The long awaited, second Irish Craft Brewer tasting session took place on the 19th of July, in the Bull and Castle Beer Hall. With almost 30 people in attendance, I am very glad that it took place in this excellent pub and not in my kitchen, like the last one.
This is a great venue and the fact that were were allowed to hold this event there speaks volumes about the management and their commitment to their customers and quality beer.
After the first gathering of the Irish Craft Brewers I was expecting some high quality, craft brewed beer and I can tell you, I was not disappointed.
I, like many others, started the night out with a pint of Blarney Blond, the logic being that Galway Hooker, or any other strongly flavoured beer, would ruin the palate, making the more delicately flavoured wheat beers, up first, seem bland by comparison.
The BeerNut first described Galway Hooker with "The makers claim 'Irish Pale Ale' is a new genre, which I was a bit sceptical about but now I can see where they're coming from. This has a touch of the caramel of the classic Irish red, but also a whole lot of the green, vegetal hops of the textbook IPA."
This distinct vegetal hops and hint of caramel I claim marks out many of the new Irish ales. Other wiser heads from Beoir disagreed but, showing an impressive resolve to both prove me wrong and to drink beer, they agreed to come along for a blind test.
The post-mortem of the first Kit/Extract/All-Grain blind comparison decided that the brewer's proficiency with the various methods was affecting the outcome. It was therefore decided that for round 2 there would be three different brewers working to roughly the same recipe, each with a track record of successfully producing good beer via a particular brewing method. The result would be three beers in the same style made under optimum conditions with only the respective merits of their method of production to set them apart, thereby allowing the method itself to be judged, not merely the beer.
Since there was an old Brupaks Black Moor Stout kit to hand, stout was the chosen style for the test. The presumed poor condition of the unmade kit would serve to highlight one of the issues faced by kit beers: low turnover of stock and resulting oxidised off-flavours. As the kit expert, IrishPartyAle agreed to make this up, to an OG of 1.043. I made a similarly simple dry stout using dry malt extract, OG 1.043, and sbillings produced an all-grain version at 1.041.
The names IV, V and VI were assigned at random, and the tasting panel assembled on 28th July to try the beers blind.
But, as I said, all did not go according to plan.
Experiment: To compare the flavour profiles generated from different brewing methods
The premise for this experiment is to investigate the link between how beers rate in flavour when produced in three different methods
a) Kit beer, where hopped liquid extract is fermented (brewing by numbers)
b) Extract beer, where Dried Malt Extract (DME) is boiled with hops and then fermented (brewing with the training wheels on)
c) All-Grain beer, where malt is extracted from grain, before being boiled with hops and fermented ("proper" brewing).
Which method of making beer produces the highest rated beer in a blind taste test?