I've often wondered if beer is the nectar of the gods, or simply the urine of yeast, and have come to the conclusion that maybe the yeast ARE gods.
Beer is made by fermentation caused by bacteria feeding on yeast cells and then defecating. In other words, it's a nice tall glass of bacteria doo-doo.
After all, beer is the product of some almost mystical processes that involves the use of a basic list of simple ingredients such as water, hops, yeast and malted barley - right?
Usually. In certain parts of the world, the barley may be supplemented with or replaced by other grains altogether. Like wheat beers, which tend to be thought of as the preserve of western Europe.
They are usually lightly pale, cloudy and strongly spiced (often using coriander and orange peel). My favourite brew Hoegaarden is the perfect example of this.
There are also a number of very different brews produced from malted wheat which come from the British Isles and which often claim ancestry in Gaelic or Celtic mythology. They tend to be a rich golden colour, with little sediment and sporting a variety of citrus flavours.
Recently, while lunching at O'Briens Irish sandwich shop, I discovered a nice little number from Ireland called Moling's Traditional Celtic Beer. This beer is named after the monks who produced the Book of Moling and it's a heady brew which should be poured carefully to keep the head down.
It has a nice floral aroma obviously from a grainy malt, with touches of citrus. For such a simple brew, it is actually pretty complex. You can taste the malt, and a full range of fruit flavours will hit your pallet pleasantly. There's a bitter overtone, making it a pleasant take on the Irish red ale style.
Looking into the brand, I found they also brew O'Hara's Celtic Stout and Curim Gold Celtic Wheat beer, which is brewed using a blend of pale malt, wheat and caramalt. After tasting it, I discovered a lightly hopped tone, which makes for a refreshing light fruity beer with subtle hints of peach, banana and plum. This beer is the perfect compliment to spicy food, and the cure for a hot humid Singaporean afternoon.
All these brews come from a fairly recently established (1998) microbrewery, called the Carlow Brewing Company, located in a small village in the Barrow Valley Region of Ireland - the traditional malt and hop producing region which once boasted a number of breweries.
The brewing tradtions there had been laid aside for over 100 years prior to this revival. While the first two beers show that the Irish don't just brew black beers, O'Hara's Celtic Stout shows that they do that too, and they do it perfectly well. A rich, full bodied brew, it's luxuriously smooth by way of the combination of traditional stout hops, an extra pinch of roast barley and the famously crystal clear Irish water.
It's been said that there are no such things as a bad stout, just that some brands are better than others, this delicious stout ranks high, with just enough malty sweetness to balance the discernible roast bite.
And just who can you thank for bringing these lovely craft-brewed beers to Singapore?
That would be TheBeerClub.com.sg, a specialty on-line beer retailer which just began operations last month. They have ambitious plans to bring great beers from around the world to this world of Dutch Budweiser clones, and they've started with this superb selection of Irish beers.
Additionally, they just expanded with Atomium Premium Grand Cru, a specialty beer from Belgium and gold medal winner of the 2004 Chicago World Beer Championships! Its the only beer in the world brewed from six different types of grains. Check out their website and free delivery offer at www.thebeerclub.com.sg!