Hot Press - - Wildlife -

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.

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