Interesting craft beers for the weekend

Dean McGuinnes joins Sean to discuss an IPA and a Kildare ale

Dean McGuinness, of Premier International Beers, joins Sean Moncrieff to present a Belgian IPA and a Kildare beer called Brigid's Ale. 

Dean says, 'At the very centre of craft brewing are the ideas of creativity, artistic expression and individuality.  Craft brewing emerged as a reaction to bland, mainstream mass market beers that were designed to appeal to the ‘average drinker’ – in reality this translates into the idea that the beer has reduced character to avoid a situation where distinctive flavour might alienate part of the market.  With craft brewed beers, the opposite is the case.  The brewers seek to infuse the beer with distinctive character – whether subtle and delicate, or rich and full flavoured – making their beers individual and unique'.

'To achieve a truly unique beer requires inspiration.  Sometimes this inspiration comes from within the brewery -  the brewer flexes their creative muscles and apply their ingenuity to an unusual project.  In some cases the inspiration for a distinctive beer comes from a combination of the brewer and some outside influence or expertise.  Such beers can be brewed as limited edition one-of releases, as seasonal or high end beers, or as gypsy brewed beers, where a creative person from outside the brewery comes into the brewery and creates their own beer bringing their own individuality and uniqueness into the liquid that they create'.

Finally, Dean says, 'Our two beers for to-day are examples of beers that have been created as a fusion of creativity from outside the brewery applied to someone open to brewing something unique in their brew-house.  The first beer is part of the Arthur’s Legacy range of Limited Edition beers from Brouwerij de Hoorn in Belgium.  Jack the R.IPA is a red IPA brewed as an expression of Polaris hops in a style of beer that has evolved from India Pale Ale, and is probably more reflective in its style of traditional IPA’s from the 1800’s.  Our second beer – Brigid’s Ale – is a beer brewed with honey that is the inspiration of Susan and Judith Boyle.  These two sisters are 5th generation publicans from Kildare town who have fused their passion for beer with honey from their family’s own hives to create a distinctive and delicious red ale brewed and fused with Irish honey'.

Arthur’s Legacy Jack the R.IPA –

Beer Style                           -  Red IPA

Alcohol by Volume               -  8.0% a.b.v

Brewed by                          -  Brouwerij de Hoorn

Brewed in                           -  Steenhuffel, Belgium

Given the country that we are in, first and foremost we have to explain who Arthur is.  Palm Brewery’s is a family owned and operated by the Van Roy family.  Arthur Van Roy is the family member from history whose legacy is immortalised in this range of beers.

The Arthur’s Legacy beers are simply incredibly.  Limited Edition beers, they are brewed as once off artistic creations – distributed worldwide, bought and drunk by the fortunate few who get the opportunity to buy them.  After this, the brewery moves on to their next endeavour, and the beer becomes part of the Van Roy’s legacy and contribution to brewing history.

Each bottle is numbered – the bottles themselves may become collectors items long after they are drunk!

Cleverly named – Jack the R.IPA is a red IPA.  The India Pale Ale style is now often abbreviated to simply ‘IPA’ because so many creative variations on the IPA theme have been brewed.  Some of these creative variations departing from what would have been considered to be a ‘classic IPA’ (for example, Black IPA, White IPA and so on).  Ironically, while this beer is a ‘Red IPA’ it is very possible that this beer is very close to true to what would have been the profile of original IPA’s.   India Pale Ale’s were ‘pale’ beers, but this description would have referred to anything on the light side of brown/black.  It would not have been unusual for IPA’s to be amber to dark amber in colour, and a beer with a distinctive red hue could easily have fallen into what would have historically been considered ‘Pale’.  All of this to say that as a ‘red’ IPA, this beer is accurate to modern stylistic descriptions, but is also very much true to the heritage of the original India Pale Ale style.

Hops are at the centre of IPAs.  Jack the R.IPA uses a single hop – Polaris – and showcases this hop by allowing its individual character to infuse and shine through in the beer.  However, Jack the R.IPA cannot be considered simply to be a ‘hoppy beer’.  Like all true works of art, this beer is layered in complexity, and balances an array of flavours and character, while maintaining this hop character as a central element to the beer.

The aromas of the beer fuse malt (caramel, a touch of roasty malt and biscuit) with fermentation fruit and hop character (stone fruit – apricot and peach).  On tasting this beer, the first thing to note is the superb balance and depth of complexity of the beer.  Malt flavours are layered in this beer, with rich caramel, background roast acidity, digestive biscuit and toasty malt all providing a foundation for the beer.  Distinctive fruity character is the next layer of flavour – stone fruit and citrus combining peach, apricot sweetness with lime acidity.  The beer finishes by fusing all of these flavours, and then a lingering bitterness (quite high in this beer at 60 I.B.U.’s, but perfectly balanced) develops into the finish.

