Before I delve into the messy business of logging every beer of my two week sitting tour of European cities, there is the important business of catching up with home comforts to be done.
Awash with lager though I was on said trip, I couldn't help but make a beeline for the Bierhaus tap that was then pouring 8 Degrees' latest special, a reiteration of Ochtoberfest, this time appearing as a bock. The original Märzen is one of my favourite Irish beers ever so a beefed-up bock version wasn't to be missed.
This Ochtoberfest is a beautiful bright amber but doesn't smell of much beyond a decent helping of toffee malt. This doesn't go anywhere except the palate, where it's joined by more caramel chewiness and non-lupuline bitterness; it's a spiky, stalky, vegetal bitterness that punctuates a beer that is otherwise so full and smooth in texture. Perhaps I'm lager-tired but, despite being clearly malt-forward and sweeter than it is bitter, it doesn't quite scratch the itch I have for darker, heftier, malty lagers. That said, there's some good quaffability here, even if it doesn't reach the heights of the ancestral Märzen.
The second Cork beer on the bar was a cask of Radikale's Radical Brew, a beer brewed with gin botanicals from Blackwater Distillery. Honestly, this should have been terrible. The fact that was served cool with the low, natural carbonation of cask should have made it even more horribly undrinkable and weird. But it wasn't. In fact, this clear red pour is actually quite subtle on the nose, with suggestions of white pepper and juniper the only evidence of deviant brewing. The taste is a burst of clove, juniper wood and pepper highlights on a stripped back, purely functional malt base. There's a nice spiced beef thing too; this could be the clove playing off the malt more than anything else, but again, it works surprisingly well and the cask serving helps this cooling, spicy half pint appear warm and cozy at the same time. Hats off to Radikale on this one.
The final indulgence comes from Kinsale, and it's Blacks' Sour Brown Ale, and beer that is unsurprisingly brown but surprisingly not very sour. Certainly there's not much on the nose, and this theme follows through on the taste too. It's woody and flashes sourness to begin, but finishes way too quickly, with it's main talking being more malty filler than show-stealing sourness. Drinkable, but not great.
Next up, Amsterdam.