When I asked for suggestions for this week’s Craft Beer of the Week on Twitter, Shane Clifford from Blackbird in Rathmines was quick to suggest I come in and try Vietnow, a new beer brewed especially for Blackbird, P Mac’s and Cassidy’s by Trouble Brewing. He even promised free tasters, so I decided to make my way over there to see what it’s all about.
If you haven’t been to Blackbird yet, you must definitely rectify that situation ASAP. It’s all kinds of deadly. Just check out their Twitter page for the pics and you’ll see that it’s a bit mental in a genius way. If you’re a fan of Star Wars or St. Pauli, you’ll be in heaven amidst all the paraphernalia. And even if not, you’ll find a lot of curiosities to look at around the place. They have things like a bed to chill out in and a snug in the middle of the floor that has an actual front door with a knocker and a number on it. And of course they have a brilliant selection of craft beers on tap, in bottles and in cans. Blackbird has been a hit with customers ever since it opened and has quickly established itself a much-needed oasis of craft beer in Rathmines. We chatted to the lovely Damien, whose job (according to him) basically entails wearing a dickie bow and walking around the floor and handing out free crisps and sweets. He told us that Blackbird is getting more jammers by the day. So much so that they don’t have enough room behind the bar to store all the glasses they need in one night. That’s a sign of success if I’ve ever seen one.
Upon arrival, Shane (the fella without the dickie bow) wasted no time and promptly supplied me with a “taster" (pint) of Vietnow as I quizzed him about their motives behind getting this beer made. He explained that they wanted to create something really, really hoppy that tasted similar to Brew Dog’s Punk IPA, but that they could give to customers for a better price than Punk.
They approached Stephen from Trouble Brewing who was happy to get the beer brewed to the specs they gave him. Trouble Brewing has been around since 2009 and is based in Kildare. They’ve brewed about 15 different beers and you’ve probably seen them around in pubs and off licenses. Their story is one we’ve heard from many breweries: three friends, Thomas Prior, Stephen Clinch and Paul O’Connor, got together to do something about the fact that there was not enough variety in the beers available in Ireland at the time. Their head brewer is Mark Nixon who moved home to Ireland after working at the East London Brewing Company. Trouble even have their own well, less than 10 metres from the brew house! And for the techie heads, they’re the only Irish brewery that accepts payment in Bitcoin.
Shane went on to say that to make sure Vietnow really was as hoppy as possible, they asked Trouble to put 6 (yes, SIX) different hops in it. This beer is definitely not for people who are afraid of a hop assault. The colour is lovely and golden and it has a nice, creamy head. The aroma is all hops and pine, and so is the taste. And wow, it tastes feckin fantastic. It is so hoppy it could knock you off your chair. But hoppy in a good way that doesn’t completely numb your taste buds. It’s also extremely addictive. Not only did they make a beer that tastes like Punk IPA, this beer tastes better than Punk IPA. Yes, I went there. Trust me. The ultimate proof was delivered by Lovin’ Dublin’s very own Nicola, who was there with me for a “business meeting” (stay tuned for more info on what we’re plotting). Nicola was a big fan of Vietnow as well, and then decided to get a Punk IPA next, which is one of her favourites. But believe it or not, she went straight back to Vietnow after, “because it’s nicer”. Yes, it is. Once you’ve had Vietnow, Punk IPA kinda leaves you cold. Vietnow is hoppier and tastier. Besides Trouble’s Pumpkin Brew which is a Halloween special, Vietnow is officially my favourite beer Trouble Brewing have ever made. I urge you all to get into one of the 3 pubs and try this while it’s still there. I really hope it never goes away though! Delish.