Craft beer: Brewing with exotic fruits
YOU know you are a a fully-fledged parent when you utter some version of the phrase, "When I were a lad...".
For me, it is the widespread availability of various exotic fruits and vegetables which it took me until I became full-grown adult to clap my eyes on.
Grasping a mango in my own hand didn't happen until I had ventured a fair distance inside my 20s and now it's one of those things which triggers my inner Chateau de Chasselas-quaffing Yorkshireman.
Mango plays a big part in modern craft brewing though, whether it is hops which are skilfully used to replicate its aroma and taste, or the inclusion of the fruit itself in a beer.
I stumbled upon such a beer this week when I picked up Brewmaster's Mango and Passion fruit Sour, a collaboration with Get 'Er Brewed. A beer brewed in Dundalk and purchased in Newry, mango (and passion fruit for that matter) has well and truly arrived on Ireland's eastern seaboard.
This one was a welcome drop in a week when we experienced a "We're not used to this heat" kind of spell. It clocks in at guzzling strength of 3.8 per cent and fires off fruity and sweet aromas.
That tropical fruit aroma follows into the flavour and, as advertised, you get that sweet and juicy mango and passion fruit, as well as some tangerine and apricot.
There is a pronounced malt base to it and an overriding tartness throughout, which gives it an almost jammy quality. Think some sort of citrus and tropical jam or marmalade generously heaped on soft fresh bread. It is both refreshing and comforting at the same time.
I grabbed another Brewhouse offering this week from the Drink Link in Newry. This was a double IPA which clocks in, conservatively for the style, at 7.5 per cent.
It pours a slightly dark amber colour in the glass, which suggests a hefty malt content and that certainly comes through on first gulp. Even the initial aroma of toffee and caramel suggests the malt hasn't just come to play on this one.
However, there is a massive piney bitter finish on the first few sips, which prompts an adjustment of the palate slightly. Once it all calms down, this is a nice little sipper, delivery some sweet stone fruit and citrus flavours between the strong malt and bitter finish.