In my last two posts, I blogged about beers I brought with me to Sneem, expecting a total absence of craft beer, or even good 'premium' stuff. Typically, I'd expect to find Guinness, Murphy's, Heineken and Budweiser, with trendier places dispensing Coors Light and Miller, probably in bottles. Of course, I wouldn't at all expect to find anything in an off-licence. As such, it seemed essential that I bring a couple of quality brews to stave off the macro blues.
How delightfully wrong I was.
D. O'Shea's pub in the town serves Rebel Red and Friar Weisse on tap, along with the major brands listed above. Also of note to me was the Staropramen tap - I certainly wasn't expecting that. Riney's, also in the town, is a bar/general store/off-licence that I discovered to be selling beers from St. Austell, Fullers, Belhaven, Courage and Shipyard among others (I just can't remember the full range), including Kriek Boon. Yes, let it be known that one can purchase a Lambic in Sneem. Eager to exploit the choice, I brought a Courage Russian Imperial Stout.
I apologize for sounding so patronizingly shocked at the choice of beer in the town, perhaps it's just the Cork City coming out in me...
Anyway, I decided to try the Friar Weisse in O'Shea's, seeing as I hadn't had one in about two years. My palate has matured since then, and I highly doubt I gave this beer the respect it deserves the first time around. At first, the aroma is quite subdued with the cold, but with time and warmth it reveals the standard checklist 'weisse' items of bubblegum and clove, with the fruitiness characterized by citrus and hints of the expected banana. Nothing particularly unique going on here, but the taste makes up for that. Bubblegum sweetness appears again in light hints, along with the aforementioned citrus and banana, but things really come together with the Wit-like floral bitterness to the finish and the ever-present nutty undertone. I genuinely believe this is a German-syle Hefe with a difference, and that it would compete with it's Bavarian counterparts in a test of taste and drinking experience.
As much as I love the Franciscan Well, I must confess that Rebel Red is the only of their beers that I regularly have. The others I've tried once each (until now) and never returned to. Perhaps this is because I tasted them so early in my craft beer education that I failed to appreciate them fully. Either way, I'll definitely be coming back to the Friar Weisse, and I'll endeavour to re-evaluate the other beers from my most local brewer in good time.