Many people are familiar with the wine-making concept of terroir; the particular character common to wines from the same region attributable to the influence of soil type, climate and other things. There’s no real counterpart of terroir in the world of beer. You can brew an Irish stout in Africa, or America, or anywhere else. In fact, the world’s most famous stout is produced in different breweries all over the world from completely different raw materials and using entirely different production processes as a result.
But if beer doesn’t have terroir, at least it has style. Beer styles are combinations of various physical parameters that affect the taste of beer, such as colour, fizziness, alcoholic strength, bitterness, and of course flavour.
Beer styles help people talk about beer and help consumers decide how a beer might taste, at least give you a general idea. (But, really, no amount of reading can tell you what a beer will actually taste like. There’s simply no substitute for experience). At Boyne Brewhouse we produce beers from a variety of different styles.
Our main lager, Long Arm, is a Dortmunder Export style lager. Dortmund is an area in Germany with hard water similar to the brewing water from our well in Drogheda, Co. Meath. Dortmunder is a balanced lager style with a touch of sulphur on the nose from the very light pilsner malt and a moderately hoppy aroma from the Saaz hops. It’s a very clean crisp refreshing style of beer and just the thing if you’re looking for a more traditionally beery tasting beverage.
We also have a one-off special Vienna Lager which is a malty lager, noticeably darker than the Dortmunder, with a complex malt character and moderate, traditional hop aroma. This beer was brewed in January 2017 as a limited edition brew. It’s a double decoction and a very interesting style to brew. For more information on this beer, check out our blog post in January.
The two beers are an excellent pairing and really showcase the difference malt makes to a recipe because the two beers have very similar recipes and hopping rates but the Dortmunder seems so much hoppier than the Vienna because the malt background is much lighter. Try them both and see which you prefer!
We also brew an Amber ale, a Pale ale and an IPA. ‘IPA’ stands for India Pale Ale, but it has come to be associated more with the West Coast of the USA. All these styles are somewhat of a mixed bag and they interpreted differently by different breweries. ‘Pale’ ales can come in a great range of colours, and some breweries pale ales are as dark as our amber.
Our pale ale is genuinely pale, brewed using almost 100% pale (7 EBC) ale malt, with only a drop of light crystal malt to add colour and malt sweetness. We feel this places the hops front and centre and we hop it with a mix of German, Australian, and American hops. The amber ale has more coloured malt, and different hops, another vivid illustration of the effect background malt can have on the perceived hop character of a beer.
The IPA is a new addition to our stable. This beer has a pronounced hop character and it is a testament to the versatility of that wonderful plant. It is bursting with fruity aromas and flavours and smells like a great vat of fruit juice during fermentation even though no fruit is harmed during its production.
I always say the great advantage of a small brewery like ours is that we can be flexible and can play around with ingredients because we’re not trying to brew a 100,000 litres at a time like some breweries out there. We’re not trying to brew something that everyone has to like, but rather we brew a variety of beers so for everyone out there there’s something that they will like. Come and try them all at the Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fair in Dublin later this week (23-25th February 2017).
Andrew Jorgensen, Head Brewer