Missing keg happily reunited with owner, cheers twitter

Recently I came across a stray keg on the lane where I live. The natural reaction was to ignore it but this keg was unusual because it belonged to Bo Bristle. Baggot Street is fairly barren in craft beer terms (not counting Baggot Street Wines of course), except for the odd pint of Galway Hooker and O’Hara’s. So I tweeted the brewery to see if they were starting selling in the pubs in the area or if this was a keg that had gone walkies.

The keg was indeed missing and after some inspired sleuthing by John aka @thebeernut, it was deduced that it could have contained Carrig Lager (produced under licence by Bo Bristle) via Doheny & Nesbitts. So within a few minutes, Carrig Brewing Company had got in touch regarding this wandering keg. Turned out the beer is no longer being sold in Dohenys, Baggot Street has lost another craft beer but they made the arrangements for its safe return.

The image that the twitterati not only located but faciliated its return to its rightful owners

Why is this important you ask? Well, we tend to forget the sheer cost of purchasing kegs, all the more acute for small, independent breweries. Apparently over four hundred thousand beer and cider kegs have been stolen or gone missing in Ireland since 2007, costing producers approximately €40 million, according to research by the Irish Brewers Association. So if you see a keg abandoned, check the labels and at the very least tweet the owners.   

The keg was recovered last week after a brief soujorn staying in the back garden and of course there was nothing else to do but to enjoy a couple of beers from Bo Bristle to toast it’s safe return.

Logistics-ace Denis reclaims the keg & made sure it got safely home

The brewery from Bannagher, Co. Offaly has come along way since first emerging on the scene back in 2010 as Breweyed, with a Blond Pale Ale and Lager in tow. However, owners Morgan Smyth and Andrew Horn felt that the brand as it stood could not break into the mainstream and thus Bo Bristle was born in time for the second All Ireland Craft Beer and Cider Festival in 2012. This renewed approach saw them rejig the beers in their portfolio and adopt an interesting approach to market. They signed a deal with large multiple Marks & Spencers to stock their beers under the Bo Bristle name (not like some of the other beers produced exclusively for M&S under different names but by reputable producers).   

At present there are two beers in their core range: an amber ale (4.5%) and an IPA (5%). Hopefully their American Brown Ale, which debuted at the 2013 edition of the beer festival will hopefully make a more regular comeback (it’s a serious brown ale that has the characteristic sweetness perfectly blended with American hop oomph).   

Bo Bristle Amber Ale pours as if it’s not just a clever name. It is polished amber in colour complete with a thick frothy head. There are summer fruits and juicy berries on the nose. Tastes initially sweet but develops a slight bitterness, which is balanced by a biscuit body. It has an extremely pleasant finish.

The IPA on the other hand has a distinctive orange hue to its appearance, topped by a creamy head. Again there’s fruit on the nose but perceptively lighter than the amber ale. Instead, the bitterness comes through pleasantly in the flavour yielding at pace to a dry bitter finish.  

Both beers are enjoyable and strongly reminiscent of English-style ales, perhaps the hand of English-native Andrew Horn. They are enjoyable session ales and I can’t wait to try them on cask again because this brewery is getting better and better. I must admit I wasn’t that taken by them when tried almost eighteen months ago but these beers have come along way and so too has the brewery.

Absolutely a brewery to look out for and perfect beers to have on hand for Sunday lunch or that microwaveable meal (did M&S spot something here?) when you’re feeling that mid-week laziness.    

Five Lamps and a lantern

Do you know the Five Lamps? This is the earliest slogan of the Five Lamps Brewery and the correct answer at the time was Amiens Street. However, as friends were to discover the brewery has moved from its base on the North Strand to a fully-fledged brewing facility in the Liberties. The famous street light of the same name remains in Dublin 1. Confused? So were they!

William & Brian proudly showing off the new brewery I’m Dublin 8, not Dublin 1

The Probus beer club had the opportunity to visit Five Lamps recently and as luck would have it, the tour was to take place on Halloween night. Paul had chosen “Tarts and Vicars” as the theme so Brian Fagan (Chief of the Five Lamps) and William Harvey (Brewer) were slightly bemused by a handful of visitors turning up in costume (I went as a son-in-law of a preacher man). Most people reserved the right not to dress up and as someone said left a handful of us looking slightly awkward á la Bridget Jones.

William and his brews (& a lantern for good measure)

The Five Lamp brewery first came to prominence a little over a year ago through well designed branding appearing at several prominent pubs in the City Centre, namely McDaids and The Duke before spreading out to other well known pubs. It was interesting to see a craft beer focussing on what could be dubbed “non-specialist” beer pubs (I hope I’m not offending anyone and I know Carrig Lager had been available in The Duke since the early days). The lager itself was a departure for fans of highly carbonated and slightly bitter variations. It was definitely malt forward and has been refined over the past year. It is reminiscent for me of some of the Bavarian lagers, with a rich biscuity flavour. As a distinctly Dublin-branded beer, it was amusing to think that it was only until recently contract-brewed by Eight Degrees down in Co. Cork.

Got to love their branding

Brewing is now taking place in Dublin but in Dublin 8, which has caused problems for their identity because their next brew was named in honour of their new home – Liberties Ale. This was debuted at this year’s Irish Craft Beer & Cider Festival and is a pleasant pint indeed. It has a certain dryness to it with the slightest hop bite. Both the lager and ale were able to be sampled on the night.

Where better to enjoy a pint of Liberties Ale than at its source

Unfortunately, we were too early to try their latest release Honor Bright Red Ale, which was conditioning away in the bright tank. It was bottled this week and should be in shops over the coming days (as I was writing this, the first batch was delivered to Probus). Bottling is done manually and takes approximately seven and a half hours to complete (when I heard that I wonder why they would even bother and opt solely for kegs).

Manual bottle filler – 2 bottles at a time

The key to their beers according to William is accessibility both in terms of alcohol and bitterness levels. They’re in the business of session beers and have a capacity to brew approximately 650 litres per week. So alond with desires to do some special brews, they’re sticking with the tried and trusted “usuals” – a lager, a red, a golden ale and a porter. Following on from their red ale, the next release will be Blackpitts Porter, which was currently fermenting away. It’s great to see brewing up close in the centre of the city and their new brewery is further proof of the craft breweries re-establishing local brewing traditions . For example, the Blackpitts Porter Company existed over on Fumbally Lane in the Liberties in the late eighteenth century.

A brand spanking new brewery

Rounding off the visit was a selection of meat and cheese, along with homemade salsa and sauces prepared by Paul Fogarty of Probus fame. This has probably to be a first. A gourmet buffet selection and pints in a brewery, with costumes!

Most of us had gotten a little bit embarrassed by our costumes by this stage

It’s great to have seen the progress that the lads have made and I’m looking forward to trying their red ale and porter upon their release. No doubt they will be ones to have during a future beer tasting. Hopefully they will be coming to a pub near me soon.