Food & Drink

Craft beer: Little and Large

Big Bangin' IPA is a 7.1 per cent IPA from Rye River
Big Bangin' IPA is a 7.1 per cent IPA from Rye River Big Bangin' IPA is a 7.1 per cent IPA from Rye River

Ten years is a long time in anyone’s life, but in the relatively young world of Irish craft beer, it’s practically a generation. You can count on the fingers of one hand the amount of Irish independent breweries who are still operating from a decade ago. 

Some have sadly come and gone during that period while others have successfully grown and reinvented themselves.  

The challenge with any producer over a period of 10 years is to maintain a high standard of quality while branching out in new directions. 

Rye River have been one of Ireland’s most consistent breweries and over the last 10 years, although you may not have always been aware of that. 

They began in 2013 under their own branding but also released a highly-enjoyable range under the playful McGargles banner. 

They are also more recently behind the Craft Beer Co. range as well as the Solas and Grafters brands. 

However, they are now putting the Rye River brand itself front and centre, with many of their excellent beers under that name now available in the SuperValu and Lidl stores in the north. 

I grabbed a couple of 500ml bottles from the fridge (always a good sign of the regard in which a supermarket holds its beer) of my local SuperValu. 

First up was a nod to one of my McGargles favourites – the Big Bangin IPA. 

It clocks in at a hefty 7.1 per cent – not quite in DIPA territory, but packing a considerable punch nonetheless. 

The recipe seems to have been tweaked a bit from the McGargles days, but this remains a beer of great depth. 

It pours a deceptively clear, golden colour with a foamy white head, with the look of a pale lager rather than robust IPA. 

There are a few tropical aromas on the nose but the first gulp delivers a rich toffee malt flavour on the palate. 

As that fades, though those flavours of grapefruit and papaya start to seep through while there is also a piney and resiny vibe to the whole thing and a little bite of spice in there too. 

It is one to take a bit of time over, not so much because of the strength but because of the complexity of flavour.  

There is a certain heaviness to it, so you’ll not get through too many of them but even one is a treat and well worth seeking out. 

If you are looking for something a bit more sessionable, Rye River can also oblige with their Lil’ Bangin’ IPA. 

Coming in at 3.8 per cent, it also pours a clear golden colour, but there’s no deception at play here as it is every bit as light as it looks. 

It still manages to pack a lot of flavour in though, stone fruits and citrus the predominant ones and it slides down rather nicely on a late summer’s day.