Craft Beer: Dot Brew's 4Yr Old Barrel Aged Wild Raspberry ale worth the wait
THE beginning of the GAA Championship or the crack of leather on willow used to signal the start of the summer, but the last few years has played havoc with our sense of seasons and time in general.
While we can hope that that mantra the 'April showers bring forth May flowers' becomes true, we may have to console ourselves with the notion that there's really no such thing as summer beer or winter beer – just good beer and, well, not so good beer.
Take the fruit lambic so perfected by the Belgians, but ambitiously adopted here in Ireland by Galway Bay offshoot Land and Labour and now the folks at Dot Brew in Dublin.
It has the light and fruity flavours which would go down well on a blazing hot summer's day, but we don't too many of those here, so it's always best to savour these fine beers when you can. I mean, some might find a chocolate imperial stout a little too heavy at times, but they are a nice little tipple all year round.
And so to Dot Brew's 4Yr Old Barrel Aged Wild Raspberry ale. For this type of beer, it's often as much about the journey as it is about the destination.
While Dot where firing out their pales and IPAs, among other styles, over the last four or five years, this beer was taking its sweet time.
The first step was to age an ale in bourbon barrels for four years, extracting those smooth, woody characteristics before another two months of maturation in a stainless steel barrel with a whole of raspberries to keep it company.
About a fifth of the beer was then made up of a relatively spritely four-month-old ale, with the whole concoction expertly blended together.
It's a patient, yet rewarding process because the result is a beer which pours a dark, ruby red colour in the glass and fires off rich, jammy aromas.
They raspberries are quite prominent on the palate, but the sourness isn't overly severe. There's low-level acidity and a smooth mouthfeel, but there's little hint of the 7.2 per cent abv as it slips down very easily.