Saturday, March 19, 2011

Beer Tasting: Irish Beer at Dusty's Cellar

Dusty's Cellar near Lansing, MI offered a St. Patrick's Day Beer Tasting. Dusty's Cellar usually specializes in wine. From my experience, they are also clearly knowledgeable about beer.
From the list above, I sampled : Harp, Wexford Creme Ale, Murphy's Stout, Guinness Foreign Extra, Magner's Cider, McSorley's Pale Ale, Sam Adams Red, McSorley's Black Lager, Short's Uncle Steve's Stout. (Plus a special tasting of Dark Horse Brewery's Blueberry Stout.)

For those who haven't tried Harp in a few years, you're in for a surprise! It has been reformulated and is now hoppier and fruitier than before. This is a nice, light, Irish brew.

Wexford Creme Ale lacked bitterness, and tasted like the love child of an ale and a creme sherry. This paired very nicely with the assortment of Irish cheese that was offered. For me, it was good, but lacked complexity. This creme ale only struck one note.

We skipped on the Smithwick's and Guinness Draught because we already knew what those tasted like. But there was a lot of nostalgia for these two among the other tasters at the tasting.

Murphy's Stout is very similar to the Guinness Draught. Murphy's has a bit more of the coffee flavor that can come out in a stout, and it was heavier. It also tasted cleaner than a Guinness.

The Guinness Foreign Extra was one of the favorites from the Irish table. It has a very bold flavor with sourness that's rare in stouts, and you can taste the alcohol. Guinness got it right when brewing the Foreign Extra. It's everything that traditional Guinness is lacking.

Magner's Cider was not one of my favorites of the night. This is likely because it's not actually a beer, and it's much too sweet. You get left with a pleasant green apple flavor at the end note.

McSorley's Pale Ale was heavy for an ale, but still light. This is a complex beer with a good kick of hops. My first McSorley's experience, and I was not let down.

The Sam Adam's Red came as a surprise. It smelled like wet dog. I think this is because of the amount of yeast. While drinking this red, all I tasted was yeast. This is a disappointing red.

McSorley's Black Lager tasted like you would expect a lager to taste. This hit it out of the ball park! By far my favorite of the night. This was an easy-drinking heavy lager that hit all the right notes.

The Short's Uncle Steve's Stout was very bitter, and didn't hit the usual malty notes a typical stout will hit. If you really want a hoppy stout, go for this one. I wasn't a fan, but several other tasters expressed their love of this beer.

Although not part of the official tasting list, the beer guys got excited and opened a bottle of Dark Horse Blueberry Stout. This was such a delicious beer to savor. This is a stout with a hint of real blueberry flavor, not a blueberry beer with stout flavor. For a true stout fan, this is the way to go if you want a flavored stout. The alcohol flavor is quite strong, though. Drinking this was like taking a shot of liqueur. I would love to experiment and bake some blueberry muffins with this stout.

Overall we were much more impressed with the Irish table than the American Irish table. Each had its good and bad beers, but the Irish table was more consistent. Then again, they have hundreds of years of tradition going for them.


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