I wrote a few blog posts last year dealing with Stash Killing, y’know, when you have a few bottles of whatever ageing away in a dark corner somewhere and then bring them out after many years to see how they fare now. These beers are usually barley wines or imperial stouts as they have a high ABV level, which means they lend themselves more favourably to be stored away for a year… or seven. Today it’s a couple of imperials from two of Ireland’s brewing behemoths.
Founded in 2009, Galway Bay Brewery has been producing the now iconic Two Hundred Fathoms barrel aged whiskey stout since 2014. That first version was met with such critical acclaim that the guys behind the brewing literally had no choice but to go again the following year, and then again the year after, and again after that. If you know the Irish beer scene you’ll know of the anticipation surrounding the annual release of this.
I had the great privilege to attend a bottle share this time last year where quite a few Two Hundred Fathoms versions were on show, going all the way back to 2016. A 2017 bottle was part of the line up, and I noted it had thinned out but still retained some of that rich and boozy Christmas cake feel. One year on, and after a very stressful day involving renovations and annoying builders, I popped the wax cap on my final 2017 bottle (Batch #0311). Just for me, myself and I.
Now over six and a half years old, there’s very little to indicate this 10% ABV stout was once in a Teeling Irish Whiskey cask. Something dramatic has occurred in the past twelve months. Whereas last year I noted plenty of boozy cake, now it’s all about raisins, molasses and brown sugar. Maybe add a dab of nutmeg into the mix too. It’s not thinned out much more since last year but there’s still a lot of appealing natural sweetness combined with a welcoming smooth chocolate creaminess. However if you’re looking for a whiskey hit, it don’t live here no more.
Another giant of the Irish brewing scene is Boundary of Belfast. In addition to its core range, the Newtownards Road brewery usually churns out an average of three or four new beers a month and one of those from spring 2022 is the 10% ABV stout No Comma Before Please.
It’s been in a can for just over eighteen months and such is the expeditious new beer schedule at Boundary, this could easily have passed you by when it was released. As is the case with most Boundary beers, when it’s gone it’s gone. If you didn’t buy this at the time, you’ll not get it now. I’m a fan of coconut and chilli so when a new beer with coconut AND chilli pops up on the market, I’ll try to make a special effort to find it. As with 200F, the high ABV of No Comma Before Please isn’t overly apparent. It’s creamy from the vanilla more so than coconut and it’s lacking my preferred amount of coconut – and chilli for that matter. I don’t want a chilli beer to blow my head off but I like certainly do like one to have a bit more of a tingle than I get here. It all depends on our own spice tolerance I suppose – one person’s jalfrezi is another person’s vindaloo. It was still very tasty but I don’t think it’s got better or even changed much in the past 18 months since I had the first can so if you have one in the stash, you decide whether to keep it or crack it open now.
Happy New Year everyone. I hope your beery wishes come true and you get to enjoy a quare load of fantastic swallies with good friends in 2024.