The philosophy of the Arthur’s Legacy beers is to delivery beers that are true artistic interpretations.  For Jack the R.IPA, the brewery has showcased Polaris hops, and fused these hops with an array of other flavours in the beer.  As a Red IPA, the beer has appeal to modern craft beer drinkers, but it also hearkens to the day when ‘pale’ had a much broader interpretation.  Layered in complexity, this beer is truly delicious and multi-faceted, yet immensely drinkable given the depth of character built into the beer.

One to search out and get your hands on – after it is gone, you never again will be able to do so!


Brigid’s Ale –

Beer Style                           -  Red Ale brewed with honey

Alcohol by Volume                -  5.0% a.b.v

Brewed by                          -  Two Sisters Brewing – gypsy brewed at Trouble Brewing

Brewed in                           -  Kill, County Kildare, Ireland

Dean says, 'Brigid’s Ale is brewed by Two Sister’s Ale Brewing.  Susan and Judith Boyle are two sisters with a passion for all things alcoholic and liquid!  As 5th generation brewers, they are genetically connected to the drinks industry.  Further developing on this, Judith is a certified Beer Sommelier who also makes mead on occasion (more on this later), and Susan is a writer, performer and artist who has developed and presents a show called The Wine Goose Chase – telling the history of wine in Ireland while tasting a range of wines with the audience'.

'As well as running Boyle’s bar and off-licence in Kildare town, the Boyle family are also bee-keepers.  With around 30 hives, they harvest honey that is infused with the aromas and flavours from the hedgerow blossoms of Kildare.  On occasion, Judith has used this honey to make mead – an ancient drink fermented from honey'.

'With growth in craft brewing in Ireland, it is no surprise that these two sisters chose to brew their own beer.  With a passion for honey and bee-keeping, they had a desire to use honey as one of their ingredients.  Fortunate to have a local craft brewer just down the road – Trouble Brewing, in Kill – this afforded them the brewery in which they could ‘gypsy’.  A cherry on the cake was the fact that award winning home-brewer Brendan Murphy was on hand to work with them on the beer’s recipe to translate the vision for their beer in to reality'.

'Brigid’s Ale is the result of this fusion of talent and ingenuity.  Named for St. Brigid – who was actually reknowned as a Brewster (female brewer) and also, by coincidence, a bee-keeper – the beer builds on the heritage of Kildare in more ways than one.  One of the curious aspects of bee-keeping and the honey that results is that the character of honey is strongly influenced by the locality and flora from which bees collect pollen.  As this pollen is collected and brought back to the hive, the beer becomes infused with the character of the flowers and flora of the local hedgerows – a fact that is reflected in Brigid’s Ale as this character comes through in the beer'.

'Brigid’s Ale is a red ale infused with honey.  The honey is added to the beer in the brewing process at the end of the boil and before fermentation.  The result of this in brewing terms is that the rich sweetness of the honey becomes very much a secondary character of the beer.  A certain amount of this honey sweetness is fermented out by the yeast after the beer has been cooled, and the honey integrates into the flavour of the beer.  Distinctive floral aromas, reminiscent of Kildare hedgerow blossoms, come through on the nose, and the honey notes on the palate are subdued, clean and secondary to the malt character of the beer'.

'As a red ale, there is a significant backbone of malt flavour in this beer.  Biscuit, cocoa powder and a chocolate roast acidity are forward to the residual honey, which is present but in the background in terms of its subtle sweetness.  Malt aromas come through, and fuse with floral aromas from the honey, supported by Target hops used in brewing the beer'.

Finally, Dean says 'Brigid’s Ale is an excellent example of how the craftsmanship and heritage of a family – in the form of their bee-keeping tradition – can be fused with their passion for beer resulting in a distinctive beer.  Described as a ‘beer brewed with honey’ rather than a ‘honey beer’ – this description is apt, as the inclusion of honey does not result in excessive sweetness, nor is there any cloy in the mouthfeel on the palate (the beer finishes quite dry).  Brigid’s Ale is a multi-dimensional affair – honey being one aspect, fusing with classic red ale character and target hops, giving a layered drinking experience'.


Jack the R.IPA available in –

Redmonds Off Licence, Ranelagh, Dublin 6

Sweeneys Wine Merchants, Phibsboro, Dublin 3

Martins Off Licence, Fairview, Dublin 3

Drinks Store, Manor St, Dublin

Fine Bottles, Blackrock, Co Dublin

Bradleys, North Main St, Cork

No 21 Off Licences – Midleton, Cork; Charleville, Cork; Coburg St, Cork and Waterford

Next Door, Clonakilty, Co Cork

Grimes Bar, Waterford City

Wine Centre, Kilkenny

Egans Off Licence, Portlaoise, Co Laois

Smyths on the Square, Navan, Co Meath

The Malt House, Trim, Co Meath


Brigid’s Ale available in: Boyle’s of Kildare, and will be showcased at Ballymaloe Lit Festival May 20th-21st and at Killarney Beer Festival May 28th and 29th.