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QUAFF: White Haze IPA

New beer from O'Hara explores trendy New England style

O’Hara’s Brewery continues to experiment with interesting styles, and the Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow based brewery has just released White Haze IPA, a fruit forward, hazy IPA.

Seamus O’Hara, founder and CEO, commenting  on the new brew said – “We are not ones to follow every trend but we felt it was time to tackle a hazy IPA. There is almost as much diversity in this style as there is in craft beer generally but the one common denominator is that soft mouthfeel and juicy flavour. In developing White Haze we played around with a few different hop bills but if we were going to do a juicy hazy IPA we always wanted to have Mosaic involved, we just love the punch of grapefruit pith it gives a beer. Like most of our beers drinkability was an important consideration and we strived for a fruity but balanced beer that is both accessible and rewarding. While White Haze has lots of soft juicy flavour I think it has just enough bittering balance to make a second bottle tempting!”

As I had pencilled in fish (fresh cod) and chips for Tuesday night’s dinner at home it seemed appropriate to knock the top off the sample and quaff. Alas I couldn’t find the promised “refreshing tropical fruit flavours” but there were plenty of citrus vibes – grapefruit and Seville oranges forced their way through the opaque burnished gold body and assailed the nose in fine style, along with a fair whack of spice. Top fermentation, coupled with cold-conditioning and absence of filtration has provided the benchmark hazy hue demanded of the style, which was, apparently, developed in New England. The attractive milk-white head persisted to the end of the glass.

To sum up I found White Haze IPA attractive, richly-flavoured and moreish. I’d certainly drink it again.

ABV is 5%.

The O’Hara’s team are also very excited about the most recent release in their single hop IPA ‘Hop Adventure Series’. The sixth edition is out now and promises to showcase the ‘Idaho 7’ hop, with flavours of tropical fruit, stone fruit and a hint of black tea.

White Haze will be available in select independent bars, off-licences and retailers with a RRP €3.35 for a 500ml bottle.

Midleton Very Rare 2019 released

Brian Nation, Master Distiller

Fado, fado, around this time of year I used to look forward to an early Christmas present.  The good cheer was brought to my door by a courier who, I thought, regarded at me with a respect bordering on reverence as he handed over the precious package. Boy, oh boy, I could hardly wait, tearing at the wrapping to uncover the polished wooden box. I’d open the lid and there it was, the plain-ish bottle with the understated label, the gold-to-amber liquid within. Ten minutes later, no matter what the time of day, I’d be sat in my kitchen, nosing, sipping a dram of the latest vintage of the Midleton Very Rare, King of Irish Whiskeys and raising a silent toast to the guys who made it.

Of course in those days there were only five or six of us boozehounds to plámás, distributing largesse on this scale wouldn’t have caused much of a dent in Irish Distillers’ marketing budget.  Today, with soi-disant drinks writers in every publication from The Tondragee Trumpet to Welder & Ferret Breeder I imagine the practise has been discontinued on grounds of expense. Or can it be I’ve  just lost some of the cachet I once had?

Happily,  I still get to taste the ‘V.R’. Recently I had the pleasure of attending an exclusive  tutored tasting – in the Constitution Room at The Shelbourne Hotel – curated by Master Distiller Brian Nation, the man behind the masterpiece. The Midleton Very Rare 2019, 36th edition,  has been blended from whiskeys laid down at Midleton Distillery, Co Cork, over the past four decades. and combines only hand-selected single pot still and single grain Irish whiskeys of exceptional quality and rarity within the Midleton inventory. With each whiskey in the profile having been matured exclusively in lightly-charred first-fill American oak barrels for between 13 and 34 years, 2019 marks the oldest collection of casks used to create a Midleton Very Rare since the premium whiskey’s inception in 1984. 

TASTING

Here are Brian’s tasting notes:-

Nose: Ripe fruit notes of sweet pear and apple that develop overtime, adding a delicate touch of mango. Complimented by the charred American oak, these flavours are further accentuated with additional sweet layers of brown sugar and vanilla, with a light dusting of nutmeg, cinnamon and clove spice. 

Taste: Luscious and silky texture with the orchard fruits and pot still spices coming to the fore while the grain’s soft floral notes gently linger in the background, allowing the oak to add dimensions of mild tannins and wood spice.

