Go Fork Yourself: Smithwick’s Winter Spirit Brew
There is noting new in saying the craft beer industry is finding it’s legs in Ireland – it’s overdue, welcome, and somewhere there is an argument waiting to be made, that beer we savour and drink more respectfully could be a healthy way for our drinking culture to evolve. There may have been a time when we didn’t know how to engage with an ale and no doubt Smithwick’s suffered as a result. Now, the energised creativity in beer production in Ireland has called on established firms to respond, as much as it has offered new outlets for start-ups. Smithwick’s has already diverged from its amber parent ale with a citrussy Pale Ale and this month they have launched Smithwick’s Winter Spirit Brew, the first of a proposed range of seasonal ales.
The name Winter Spirit suggests it might be the ale of choice of the Ghost of Christmas to Come or otherwise pop up in fire-lit settings. And the rich, roasted caramel flavours and colour of the ale do offer a remedy to the cold – not in a numbing, unchallenging way however – the ale has a complexity and invites you to decipher the flavours. The key flavour platform is roasted barley which gives great body and means the ale wraps itself to the back of your throat. A sweetness comes through so that the beer is refreshing but still rich with flavour. The promise of the beer is clear in that it can be enjoyed at room temperature, and fridge-cold, there and highs and lows of flavour and taste to experience at all points.
The dark oak tones of the ale sat well with the surroundings of the Stags Head where the limited edition run on the ale was launched. Ramp was lucky enough to be invited along to sample the ale and what impressed most was the enthusiasm of Smithwick’s Master Brewer/Production Manager Alan Dempsey in presenting the ale, and also his relish at getting to innovate. It’s clear that the talent and appetite is here for craft beer; more please.