With the festive season hurtling towards us, we look back at a year’s worth of Hop Press Tipples of The Fortnight, one of which will soon be crowned our Golden Tipple!
Micil 44% Poitín
Padraig O Griallais is the fifth generation of his family to make poitín - and the first to do it legally! Using an 1800s recipe that has been passed down from father to son, the former Connemara school teacher has set up micro-distilling shop at the back of the Oslo, which used to house the Galway Bay brewery. Despite weighing in at a hefty 44% ABV, there’s a real complexity of flavour with the bogbean botanicals giving Micil both gin and vodka-like characteristics.
Brehon Brewhouse 5% Ulster Black Oatmeal Stout
Fighting the good fight on his Monaghan farm since 2014, Seamus McMahon and head brewer Phil Bizzell do their beery thing in a renovated shed behind the milking parlour. If that sounds romantic, just wait till you try their Ulster Black, a traditional Oatmeal Stout, which has a burning peat aroma and a dark chocolate and coffee finish.
JJ’s 5.8% Abbey Stout
While others condition theirs in whiskey barrels or reach for the coffee, chili or ginger, this County Limerick micro’s stout is just a good old-fashioned session beer with subtle hints of fruit and biscuit.
Torc Brewing 4.2% Wheat Beer
Slightly cloudy in appearance and fizzier than your average pint/halflitre, this is a bit of a Marmite beer in that you’ll either love or hate the big, sour bang of citrus provided by the orange peel. Belonging firmly in the former category, it’s top of our list of curry accompaniments and has a sister Amber Ale that’s also worth hunting down.
Four Provinces 4.2% The Hurler
Leaving the barley wines, cherry sours and chili infused stouts to others, this Crumlin brewery has decided to go the mainstream session beer route and is doing the job supremely well. Their traditional 5% IPA, The Piper, is a lovely drop with caramel and raisin notes and a big whiff of grapefruit – see, we’ve got all the technical terms! – but is narrowly outpointed by this unfiltered copper coloured ale, which has a lovely Digestive-y biscuit bite.
Metalman 4.3% Orange Is The New Black
While residents of Litchfield Penitentiary might have difficulties getting their hands on it, those of you not serving time in a federal facility can now get Orange Is The New
Black in cans as well as on draught. This highly sessionable dark ale gets its citrus zing from the sundried Italian orange peel, which is added at the conditioning stage. Put all thoughts of sickly sweet alcopops out of your mind; this is a full-bodied beer for grown-ups that reveals its complexities as you work your way down the glass.
Dot Brew 8.5% Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
There seems to be a competition amongst Irish brewers to see who can come up with the biggest, boldest stouts. The latest entrant into this crowded market is Dot Brew, a former gypsy that’s now found a permanent home in the Dolphin’s Barn area of Dublin. At €9 for a 500ml bottle you expect something special, and we weren’t disappointed as the first sip yielded big chocolate and dried fruit flavours. Definitely a sipper rather than a gulper, it has a super-creamy mouthfeel and a whiskey-ish aroma from those single malt barrels.
Whiplash 5.5% Scaldy Porter
While Hop Press loves its curveballs, it’s hard to beat a classic beer style done supremely well. Cajoled, harassed and frankly bullied into buying a bottle by the folk in Stoneybatter’s Drink Store – that sort of tough love is A-OK with us! – we cracked open the wonderfully named Scaldy Porter whilst watching Hull v. Derby in the Championship Play-Offs. While the Rams fell apart, the beer couldn’t have been any more robust with strong chocolate and coffee notes.
St. Patrick's Distillery 100% Potato Vodka
Keogh’s Crips aren’t the only ones putting the not so humble Irish potato to impeccable use with around 250 spuds going into each bottle of this super-smooth 40% vodka from these crafty Corkonians. We’ve been enjoying it Soviet-style straight from the freezer, but it’s also great in cocktails with a sweetness and almost creamy mouthfeel that you don’t always get with other vodkas.