Murphy’s – Another great Irish stout!

This week, I thought I’d indulge in a bit of nostalgia and write about a beer which takes me back to my days as a student. For my masters’ degree, I moved to Ireland’s second largest city, Cork, which is situated right in the south of the country. Cork is a fantastically vibrant city with a great range of traditional pubs,  historic food markets and a plethora of festivals throughout the year.

Cork is also home to one of the country’s oldest universities, University College Cork, better known as ‘UCC’. It was during my years as a history student at UCC, that I first discovered and developed a lasting love for Murphy’s stout.

‘Less bitter’
When you think Ireland and stout, the first thing to come to mind is probably going to be Guinness right? Murphy’s doesn’t have nearly the same level of international brand recognition as its long-time competitor, but anyone who’s had a couple of pints of Cork’s own ‘black stuff’ will tell you that it has a distinctive flavour which puts it in league with the very best of stouts.

Noticeably less bitter than Guinness, Murphy’s is smooth with a nutty, roasted flavour and an aftertaste which has hints of coffee and caramel. Like any good beer, the pour is all important and if done by a bartender who knows his craft, you’ll get a thick, creamy, bubble-free white head which will last most of the way down the glass.

Murphy's (SMALL)

You will find Murphy’s on tap in any truly authentic Cork pub, as well as in plenty of others outside of the city. A personal favourite of mine from my student days was Tom Barry’s on Barrack Street. It’s a bit out of the way if you’re only visiting the city centre, but during my university days, this pub was a favourite haunt for students and lecturers alike.

I’ve struggled to find Murphy’s stout on sale anywhere outside of Ireland. Last week however, I was delighted to see it on sale in my local Asda and so I decided to pick up a few cans for old times’ sake!

Murphys (3 cans)

Murphy’s stout – on sale at Asda!

 

UCC campus

University College Cork (UCC) – my old alma matter

UCC (bridge)

UCC campus

Bath Ales: Gem Amber Ale

The first thing to grab me about this beer was the aroma. Allowing my nose to linger for a few seconds, I was reminded of freshly made toffee or even candy floss. After it settles in the glass, the colour is deep rusty red.

The mouthfeel is quite smooth, medium bodied and moderately carbonated. After the first sip, Gem Amber Ale is quite bready and smokey, with again that hint of toffee coming through.  The taste is to some extent similar to that of a Belgian brown ale; a beer to be sipped and enjoyed slowly rather than a session beer.

The finish was mildly bitter and hoppy.

Bath Ale Gem (SMALL)

Bath Ales: Gem Amber Ale

Bath Ales produces a good selection of other beers from bitters to porters to stouts. Looking forward to giving some of these a try soon!


Cheers!

 

Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout

I’ve always associated stout with winter. There’s nothing quite like sipping a creamy pint of stout sitting in front of a roaring fire with a gale howling outside the window.

However, my good friend Peter picked up this particular number for me during his recent holiday in Yorkshire and I was curious to brake it open and give it a go. Stouts are not everyone’s beer of choice. Fortunately, I do enjoy a stout; might have something to do with being Irish?

The first thing that will strike you about Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout is the aroma. When I closed my eyes and allowed my nose to hover for a few seconds, the first thing that came to mind was hot chocolate or a rich flavoured coffee. After it settles in the glass, the colour is deep dark and the head is frothy and brown like the sea foam you’ll find washed up on a beach in rough stormy weather.

The mouthfeel is smooth and silky and the taste is quite biscuity and sweet; you can definitely taste that oatmeal coming through. The aftertaste is mildly bitter, with a hint of coffee and even a mild note of whiskey. All in all, this is a well-rounded and tasty stout and definitely worth a go.

Cheers!

Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout (SMALL)

Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout

Beer of the week: Scarborough Fair IPA

Here in the UK, we’re enjoying an unusually hot August Bank Holiday weekend, with barbecue and beach enticing weather. Unfortunately for me, I neither own a barbecue nor live near a beach. I did however stock up on some great beers to see me through the 28C of summer heat. For this week’s brew review, I thought I’d share my thoughts on one of those beers, a tasty IPA from Scarborough in the lovely county of Yorkshire.

I came across Scarborough Fair IPA last week in my local supermarket. As I’ve not tried any beers from Wold Top Brewery before, I was keen to give this one a go. After pouring it and letting it settle for a bit, I got a rich hazy golden colour. The aroma was sweet and floral, with a hint of toffee, but not quite as pronounced as some other IPAs I’ve come across recently.  On first sip, this beer was quite pleasant on the tongue; velvety and moderately carbonated, with a smooth overall texture. The taste was refreshing, distinctly hoppy and citrusy with a faint note of honey in there somewhere. The aftertaste was considerably less bitter than what you may expect for an IPA; for me, this was one of the memorable features of this beer.

All in all, Scarborough Fair is a decent, tasty, refreshing IPA. Perhaps not a session beer, but one I’d certainly have again.

I’m eager to discover some of the other brews that Yorkshire has on offer; suggestions most welcome!

Cheers!

