Provided by the brand’s PR for review (as earlier I&G’s I’ve reviewed), I opened this at near room-temperature. It’s a release timed of course to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day: the aging barrels had held Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey.
I’ve written earlier on the new barrel-in-beer method of Scotland-based I&G. The results are evident to see here as well: the beer is touched by a cured wood flavour, but retains an essential freshness. The result for me is that the off-putting oxidative notes of many barrel-aged beers are absent.
It’s a great method and shows that innovation is ceaseless and necessary in brewing as in any other endeavour.
The taste is good and natural. I like the fact that there is no raw, over-roasted character. And the bitterness is more than adequate. I don’t believe porter and stout should be hop bombs, in fact.
It’s contemporary Irish in following the dryness of most Irish stout of no great gravity, at least the ones I’ve had both made in Ireland and North American emulations.
Whether O’Hara’s, Murphy’s, Guinness (any version), or a North American craft brand, it’s a trait almost invariable in modern stout and porter averaging 4-6% abv, anyway.
I prefer a sweeter taste, more malty, a taste too I believe is historical for the mild (unaged) end of the stout spectrum.
True, barrel-aging implies perhaps a greater attenuation than “new” beer, but still at > 6% abv the beer could stand more body.
On the other hand, most consumers would doubtless prefer the formulation as bottled. Can you taste Irish or any whiskey? No, but you never do, that’s always the way. If you used a wood innocent of whiskey’s kiss, it would taste different though. In that sense, using ex-whiskey casks adds a je ne sais quoi.
What the Irish whiskey gives is, the taste that would not be there if you didn’t use it. That’s a good craic, eh? If it isn’t, I plead in defence: broken Irish is better than clever English.