Much of a hubbub was made of the first canned Irish craft beer on the market; for a long time, Metalman had been teasing the idea, whetting the appetite of those who have been enjoying cans from the likes of Founders, Brewdog and Beavertown for some time now. Not only are there the practical advantages (indulging incognito, easier to recycle, harder to break, completely light-proof, better for preserving freshness, stackable, etc.) but Metalman's entry bore special significance because it heralded the first time any of their delicious beers would appear in a take-home serving (not including the collaboration with Hardknott).
Thus, Metalman Pale Ale made a long-awaited return to my palate. It had been around a year since I'd had the draught version - a shame because of the quality of the beer but testament to the myriad of great Irish beers to be occupying yourself with these days - so comparing with the draught version would be very unfair.
That said, it surely isn't as good.
Pouring clear copper, it's almost devoid of any aroma at first. When it does eventually drum up the courage and warmth to be smelled, it is simply awash with caramel. For the first few sips everything is OK; fruity, not exactly bitter, but noticeably hop forward, as you'd find the draught version I'm sure. Malts overcome this before long, to an effect that is not exactly cloying but certainly too much to enjoy. If you're really looking, you might find some grapefruit and other miscellaneous citrus notes clinging to driftwood for dear life in a sea of caramel, roiling with the odd swell of toffee malt. Amazingly, the beer remains quite drinkable - quaffable even; the four cans I bought didn't last very long. All of this would be disappointing but ultimately fine if it wasn't for the fact that, rather inconveniently, there are just way too many better pale ales and IPAs on this island, and many at a better price point, for this can to eke out a living.
The very first run was by no means a disaster, but improvements will have to be made if Metalman Pale Ale cans are to match the brewer's own very high standards.
Also; Metalman, please can Windjammer.