Scarborough IPA (SMALL)

Scarborough Fair IPA

Beer of the week: Harbour Antipodean IPA

Cornwall flagFatla genes (how are you)? 

Have you ever come across the Cornish language? Perhaps not. It is part of the Celtic family of languages along with Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Manx and Breton. This week’s brew review looks at a tasty IPA from the Cornwall region on the south-west coast of England. In addition to being known for its picturesque landscapes and its tasty treats like Cornish pasties, Cornish fairings and clotted cream, Cornwall’s reputation for excellent beers is also growing rapidly.

Harbour Antipodean IPA
Brewed by the Harbour Brewing Co which was established in 2012, Antipodean IPA is a solid addition to the ever growing community of IPAs. After pouring it (carefully) into the glass, I allowed my nose to linger for a moment and immediately detected a rich aroma with notes of various tropical fruits. Once it settled, there was a deep, hazy amber/gold colour topped off with a creamy head.

After my first sip, my initial impression was that of a medium bodied, slightly bready, slightly smokey IPA. As I worked my way down the glass, my taste buds began to concur with my nose and I picked up on all those wonderful tropical fruity flavours – mango, lime and lemon to name a few.

Harbour IPA (can on glass)

The aftertaste is mildly bitter, as you’d expect for a good IPA. All in all, this is a solid IPA and well worth a try if you manage to come across it.

This is the first brew I’ve tried from Harbour Brewing Co but I’m eager to sample some of the others they have on offer!

Harbour IPA

Yeghes da! (Cheers)

International Beer Day!

Friday  was International Beer Day.  Being the curious sort that I am, I consulted Google and was intrigued to learn that this auspicious occasion was first celebrated in 2008, almost ten years ago. As of 2017, International Beer Day is now marked annually on the first Friday of August in over 200 cities around the globe.  Never one to miss an important occasion – particularly one which involves beer – I decided to celebrate International Beer Day with a selection of brews from around Europe.

BBNo 14|04 – Tripel
British German flag (small)OK, this one sounds a bit more like a Star Wars droid than a beer. R2-D2’s second cousin maybe?

The cryptic name is apparently down to a very logical numbering system instituted by the brewer (Brews by Numbers), in which the first number denotes the style, whilst the second denotes the recipe. Makes sense I suppose.

I’ve not come across anything from Brews by Numbers (BBN) before now, but I discovered this one last week in an excellent little shop called Royal Mile Whiskies in Bloomsbury St. in central London.

BBNo 14|04 is an abbey style beer brewed in London with a delicate flavour which is, according to the brewer, down to the addition of the German hop Hallertau Blanc. After pouring it carefully into the glass, allow your nose to hover for a moment or two and you’ll detect a strikingly refreshing fruity aroma. In terms of appearance, BBNo 14|04 very much looks the part of an abbey beer with a decent frothy head and a deep, hazy, golden colour.

The flavour is slightly malty and bready, with hints of various different fruits and herbs; there’s plenty going on here to tantalise your taste buds. It has a slightly bitter, citrus aftertaste. All in all, this is a solid take on an abbey ale. I’d certainly have it again and I’m eager to try its sister brews.

14-04 Tripple (small pic)

BBNo 14|04

R2D2 and beer

R2-D2 approves of this beer

 

To Øl Blossom
Flag-Denmark
Skål (cheers)! In the same shop in Bloomsbury St, I came across a Danish wheat ale called To Øl Blossom. True to its name, this beer has an unmistakably floral taste and aroma.

It is crisp and refreshing with a slightly metallic, bitter aftertaste. It has a hazy amber colour and keeps a frothy white head right to the end of the glass.

To Ol (small)

To Øl Blossom –  if florists did beer…..

 

Cheers!

Beers of the week – Telenn Du & Sant Erwann

Flag_of_BrittanyDemat dit (hello)!

Continuing with the Breton theme of last week’s post, I thought this week I’d share my views on two more brews from the Brittany region – Sant Erwann and Telenn Du.


Telenn Du

Hmm…. dark ale. Not normally my first choice of beers. With such a distinctive name however, I decided to take a chance and try Telenn Du, a dark buckwheat beer brewed by Brasserie Lancelot. Unlike other dark ales which I’ve tried, Telenn Du is actually quite light and easy to drink. In terms of flavour, there’s quite a bit going on, with notes of coffee, chocolate, spices and caramel. Despite my initial hesitancy, I was quite impressed with this beer and would certainly have it again.

20170719_164607

Telenn Du

 

Me with Telenn Du beer

Enjoying my Telenn Du in Concarneau

Sant Erwann blonde
With a deep golden amber colour and a shallow frothy head, Sant Erwann blonde was one of the more memorable beers I encountered during my week in Brittany.  Brewed by Brasserie Artisanale Du Trégor which is situated in the Côtes-d’Armor department, Sant Erwann can be found widely in bars and restaurants in the towns and villages around Brittany. It has a deep, distinctive aroma of yeast and herbs and a flavour to match. Overall, the taste is quite bready and sweet with notes of banana and spices. A good beer to go with a barbecue – as I discovered!

P1280554

Sant Erwann blonde

Yec’hed mat! (cheers!)