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Cheers for Summer Beers! by Caroline Byrne

All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

 Two of Dublin’s craft brewers have just launched some new beers on the market, perfect summery tipples, in time for what can happily be described so far as a pretty decent summer. Caroline Byrne keeps up with the beer revolution.

Pair of Rascals
Rascal’s Brewing Co. – owned by partners Cathal O'Donoghue and Emma Devlin – released the second and third offering from their Rathcoole based microbrewery, ‘Big Hop Red’ ale and ‘Wit Woo’ Belgian style wit beer, to follow their award-winning ‘Ginger Porter.’
Both new brews have been welcomed by the bitterati as light, balanced and refreshing, with relatively low alcohol for craft beers at 4% in the wit beer and 5% in the red. The latter is a blend of American hops yielding citrus and pine flavours, mellowed by malt flavours of caramel and toffee. The former is a pale wit (wheat) beer brewed with orange peel and coriander, as is the exotic bent of this young brewery, and a soft refreshing number it is too.   
Rascal’s like to mix it up, brewing with pungent, exotic ingredients, and they keep it small so they can keep it interesting. They brew 950 litre batches, which  “allows us to be more experimental,” says O’Donoghue. “Our plan is to brew a variety of seasonal ales and not focus on the core supply as much as other breweries. We want to keep things interesting for the customer and for ourselves, as brewers.”
At the Rascal’s launch #BrewsWePlate matched the beers with: pulled goat kid sliders with daikon, homemade kimchi and bone marrow ketchup; fresh goat’s cheese with apple, coriander and cardamom compote; and buttermilk and honey Carragheen moss shots with fermented blueberries. Check out the range at these good Dublin pubs: Blackbird (Rathmines), The Twisted Pepper (Middle Abbey Street), The Bernard Shaw (Portabello), 57 The Headline (Clanbrassil Street), The Black Sheep (Capel Street), and The Norseman (Temple Bar).

Gypsy Magic
Gypsy brewers Brown Paper Bag Project – from the team behind the brilliant pub L Mulligan Grocer – released two new beers with summer in mind, one with a barbecue-friendly twist. Being a gypsy operation, i.e. moving around to different breweries to brew their beers, BPBP has the ability to brew in different countries, drawing from different local traditions and styles.
New beer number one ‘Vlad the Baker’ – so named because of their friendship with Czech Republic native Vlad Rainis (of Arun Bakery in L Mulligan’s home Stoneybatter) – was brewed in the Czech Republic. As the region is known for its quality lagers, Vlad is an ‘Indian Pale Lager’ made from Czech pilsner grain and summit, simcoe, saaz and Columbus hops – using the “old school practice of decoction mashing”. Unlike typical lagers which are fermented for two weeks or less, this one was fermented in open vats for three months. The result of this labour, and the unconventional hopping, is a robust malty beer with crisp citrus flavours and aromas and satisfying spicy finish.
New beer number two, Shmoake, does exactly what it says on the bottle. It’s deliciously smoky! The beer is a grätzer ale, not too often seen these days: “It’s inspired by the ales once prominent in the Polish town Grodzisk. Shmoake is our interpretation of an obscure beer style on the brink of extinction,” says BPBP creator Colin Hession.
Made from oak smoked wheat malt and pilsner malt, and the lubin and tettnanger hops, the beer is light and refreshing (only 4.7% ABV) with a pleasing smoky bacon character that just begs for a barbecue.
L Mulligan Grocer served the beers with: barbecued corn cobs in hop, fennel and chilli butter; slow cooked wild boar loin w/ beetroot and chorizo slaw in Arun brioche bun; and plum and miso barbecued chicken – but really they’d be good with any barbecue and summers day.

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