Eight Degrees Brewing is, I think, the most recent addition to Ireland’s ever growing craft brewing population. Started by an Antipodean duo, bottles of their first beer “Howling Gale Ale” (5% abv) hit the shelves in Dublin last week. They are based in Mitchelstown, County Cork. Here is my take on their pale ale.
As you can see from the picture, it pours nice and clear, despite being unfiltered and bottle conditioned. Having a quick gawk inside I could see that there was very little sediment inside, not even enough to completely coat the base of the bottle. It is a dark yellow/amber colour. I didn’t get a terribly strong hop aroma from it, rather I got a sort of winey/fruity smell that I associate with something like Kölsch.
It is quite lightly carbonated. There is quite a strong roof-of-the-mouth bitterness, but happily I found that this was followed by a reasonable amount or sugar sweetness, more straightforward sugar than caramel. I don’t get an awful lot of late hopping, but my guess is that there is some Chinook in this since the hops have a certain spicy flavour to them. Because of the sugar perhaps, I find this has quite a juicy finish, and dare I say it, (perhaps also due to the low carbonation) I find it quite “more-ish”. Gah. I said it. I feel dirty.
It’s a bit hoppier than other Irish beers in its class, as far as straightforward bittering goes. Pale ale is a broad church and there’s room for this sort of thing. Metalman’s “Windjammer” was hoppy too, but it was all up front, so it’s a different story. All in all, I think “Howling Gale” is a good solid debut. They have a red ale in the pipeline, and I’m really interested to see what they do with it. I often find reds more than a little dull. Watch this space!