…Continuing our countdown!
9. White Hag: Christmas Ale
It seems new breweries are opening up around Ireland every month. One that came out of the blue, guns blazing, was White Hag from Sligo. At their first Irish beer festival, they launched “Black Boar”, a 10.2% imperial oatmeal stout to critical acclaim. They had let Irish craft beer lovers know what their modus operandi was; to brew intensely flavoured, big, bold beers. Other standouts have been their Heather sour ale that was aged in French red wine barrels. Keep your eyes peeled for a version of “Black Boar” that has been barrel aged in Old Fitzgerald bourbon barrels, it could potentially be Ireland’s best ever beer.
Their Winter Ale is going to be a 7.2% malty ale, brewed with honey, cinnamon, and ginger. When picking up this beer, it would be a crime not to pick up a bottle of “Black Boar” too.
10. Simon Lamberts and Sons: Pinot Noir Barrel Aged barleywine and Chardonnay Barrel Aged Belgian Brown
Yellow Belly Brewery, based in the Wexford pub Simon Lamberts and Sons, are newcomers on the Irish craft beer scene. They have previously brewed beers such as a black tea porter, made with lapsang souchong, a “pale stout”, a pale ale and a sweet stout.
Their Christmas beers are a bit more exciting though. We are starting to see more breweries use wine barrels for aging their beers, especially in America. Saison beers are perfect partners for Chardonnay barrels, but let’s see how this Belgian Brown turns out. On the other hand, putting a barleywine in a pinot noir barrel is inspired. These beers will also be put in 750ml size bottles, ideal for sharing with a loved one. These two Christmas specials, especially the barleywine, could be Ireland’s beer of the year, keep those fingers crossed.
Trouble Brewing in Kildare have been pumping out ipa’s to the majority of craft beer bars for a long time now. You’ve more than likely seen or tried their deception gold ale, dark arts porter, or graffiti session pale ale in any good pub. Their seasonal and special beers have really raised the bar in the Irish craft beer scene though. Hop Priority, a 11.1% triple ipa, or the Beoir #2, a 7.8% imperial red ale, could go against the best from its UK counterparts. Their cherry chocolate stout, at 5.7%, is released every Christmas. It’s a very well balanced beer with a dark and bitter chocolate flavour, followed by sweet cherry and dark fruits. This beer is only available via keg, so get yourself out to a good craft beer bar over the Christmas holidays.
12. O Brother Brewing: Coffee porter
Wicklow is the home of two new exciting Irish breweries, Wicklow Wolf and O Brother Brewing. The latter has a core range of 5-6% ipa’s, American pale ales, and a red ale. However, the three brothers had no trepidation about jumping straight into brewing bigger beers too. Brutus, their double india pale ale that came in at 9.1%, is still a style that very few breweries make here, despite people’s demand for it.
O Brother Brewing decided to celebrate their first Christmas as a brewery by making a 6.1% coffee porter. The coffee comes from fellow Wicklow resident, Coffee Mojo. This beer is perfectly suited to people who love rich cocoa, coffee, chocolate, and roasted flavours.
After trying such a diverse range of Irish Christmas beers, let us know which ones were your favourites. Fingers crossed that we may see some of these Special Release beers brewed again.