Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hello old friend

In the past on my walk home from work I was fortunate to have the option of two off licences selling good beer in the days when good beer wasn't all that common in Dublin. Closest was Sweeney's, a small pleasant smelling shop with a vast amount of wine crammed in it and, for the time, an excellent selection of beer. I distinctly remember having my first conversation about craft beer - Sierra Nevada pale ale - with the bloke who worked there and was astounded that, firstly, he knew what SNPA was and secondly, he actually had an opinion about it. Sweeney's was a wonderful source of decent after work beer for a few years until the shop was closed and the business moved to a much larger, finer building a kilometre away, but sadly not on my work route. It was bitter sweet because while I was irked by the removal of a very handy supply of good beer, the new shop expanded its stock and really took craft beer to its heart, stocking a very impressive range of beer, and not all that far from where I lived.

This left me with my second home bound off licence - Sheils, about 400 metres up the street on the opposite side to Sweeney's. The selection was never as good as Sweeney's but it was solid and more importantly for today's missive, it introduced me to Jever Pilsner. Back then I found it on special offer in a six pack of 330ml bottles. I had never heard of it, but it was cheap, German and in a handy cardboard carrier. All positives to my mind. I took a pack home and never had reason to regret my decision. It was packed with flavour and hugely satisfying. I later found out that Jever has something of a cult following in parts of its homeland. I can see why because it does offer a great deal more than most of the mass produced German lagers. Sadly Sheils has also closed down, a victim of the recession rather than any hopes of expansion and thus I am left bereft of beer options on my walk home.

I chanced upon Jever once again a few weeks ago in Mc Hugh's, another fine Dublin off licence. This time it came in a more respectable 500ml bottle and while purchasing some for the bank holiday weekend I mused over whether this beer would still offer me what it did all those years ago. There are many more miles on my palate since then, including beers that are more than a match in the flavour stakes for Jever. Thankfully it stood the test of time, offering a crisp hop profile and uncompromising bitterness. I appreciated the malt aspect a bit more, not really recalling it at all last time, but the hops and bitterness were a novelty back then.

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