Finish:  The fruits and gentle spice slowly fade, giving way to the oak foundation that leaves a mild roasted coffee and nutty character to linger until the very end.

Brian also brought along a bottle of the 1989 for comparison purposes. This, I thought a very different tipple, with, even after thirty years, massive power and presence. The 2019, in contrast, seemed less ‘driven’ , lighter and altogether more poised. Brian agreed, describing the latest release as having “no shout, no roar – it’s a very modern whiskey.” He stressed the sweetness, the “dusting of spices, the cinnamon notes”  and the exotic hints of mango and mandarin. Conspicuous length of finish was a feature of both the 1989 and the 2019.

I asked him if he considered the process as evolutionary. He said “no, it’s more a matter at looking at what we’ve got in each particular year and deciding how best to showcase it.”

THE 1825 ROOM

To mark the release of its 2019 Midleton Very Rare vintage, Irish Distillers has launched the ‘1825 Room’, a members’ site to pay homage to Midleton Distillery’s outstanding influence on Irish distilling since its foundation in 1825. Offering exclusive content and features about Midleton Very Rare, the site – available to join now @ www.midletonveryrare.com will also include an exclusive online store, with five rare vintages for sale from 2nd October for one month. To celebrate the launch of the 1825 Room, members will have the opportunity to purchase a bottle of the very first 1984 vintage at the price of £40 Irish punts, which equates to €50.80. In anticipation of demand being exceptionally high, purchasers will be selected through a ballot system.

Bottled at 40% ABV, Midleton Very Rare 2019 is available globally from this month at the RRP of €180 in markets including Ireland, the UK, and the US. 

Michelin Bib Gourmands revealed

FOUR IRISH RESTAURANTS AWARDED MICHELIN BIB GOURMAND STATUS

Ireland records four new names amongst 20 Bib Gourmand recipients in 2020 Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland

Northern Ireland has one new name amongst six Bib Gourmand recipients  

Four Irish restaurants join the list of 20 Bib Gourmand recipients whose names feature in the 2020 Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland.

Michelin Bib Gourmand awards recognise those establishments offering good food at affordable prices.

The four newcomers are: Thyme (Athlone); Land to Sea (Dingle); Circa (Terenure) and Uno Mas (Aungier Street, Dublin).

Others, all of which retain Bib Gourmand status from earlier years, are 1826 Adare (Adare); Aldridge Lodge (Duncannon); Brownes (Tuam); Chart House (Dingle); The Courthouse (Carrickmacross); Dillon’s (Timoleague, Cork); Giovannelli (Killorglin); Kai (Galway City); Morrissey’s (Doonbeg); Sha-Roe Bistro (Clonegal); Tartare Café & Wine Bar (Galway City) and TwoCooks (Sallins).

In Dublin city, Clanbrassil House (Clanbrassil Street); Pichet (Trinity Street); Pigeon House (Clontarf); and Richmond (Portobello) retain their Bib Gourmand status.

Northern Ireland – six Bib Gourmand awards

In Northern Ireland, Balloo House in Killinchy, Newtownards joins the list of six Michelin Bib Gourmand establishments in the province.

Retaining their awards from last year are Clenaghans (near Aghalee, Co. Antrim) Noble (Holywood); Wine & Brine (Moira) and Belfast’s Deanes at Queen’s and Home in Wellington Place.

Announcing the Bib Gourmand awards, Rebecca Burr, Director of the Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland, said: “The eating out offer in Ireland just seems to go from strength to strength, and the new Bib Gourmands reflect this. They are really varied in terms of location, food and ambience, but are all producing very good meals with excellent produce. That produce is very often local, and it is really pleasing to see restaurants like Thyme, Land to Sea, Circa, Uno Mas and Balloo House flourishing.”

The Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2020 Guide will be will published on Monday, 7th October and will be available at http://travel.michelin.co.uk and in bookshops.

It’s worth noting that several restaurants – Bastible, Delahunt, Etto, Forest & Marcy, Pig’s Ear, Craft and Copper Hen have lost their Bibs. Copper Hen has closed and some of the others might – owing to increased overheads plus the recent VAT hike might have been eliminated under Michelin’s “value” rule. There is also the exciting prospect that some of them might be going the other way. i.e “star-bound”. We’ll know on Monday.

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