This week, you could be forgiven for thinking that even the craft beers are dressing up for Halloween. A new beer is appearing on the shelves around Dublin, and it’s an amber ale called “Irish Blond”. Yep, a blond redhead. By a brewery called “Reel Deel”. Confused yet? So was I. So I set out to bring some clarity to this whole situation.
First of all, what’s the deal with “Reel Deel”? Reel Deel is a brand new brewery in Crossmolina, Co. Mayo. It was set up by a Yorkshire lad called Marcus and his wife Catherine whose parents are from Crossmolina. Marcus had been a homebrewer since the 80s and had a fair few years of all-grain brewing behind him when they moved to Mayo. He quickly realised that Mayo was a barren desert in terms of craft beer at the time, so he decided to open his own brewery. The “Deel” part of the name comes from the River Deel that runs through Crossmolina, and “Reel” is a nod to their strong connection with Irish traditional music.
So that’s that cleared up, now let’s get down to the beer. Thanks to James from the brilliant Vanguard Beer Collective who distribute this beer in Dublin, I was able to sample this beer as soon as it arrived on this side of the island. I was intrigued. An amber ale called “Irish Blond”? “Strawberry blond” comes to mind, and that’s exactly what Reel Deel are going for. According to their website, “Like most Irish Blonds, at heart, she’s a redhead!!” Okay, makes sense. But what has this mysterious redhead blonde got in store?
In appearance, Irish Blond is a rich amber colour with a medium white head that disappears quite quickly. On the nose, the hops are strong, combined with lots of citrus aromas. At first, this beer tastes very hoppy. In fact, in the first few sips it tastes like one of the hoppiest amber ales around. Citrus fruits and spicy notes are at the forefront. But as you go on you taste quite the transformation. This redhead quickly calms down and reveals its sweeter, malty side. However, the hops stay prominent in the taste almost until the very end. This is definitely going to surprise those who are looking for a malty red or amber ale, because that it is not. It’s an amber that will be enjoyed by hop heads. But if you like hops, you should definitely give this beer a try. Irish Blond is extremely well crafted to an impressive standard, especially for a debut beer. It is very refined and, like any bold redhead, definitely not afraid to do its own thing and break the rules.
As the old Irish saying goes, “If you want trouble, find yourself a redhead.” Go looking for this one, it’s a special one!