Having just reviewed Beau’s Lugtread Lager and giving it the highest rating I’ve yet provided, I was looking forward to this next bottle from Beau’s Brewing Company that I had hitherto never tried. I bought it on a bit of whim and because I hadn’t reviewed a red ale to this point – I say this because I didn’t read the label very carefully before purchase. Had I paused to do so, I would have learned that “part of the batch has been aged in whiskey barrels and then reintroduced adding subtle wood and vanilla nuances.” And, had I read this, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have had the wherewithal to purchase it ….
Nailed by my impulsivity again … damn!
So I girded myself to make a “blah!” face as I stood over the neck of this large bottle and took a big sniff. The aroma: malts and a bit of wood. Hmm, that wasn’t so bad – actually, it was quite pleasant, warm and earthy. My anxiety ebbed at a bit and I then poured the beer which produced a head that faded and laced like its older brother. Glass in hand, I cringed and prepared for the first sip expecting Innis & Gunn flavours. Again – hmm, not so bad at all. Sweetness up front as you’d expect in an Irish red ale but not the strong whiskey taste I abhorred in Innis and Gunn. Did I mention that, much to my father’s consternation, I have never liked the taste of any kind of whiskey?
Contrary to my expectations, I quickly concluded that what I was drinking was in fact very yummy (I know: “yummy” isn’t exactly a scientific description and beer sommeliers around the world are aiming their bottles at me). But Strong Patrick is indeed as luscious a brew and as slick on the tongue as the hard candy amber of its waters …. Creamy toffee and vanilla is throughout – excellent diacetyls. What surprised me almost as much as the lack of whiskey flavour is that the beer isn’t sickly sweet like so many of the strong winter beers I sampled last winter. This one has a nice crispness and hoppy finish that leaves a cleansed palette … and which makes it infinitely drinkable even in this stupid heat. The only detraction is a tell-tale papery-astringency that lasts in the middle of the tongue at the end. As such, it loses points on the aftertaste, but it’s certainly not alone in this fault. And the whiskey flavour? It’s there – but so subtle to really be the sum of its parts: the earthiness, the hint of peat and wood, the bit of vanilla, and the caramelization that isn’t ‘yucky’ (another technical term) sweet. This is all good because at 600mL and 6.7%, this bad boy will bring a good time to one and a lasting friendship to two.
Stats: Irish Red Ale. 6.7% ABV. Vankleek Hill, Ontario.
Colour: Medium red amber.
Mouth Feel: Medium carbonation through the middle and a crisp clean finish.
Pairings: Baked beans with Italian sausage and molasses.!