“The Irish are Coming” tasting March 17, 2015

Every year on March 17th, upwards of 10 different countries around the world celebrate the death of Saint Patrick. Known to some as, “Saint Patrick’s Day”, and to others as the, “Feast of Saint Patrick”, the occasion aims to celebrate the life and death of the patron saint of Ireland, along with the coming of Christianity to the once pagan nation. Food and alcohol are heavily associated with the holiday because for those observing Lent, this day provides a day of relief for whatever you may be abstaining from. So about a dozen and a half of us decided to gather, abstain from abstaining, and have a little party while we’re at it! The tasting was stand up format, so there was plenty of mingling, and everyone was in good cheer!

Although some of us are partial to beer while others to whiskey, we all enjoyed sampling some of the best Irish offerings from both persuasions, along with some excellent cheese and meat accompaniments from  the Peasant Cheese, our next door neighbor. Here is a brief outline of what we tasted!

Howling Gale Pale by Eight Degrees Brewing.
This American pale ale has lots of citrusy, floral hop aromas thanks to the generous amount of Chinook, Centenial and Amarillo hops used. A fresh, modern beer from a country that has exported primarily old and often mild beer styles! It’s breweries like Eight Degrees that are taking Ireland into the craft beer revolution! ($19.99 for a 6-pack of bottles.)

Irish Red Ale by Porterhouse Brewing.
A complex and amusing (yet mild) profile featuring pale, crystal, wheat and chocolate malts. Low IBU’s help this beer showcase this malt forward, slightly fudgy brew with light acidity and thin carbonation.($12.19 for a 4-pack of bottles.)

Oyster Stout by Porterhouse Brewing
An interesting take on a classic beer style, Porterhouse brewing shucks oysters right into the conditioning tank, though you’d never guess just by tasting it! The oysters give it this unique soft sweetness that compliments the roasted malts wonderfully. It paired quite well with some of the harder cheeses, yet wasn’t heavy enough to mask any of the further samples. ($13.69 for a 4 pack of bottles)

Knockmealdown Porter by Eight Degrees Brewing.
Wonderful chocolate and roasted grains are all over the nose of this dry Irish stout. It smells soft, doughy, floral and full. The chocolate is accompanied by fresh espresso, and slightly singed toast on the palate with a creamy mouth feel and a hearty, semi-fluffy and persistent head. ($19.99 for a 6-pack of bottles.)

Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey
From one of Ireland’s oldest distilleries, this blended whiskey is matured purely in ex-bourbon oak. The nose shows notes of sweet caramel, vanilla and toasty wood aromas. On the palate, we get a very soft feel, with flavors of golden raisins, caramel, and slight spice that lead into a toasty finish with yet more vanilla. An easy going dram that is even easier to sip! ($38.99)

Teeling small batch Irish whiskey
We then moved away from blends for now and on to Teeling’s flagship whiskey. The Teeling small batch is a soft single malt with a rich sweetness due to the rum barrel finished malt. The spice filled nose gives way to a sweet and spicy palate with notes of vanilla and creamy caramel. A decadence that would make a lovely dessert dram!($47.99)

Jameson Gold Reserve
By combining a good portion of pot stilled malt whiskeys with their finest grain whiskey from virgin oak barrels, the result is an affordable but delicious and complex Irish dram. Scents of sweet grains, wood and light nutty notes lead into a palate of mild spice, more nuts and dried fruits with the sweet but light grain backbone. I heard lots of nice comments about this dram. ($109.99)

Now normally I would give you a first, second and third place. This case is a little different seeing as there were 2 different kinds of products, and only a few of each. So I took a vote on the best beer and the best whiskey of the night, and here they are:

The Knockmealdown Porter from Eight degrees brewing was the standout beer for the evening, and to no big surprise! It was a really stand-up beer that was both balanced and hefty, and absolutely perfect for the Irish celebration. Now as for whiskey, Jameson’s Gold Reserve knocked the other whiskeys out of the water with its sweet and complex palate and soft profile. While I personally enjoyed the Teeling small batch a little more, my guests’ votes easily overtook mine!

And there you have it! The blockbusters of the evening. I want to thanks the Peasant Cheese Shop for the amazing food platters that were demolished throughout the night, and of course to all my guests for the interesting conversation and great company! Let’s do this again next year!


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