager with a more depth of flavour than you would expect from the style.


"You have to talk to Tom, his passion for beer really shines through when he's talking."

That was the message Graham, the then Mourne Mountains marketing guy, sent me when I was trying to find out more about the new brewery that had just popped up down the road from me.

He wasn't wrong. When I eventually accepted the invitation to pop into the Mourne Mountains Brewery in Warrenpoint's Milltown Industrial Estate, I was there for the guts of two hours, chewing the fat with head brewer Tom Ray, extolling the virtues of his German wheat beer which he lamented that nobody else drank.

There were other great beers in those early days though. Red Trail, a red IPA, and East Coast IPA, to name a couple. Another was Mourne Mist, which I claimed had cured my lager aversion.

In a neat bit of symmetry, almost six years later, Tom's blog on the Mourne Mountains website announced the brewing of a new batch of Mist, before quietly slipping in the news of his own departure from the brewery.

The quiet, unassuming but passionate Englishman will be sorely missed but is leaving the brewery in good hands with Gareth McGivern responsible for some of the delicious hop bombs and juicy pales which have flown out of the brewery over the last couple of years.

Tom can be rightfully proud of building the brewery in 'the Point' into one of the most consistent around.

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