06 Dec Rascals Beers of the Year 2021
What was your favourite Rascals beer of 2021? Our favourite was all of them. Little did we know that when we entered 2021 we’d still be dealing with that f***ing virus twelve months later. Hey, whaddayagonnado? It is what it is. We didn’t it let stop us brewing some top quality beers here in Inchicore over the past year.
In January we brewed The Breakfast of Champions with our Dublin 8 neighbours Imbibe Coffee. This was an oatmeal stout like no other. Kaleidoscope was the name of the coffee blend used and it had a wonderful red berry aroma from the beans. The base recipe of the Breakfast of Champions had a generous helping of chocolate wheat and café malt; we also used plenty of oats and some lactose too. We even added a few cacao nibs just because we know how well they would complement the beer. Combine all the ingredients and you had yourself the breakfast stout of champions! It just about got us through January 2021. Stout season continued into February with the re-release of our beloved Milkshake Stout.
It’s a rich, creamy stout, bursting with coconut, sweet vanilla and dark chocolate flavour. Perfect for enduring the spirit-crushing misery of lockdown cosy, fireside winter afternoons. (While February is the first month of spring let’s not kid ourselves into thinking the weather is anything but wintry.) As we trudged wearily into March, there was only one thing for it: a dual release of Southern Hemisphere-hopped beers!
These were such a tremendous pair of beers. We made great use of amazing hops from Sunrise Valley, New Zealand, the home of Freestyle Hops. For more than fifty years Bruce and Betty Eggers have been farming the most aromatic and flavoursome hops in the world. Their passion led them to create two wonderful blends: the Bruce Hop and the Betty Hop. A carefully created combination of early Nelson Sauvin and Motueka, mid Southern Cross and late Pacifica gives us Bruce. As for the Betty blend, well they’ve decided to keep that a secret! We used both for the March dual release: Betty’s dry-hopped New Zealand 4.5% Helles lager and Bruce’s hazy New Zealand 6.2% IPA. The former was a bright lager with a crisp, refreshing finish, offering gooseberry and lime flavours and aromas. The latter was a full-bodied IPA with ripe tropical fruit, citrus peel flavours and a perfectly balanced sweetness. Easily two of the best beers we’ve ever made. And that gave us all the lift we needed as we brought back a firm favourite in April.
Strawberry Vanilla Shake IPA is an absolute beauty. It’s an IPA brewed with lots of wheat and oats for body, strawberries, vanilla and lactose for sweetness and lots of Citra and Mosaic hops to boost the fruity strawberry milkshake effect. It’s a marvellous late-spring-summer-is-on-the-way kind of beer and we all looked ahead to the lifting of restrictions and dreamed of better days ahead. What a bunch of naïve fools we were. But we still had plenty of brewing to do! A summer sour was in the pipeline and it was the rebirth of a beer previously known as Dublinerweisse Raspberry Milk Sugar. We called the new incarnation: Red & Berried.
This was a fruity sour ale brewed with raspberry puree and lactose for a delicate sweetness. Superb raspberry flavour with smooth pillowy mouthfeel! The days were longer and the summer truly arrived when we released Rice Rice Baby. Obviously the name is fantastic but the beer was nothing short of sensational too. It was a 4.9% rice lager brewed with pure lemon and lime zest for a proper tangy, zingy citrus flavour which really complemented the style. The beer was refreshingly dry so you enjoyed a superb lemon and lime flavour on top of that taste experience. With this beer we used Citra hops: the most citrusy aroma hop in the world of beer. It was an exceedingly simple and subtle lager.
We had a heatwave during the summer, remember that? It wasn’t a particularly long one but it was a heatwave nonetheless. Siamese Dream was therefore a very apt beer released in June. It was a collaboration we did with Hopfully Brewing and it was a gorgeous summery brew. It was a 4.5% tropical ale which reached every corner of the palate with aromatic sweet pink guava, lime zest and coconut. The beer was brewed with Sabro and Sorachi Ace hops. The latter is a Japanese hop known for its lemon, coconut and even bubblegum properties. Meanwhile, Sabro hops offer fruity and herbal flavours and aromas, with noticeable coconut, sweet citrus and tropical fruit characteristics. What a beer!
However June also saw us bring out a very special birthday beer to mark seven years of Rascals Brewing. We called it 777 and it was a big, hazy full-bodied 7% IPA. The malt profile included naked oat malt, flaked oats and wheat malt to create a lovely quaffable, pillowy mouthfeel. The incredible aroma and flavour were driven by an abundance of Idaho 7 hops, both in the whirlpool and again in the dry-hop. We also supplemented the brew with Citra and Galaxy in the dry-hop, just to really juice up our anniversary ale. Your taste buds were indulged with everything from peach to grapefruit and apricot to papaya. Overall the stone fruit flavours brilliantly balanced the pithy bitterness.
