February/March 2012
Irish Styles

When things go wrong and will not come right,
Though you do the best you can,
When life looks black as the hour of night -
A pint of plain is your only man.
(Flann O'Brien)

In the hands of an Englishman, a plain porter, cousin of Irish Stout, is the salve to all wounds. Irish actor Peter O’Toole once said that his three favorite Irish foods were all Guinness, but he would have done well to have a fish fry next to that stout!  There is a passion and a language for getting the stout pint perfect on the Emerald Isle -- it must not have fish eye, it must have a perfect mushroom head, and above all not be less than full!  In the American Craft scene this same passion translates into myriad endless variations on Irish reds and stouts – in this issue we have the honor of tasting 12 of these American takes on the traditional Irish beer styles.

The Beer Beacon panel ventured out to the brand spankin’ new Pizza Plant on Transit Road in Amherst just outside of Buffalo for the Irish Styles tasting.  With 29 taps and several special Belgian taps there is a lot of beery (read hoppy) goodness to savor -- as always this is a place you will love to be if you love craft beer. With nice mix of local, East Coast, and West Coast brews available there is something on tap for all tastes.  The food, as with the Walker location, is always satisfying and goes really well with the brews.  It’s busy, so get there early, buy a draft card, and luxuriate in the Craic!

Thank you to all the generous breweries that sent Irish Styles to the Beer Beacon for this tasting. We wish you a very Green St Patrick’s Day – Slàinte!

The Place:
Pizza Plant

Guest Tasters:
Our tasters today were yours truly (Dion), Evill, Hop Jack, Vinny, and Lupulin Lush.

The Method:
Tasters are served each beer, with only the information of the style the brewery is emulating, when there is a style. The beer name and brewery are revealed to the tasters as each next blind round is served.

Rating System:
Our panel of experienced tasters participates in a blind tasting, knowing
only the style of beer they are sampling. The participants then give
their review and a rating according to style, as per below.

We include tasters who represent a broad spectrum of craft beer
drinkers—from home brewers to the average commercial American pilsner
drinker. While we will remind tasters of style guidelines, we also welcome and
encourage new interpretations of the classic old styles as the essence of the
craft beer scene.This method gives our readers different perspectives on the same beer
so they can perhaps compare it to other beers they know and make more informed drinking decisions.

The Pint Rating Scale

would seek this one out
would drink another one
would finish it
not drinkable


Upcoming Beacon Samplings & Submissions Calendar

Apr/May Belgian Styles March 5 March 7
Jun/Jul Craft Beer Around the Globe May 7 May 9
Aug/Sep Pales, IPAs, Double IPAs July 2 July 4
Oct/Nov German Styles September 3 September 5
Dec/Jan Holiday Ales November 5 November 7


The Beers:

Samuel Adams Irish Red, Boston Brewing Co.
One Design Center, Suite 850, Boston, MA

A sparkling light caramel candy low hop easy drinker thought Vinny. Would bring this to a party, said Lupulin Lush. A very drinkable beer says Hop Jack. Fizzy red party fun says Evill. Pair with a burger or brisket on the grill.


Cardinal Ale, Ohio Brewing Company
451 S. High Street, Suite B, Akron, OH 44311

pint glass

Everyone thought this bottle was not fresh (actually oxidized) and so I suggest it be taken out of the tasting.


Sam Adams Tasmanian Red IPA, Boston Beer Company
One Design Center, Suite 850, Boston, MA

Evil thinks this is a good one best paired with more beer.  Good balance caramel and malt with a nice hoppy finish good with spicy food says Hop Jack. Lupulin Lush is reminded of a Erie Scotch Ale

Southern Tier Porter
2072 Stoneman Circle, Lakewood, NY 14750

Roasty coffee and hoppy nose, with a sour body says Vinny. Dark with red glints in the color, roasty and drinkable. Would drink this with a cheery cheese cake says Dion.

Sam Adams Black & Brew, Boston Beer Company
One Design Center, Suite 850, Boston, MA

Still has coffee grounds in it kind of hair of the dog beer says Evill!  Herbal coffee nose with creamy coffee and cane sugar molassas – smooth body says Vinny. Hop Jack want to pair this with Horse Brass Pub’s Full English Breakfast! Lupulin Lush  wants to have beer waffles with this – she says, sexy chocolate like a s’more – very pleasing!

Cappuccino Stout, Lagunitas Brewing Company
1280 North McDowell Blvd., Petaluma, CA 94954

Vinny says this is  like a jucy berry soaked in coffee and sprayed with hops oils – Evill wants it with cookies and pastries.   This beer actually reminds Lupulin Lush of  a Tuscan wines she’d have with bbq red meat.  Hop Jack thinks this is in a category all it’s own.

Steel Valley Stout, Ohio Brewing Company
451 S. High Street, Suite B, Akron, OH 44311


Evill really digs this one and wants to have it with powdered doughnuts.  Vinny says it’s got an earthy woody nose with tobacco, a light sour finish and hops to balance. Hop Jack thinks it’s complex and woody while Julia finds it has an earthiness with a sweet side. 

Sam Adams Cream Stout, Boston Beer Company
One Design Center, Suite 850, Boston, MA

Vinny pairs this with a rich bread pudding to match the berries and very dark chocolate he tastes in this beer. Lupulin Lush on the other hand wants an Irish Stew while Evill craves cream of potato soup. Hop Jack likes the rich caramel and toffee against hints of spice.

Oatmeal Stout, Wolavers Organic Brewing
793 Exchange Street, Middlebury, VT 05753

Cigarrets and anxiety!  Vinny and Lupulin find it has an espresso roastiness with a slight tartness. Dion states, many what are you guys smokin – this is a very nice beer, big chocolate, thick presence on the palate, rich and delicious.

Road Slush, New Glarus Brewing
2400 State Highway 69, New Glarus, WI 53574

Vinny says it’s dark roasted sweet and fruits. Standard of an oatmeal stout says Evil – good with porridge and black bread. Luplin gets chocolate, cherry with a growing complexity as it warms.

2x Milk Stout, Southern Tier Brewing
2072 Stoneman Circle, Lakewood, NY 14750

Headless stoutman of the Sweetopolypse says Evill!  Lupulin: sweet but complex with mocha and roasty flavors – great with smoked meats or brats. Vinny says very smooth and delicious.  Hop Jack thinks it’s a great dessert beer that would age well.

Storm King, Victory Brewing Company
420 Acorn Lane, Dowingtown, PA 19335

Vinny says, wonderful hops and peppery nose with a fruity alcohol and hop–infused body!  Lupulin guessed it was most like, well Victory Storm King - best with Stilton or Blue Cheese. Evill wants to kick it with a cigar – he likes the way the alcohol breaths out of his nose (better not smoke with that one Evill!). Hop Jack loves this one and wants to age it for 5 or 6 years.













--- by The Beer Diva, Beer Beacon columnist

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