Friday, 31 August 2012

A drop of the black stuff...

  Guinness Black Lager, Guinness' newest offering, certainly lives up to it's promises in that it's a lager and it's black.  Very black in fact, inky.  It tastes nothing like Guinness stout though, there's no tang or maltyness present at all.  Close your eyes and take a sip and you'd swear you were drinking a regular, generic, amber lager.  Personally I wasn't very impressed, it seems to be a very average lager with an unusual colour attached and I can't see where the market is for it.  Too bland for craft beer fans and too weird looking for lager drinkers.  Time will tell I suppose.

  If it's not broke, don't fix it, sound advice that someone should pass on to the marketing department of Guinness.  I love Guinness, I really do, the original 'black stuff' and still the best.  The Guinness marketing heads don't appear to share my love though as they keep trying to recreate Guinness in new variations that never seem to work.
  In recent years we've has :

Guinness Light - low calorie stout launched in the 1980's - an infamous failure that's still a laughing stock

Breo - marketed as white Guinness it was actually a German style Weissbier with a thick head - gone within two years

Guinness Brewhouse Series - a series of four stouts made by Guinness using different recipes and ingredients  each available for a limited period of six months - due to poor sales and despite a major ad campaign the Brewhouse series was abandoned after the third stout was released

Guinness Red - a red ale with a creamy Guinness head, launched in the U.K. in 2007 it never made the trip across the Irish sea and now seems to have quietly disappeared

  After all those failures and embarrassments we still have the original product doing well, a sedate cash-cow producing steady profits from a legion of loyal drinkers.

  Honourable mention for 'Bad King Johns Black Ale', a bitter very dark ale from England with a smooth finish.  Well worth sampling.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

We celebrated the start of the 2012 London Olympics with these specially made 'Olympic Shots'.   The five Olympic rings represented by Jagermeister and four flavours of Mickey Finns Schnapps ( Blueberry, Sour Raspberry, Sour Irish Apple and Butterscotch ).

Friday, 27 July 2012

  How well do craft brewers know their target market?  Also, how well do craft beer drinkers know how their favourite drink is made? Or do they care?

  The label on Stonewells Cider states that all their apples were sourced locally in and around Kinsale, Co. Cork and then goes on to list each variety of apple that went into it and fair dues to them, they've produced one of the best tasting ciders I've ever had.  Big on apple flavour with a crisp bite and an incredible expansive bouquet of apples and alcohol, Stonewells is a world away from the sweetish conformity of most commercial ciders.

  Apparently in times gone by they used to put nails in cider when it's being brewed.  Just a few regular two inch iron nails placed in the wooden barrel at the start of the brewing process.  By the time the cider is ready to drink the nails aren't there anymore, they've completely dissolved into the drink.  The more iron nails in the barrel the dryer and sharper the taste of the end product and its good news for all the anemic cider lovers.  Does anyone still make cider with this method?  I seriously doubt it, it seems a bit too extreme for most craft brewers and if there was a cider out there brewed with nails (from one of the more eccentric brewers, the ones who will try anything, sometimes with great results, sometimes not) it would have it's ingredients featured prominently in both the name and label.

  I'd buy a bottle anyway, just to try.  I might not like it but I'd definitely try it.  I am their target market.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

An Ideal Combination

Irish pubs always have books in them.  Usually antique editions, dusty, displayed out of reach on high shelves.  Decorative allusions to the literary past and old world charm.  The books in The Old Punchbowl's library aren't there as decoration, they're there to be browsed, handled, picked up, flicked through and read and enjoyed by anyone who wants to.  Most of the books were mine although there has been some very welcome donations from customers.

  My own contributions include books by authors such as Colin Bateman, Mark Billingham, Ken Bruen, Lawrence Block, Raymond Chandler, Dashiel Hammett, Michael Dibdin, Colin Dexter, Tana French, Kinky Friedman, Joe R.Lansdale,  Ed McBain, Ian Rankin, Jim Thomson and Dave Zeltserman.

  Spot the pattern yet ?  Crime fiction, perhaps more than any other genre of fiction it seems to fit neatly into the pub environment.  The discreet dimmed lighting, a quiet corner with a  comfortable seat and a hard wooden table, a sense of humanity around you, muffled noise and movement creating an atmosphere without being an overt distraction.  A good book and a good drink, paired together, an ideal combination.