The next big brewing milestone in 2021 was the introduction of a new core beer. Hazy In Love was launched in early August and it’s a little humdinger. This is a hazy 5% IPA hopped with Citra, Mosaic and Ekuanot. Not only does it have all the flavour and aroma profile you’d expect from those world-class hops, but we’ve added wheat and oats to give a lovely hazy appearance and smooth mouthfeel. There’s an instant hit of apricot and nectarine on the nose, followed up with a delightful candied peach and subtle orange flavour. It’s wrapped up with a restrained bitterness which leaves you eager for another mouthful. Cloudy, juicy, hoppy, crushable: it’s a case of love at first sip! Why not try some for yourself if you haven’t already? It’s on sale here. Our next beer, however, cause a bit of a frenzy that nobody truly expected.
Since March we had been working with Club on developing a Rock Shandy Pale Ale. We thought to ourselves: ‘Yeah, this will be good craic! People will probably like this!’ So we got to work creating the exact taste a person would expect from a beer version of the classic Rock Shandy soft drink. I think it’s fair to say it was a pretty damn fine tasting beer. We put it on sale and all hell broke loose. It was sold out online in a day and a half and we had every can snapped up at our off-licence in two days. It was a crazy word-of-mouth phenomenon – as well as brilliant marketing of course. We can never underestimate the amazing marketing and we must give full credit to the amazing marketing manager whose amazingness knows no limits.
So naturally enough we strove to get out a second limited edition batch before too long. There were endless amounts of direct messages and emails asking where any remaining stock could be got and what plans we had for its return, which was brilliant to see. It’s not often you hit on something that becomes – literally – an instant success. A second batch was duly re-released, but someone (probably the brilliant marketing manager) decided to advertise a specific time and date for the relaunch. What could go wrong? Well, everyone logged on to buy the beer and the website crashed and many people were angry and unsure if their order had been processed. Oh dear. It was just a tad stressful, as people say when they deliberately understate something but actual mean it was a hellish, traumatizing experience. But sure lookit, it’s not a bad complaint to have is it? Yerra, tis not.
In September we brought back an absolute banger of a beer: Born Sippy. It’s a dry-hopped and unfiltered Bavaraian style lager, coming in at a very handy 4.6%. During the boil, prior to fermentation, we added Magnum hops, Mittelfruh hops and a relatively new German hop on the block: Tango. These have been described as ‘a huge splash into the world of big juicy Pacific Northwest-style hops’. Then in the whirlpool we added more Tango and also Mandarina Bavaria to really get that Bavarian beer accent. To the dry-hopping next and we added more Tango, more Mandarina Bavaria and we also came at the brew with some Sabro and Cascade. Yet this isn’t an overly hoppy lager, not at all. We’re talking gentle and subtle: all the hops work together to create a soft, floral and slightly-citrus beer which is immensely drinkable. The simple malt bill and Helles yeast deliver a super clear and clean beer, very rounded and not overly bitter. Bag a few cans of it here.
The design is class, isn’t it? That’s the handiwork of Triona O’Donoghue, our designer. Top quality work as always. While Triona has been on maternity leave we’ve been lucky enough to have Rachael Martin step in and her brilliant work is seen in Southern Cross, our final limited edition release of 2021. For this beer we packed in a load of wheat, oats and Vienna malt, on top of our base pale malt, to really deliver a proper cloudy appearance and soft mouthfeel. We used Motueka hops in the boil to keep the bitterness at a distance. These hops have a unique flavor and aroma of fresh tropical limes with a zesty character. In the whirlpool we added Vic Secret and Nelson Sauvin. The latter imparts grape and fresh crushed gooseberries flavours to beers, while the former brings clean pineapple and passionfruit to the table. The beer was then dry-hopped with Motueka and Nelson, but also with Bruce hops: adding mango, lychee and citrus peel to the palette of fruity flavours and aromas. The result is a very full-bodied, chewy IPA with a subtle dankness, offering the best that Southern Hemisphere hops can bring to a beer! You can buy some here but you’d want to get your skates on before it sells out.
Of course we had a bit of fun throughout the year with various ‘concept beers’, as we like to call them. This one was inspired by a rather popular TV show and perhaps the most talked-about series of the year:
And we also had a bit of craic with some Halloween themed beers – cheers to Rachael for some stellar punning and design with these spooktacular frighteningly good beers:
And we were delighted and quite literally buzzin’ to team up with Today FM’s Dec Pierce and release an extremely limited money-can’t-buy can of Blok Rokn Beer to celebrate his Block Rockin’ Beats tour and, by extension, one of the best radio shows in the country right now.
Throughout the year we also kept our pilot brewing kit extremely busy, producing some very exciting experimental beers and delving into new and different styles. These beers are exclusively on tap at Rascals HQ so be sure to keep an eye on our social channels for regular tap list updates. We’re very excited about our beer plans for 2022, which include two special collaborations (one being an international affair), the return of The Big Smoke, a pretty deadly dual release next spring, the return of a summer favourite… and a whole lot more. Thanks to all our customers for being so supportive and sound throughout the year and a happy Christmas to all of yiz!