lunes, 22 de octubre de 2012

Probus beer tasting

This is a translation of the Oct, 8th post. 

Last week I wrote tasting notes for an American beer, Magic Hat # 9, which I bought in a Dublin shop called Probus Wines & Spirits, located in the heart of the city (Fenian Street 26/1 Denzille Lane, Dublin 2). After spending some time chatting with the really friendly owner, Paul, he told me they do beer tastings every Thursday and I was more than welcome to come along. So without a second thought, last Thursday (October 5th) I went along with my camera, my note-book, and the desire to try some beers.

The tasting was run by a very nice guy named Alex; he‘s very knowledgeable and wants to share his passion and interact with people, which is a great thing. There were only a few of us there, all really looking forward to getting started, so everything kicked off on time without any problems.

The main idea was to compare two beers of similar styles, so we started by comparing lagers: the first victim was a pilsner named Hop Rocker from Mac’s Brewery in New Zealand; its appearance was a straw/golden color, not cloudy at all, light carbonation, with a small and compact white head which lasted the distance. The aroma was very intense:  tropical fruits, citrus and herbal notes – very clean and crisp. As time passed it started to show a little more graininess. As for the taste, it was medium bodied, bitter (but not much), a lot of fruit (mango, peach), herbal notes, lemongrass. The aftertaste was long and dry with the alcohol very well integrated. Honestly, one of the best pilsners I've ever had, very well made, balanced, very noticeable kiwi hops, but still a pilsner. Easy to drink, interesting, nuanced and an affordable price. By the way, the bottle design is pretty cool. The other lager was Spaten Oktoberfest, perfect for this time of the year, very light in color to be a Märzen, with an herbal aroma of noble hops and slightly sweet. On the palate, however, things changed a bit with much more caramel character (slightly sweet, but not cloying), which is pretty interesting because in the nose seemed the other way around. Average aftertaste, not too long, very easy to drink and alcohol perfectly integrated.

Everything was going well, interesting, new things and good ones, but the third and fourth were two great beers, very interesting and I had never tried them before. First up was Adnams’ Broadside, an English beer from Southwold. The beer itself is a very English Strong Ale: dark copper colored, low head and whitish, slightly carbonated, intense and complex flavor, very fruity, figs, raisins, spices, caramel, medium bodied, tones of dark fruit, sweet, spiced, a curious funky touch and a very long aftertaste. The only negative point: the alcohol notes were not very well integrated. Nevertheless, all things considered, it’s a very interesting and original ale.

So, as one should in a tasting session, we finished with the beer with the highest alcohol content, Old Dan from Thwaites Brewery in Blackburn (Northwest England), which is an Old Ale (quite a similar style to that of the last beer). Old Dan was dark-reddish, slightly carbonated with a small beige-coloured head. The aroma was quite sweet, with notes marzipan and dark fruit dominating; certainly intense and complex, reminiscent of a light barley wine. Again, the flavour profile was very intense and complex (yet easy to drink): very grainy, biscuit, dark fruits, spices; very interesting and full-bodied with a lingering aftertaste.
The event passed without a hitch and with many contributions from the audience – a good thing as it’s always interesting to compare notes. After the tasting session finished we all kept drinking for a while, chatting in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere – a usual thing after these events.

Apparently these tastings are organized almost every week, so if you are in Dublin for a while then make sure you stop here; I’m sure you will enjoy and if not, at least you can buy some good wines and beers and have a chat with people who know about their subject and products, which is always nice.

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