Craft beer: Birthday beers courtesy of Carlingford Brewery taproom
WHEN people find out that my birthday is on September 1, the natural next question was always, 'How did it feel to have to go back to school on your birthday?'
The pedant in me would occasionally point out that I very rarely returned to school on that particular date, but most of the time I play the faux martyr and bravely suck up my imagined woes.
Advancing years mean that not quite the same fanfare is put on birthdays – age is just number, right? (albeit a constantly increasing one).
As my birthday once again fell on a 'school night' this year, I had to wait until the following weekend to be whisked off to the chilled out surroundings of the Carlingford Brewery taproom.
When we got there, we stumbled upon a wedding party sucking the last few dregs of their pints from the Tain Taproom before their main function in the Old Mill.
Nestled neatly in picturesque woods off the main road from Dundalk to Carlingford, the brewery serves up wood-fired pizza and its own freshly brewed beer to wash it down.
I opted for a flight of four beers to kick off with, which included Taaffe's Red Ale, Tholsel's Blonde, Old Mill lager and the on-site exclusive Session IPA (there are plans to can it at some stage, but for now you'll only get it fresh from the brewery tap).
Having already sampled the first two, and written about them in this column, my interest was drawn to the lager and session IPA – both splendid accompaniments to the meat lovers' pizza I ordered.
The IPA was a light amber colour and cloudy in the glass. There's a sweet, biscuit malty running through it with an almost apricot jam vibe to it is as well with a refreshing citrus edge.
It's 3.8 per cent, which means the small flight glassful disappeared in quick smart fashion.
The 4.2 per cent Old Mill lager was a crisp, refreshing affair, so much so that on completing the four-beer flight, I promptly ordered a full pint of it.
It has that kind of honeyed sweetness to it you would get in a Helles, with a smoothness which allows it to slide down fairly easily. There's a pronounced malty backbone, but nothing too intrusive, and an earthy, herby finish.
I even raided their impressive fridge, bringing home a few cans of lager with a selection of their tempting imported range.