A Better Irish Brew
Who among us hasn't stood in a nostalgia-laden Irish bar in far flung corners and asked for the ubiquitous Pint, only to tut-tut on the hapless barman's pouring technique and the inferior taste? But how many of us can actually back up the facade of travelling Irish beer expert? If your knowledge of Irish beer is limited to the usual suspects poured down your local, there's never been a better time to expand your horizons and sample the genuine article.
During the past five years, Ireland has undergone a quiet revolution in micro-brewing, with a steady increase in the availability of some truly wonderful beer. As with the rise in popularity of small food producers, micro-brewing is gaining an ever-expanding following. No longer confined to specialist off licences and brew pubs, supermarket shelves are now stocking an impressive range of domestic micro beers in addition to the long-standing German stalwarts, such as Erdinger and Warsteiner.
Until very recently, the industry was dominated by pioneers (in the strictly drinking capacity, of course) with a passion for producing high quality craft beers. Unfortunately, high rates of excise duty meant that many of these beers were destined for the UK market, where they enjoyed a much friendlier tax regime. Thankfully, this is all changing, due to a halving of the excise duty on beers produced by micro breweries. The change, announced in the Budget by [Irish Finance Minister] Brian Cowen - a man who obviously appreciates a fine beer - represents a promising future for Irish drinkers who can look forward to sampling a wealth of liquid delights.
So what is on offer to the more discerning drinker? Well, once you experience the taste of genuine Irish stout, it may be difficult to settle for the black stuff served in the local pub. Real Irish stout should have a fantastic body, with a roasted taste of hop bitterness, finished off by a bitter-sweetness. It's a drink to savour and as an accompaniment to seafood, sheer heaven! Irish beers and ales provide a wealth of interesting tastes and can easily rival the best of the classic beers from Belgium or Germany. Just as seasonal food is now de-rigueur in culinary circles, seasonal beer really is worth waiting for. Typical samples from Ireland's micro-breweries include such gems as a summer red ale, Oktoberfest wheat beer or Christmas stout.
If you want to enjoy the ultimate micro beer experience, a visit to a brew pub is a must. You are likely to imbibe the freshest draught beer, surrounded by the sights and smells of a working brewery. In a country which
once had a brewery in every town, there are now fewer than fifteen, but your
While Irish micro breweries may never threaten the dominance of the bland
big-names, they are happily serving an expanding niche with unrivalled
diversity and taste. The only question that remains is: are you going for a
A Better Irish Brew - Three to Taste
1. Curim Celtic Beer (Carlow Brewing Company, 4.3% vol.) An Irish wheat beer to rival the German masters. This is the perfect summer
2. D'Arcy's Dublin Stout (Dublin Brewing Company, 4.7% vol.)
3. 1798 Revolution Red (Dublin Brewing Company, 4.7% vol.)