Weird Beard - Ulster Exile Collaboration
Barrel Aged Veda Bread Porter - 8.4% ABV
Ulster Says... Yes Please!
Now here is a Special Beer that I have been eagerly waiting to try.
So what makes it so special?
Allow me to give you three reasons...
1. It contains Veda Bread.
For those of you who don't know about Veda Bread then the likelihood is that you haven't spent enough time in Northern Ireland. Basically, it is one of our home grown delicacies and is a small, malty, caramel flavoured loaf. It's notoriously difficult to get hold of outside the province and is only really produced here.
I remember being brought food packages containing Veda, potato bread and of course Tayto Crisps when family used to come and visit me at Uni many years ago.
Needless to say, a beer made from this sounds bloody brilliant.
2. It's aged in Irish Whiskey Barrels that were supplied by a local brewery - The Quiet Man.
Barrel Aged Porter - Need I say anymore!
3. It's brewed entirely by Ulstermen/woman currently living and working outside the Province.
As a former 'Norn Iron' expat myself (having lived in England for 15 years), it used to be great to meet other people with the same accent and discuss such things like, when Northern Ireland beat England at football, ridiculous Irish Easter Closing Times and how good Ulster Fry's are. I love the fact that a group of 'Ulster folk' have got together for this collaboration and I especially love the thought that similar conversations may have been taking place over the brewing of this beer.
So I think it's clear to see that I'm pretty excited and as a passionate Ulsterman and Beer Enthusiast, a Veda Bread, Barrel Aged Porter sounds, quite simply - "Pure Beaut!"
This beer was officially launched on Friday passed in the Woodworkers Bar, Belfast. I was gutted to miss the event and getting to meet the brewers but I still managed to nab myself a fews bottles to review.
So as they say back here, "Let's Get' er Lit"...
In The Glass:
Dark with the slightest hint of red. A good creamy head and a prominent lacing of tiny bubbles around the sides.
On The Nose:
Whiskey comes through strongly on the aroma with a figgy hint and a oak like spiciness rounding it off.
This is a hefty beer no doubt, with plenty of strong Whiskey flavours.
The mouthfeel is heavy but smooth as the Veda Bread adds a malty goodness and body to the beer. Carbonation is lively which succeeds in giving this Porter a sparkling character to go nicely with it's dark and corpulent demeanour.
The flavours are rich and complex. As with the aroma, the big taste of whiskey is undeniable and it is the dominant flavour in this brew. The strong Alcoholic essence of the beer gives you a swift backhand as soon as the glass touches your lips. Whilst some people may find it to be a bit overpowering, I think they've got it just right.
A thick and malty Porter like this needs to have some decent muscle behind it and Mesca Ulad certainly has that. It actually tastes stronger than the 8.4% ABV would suggest and it is perhaps very apt that the name translates as 'The Intoxication of the Ulstermen'.
But whilst the taste of whiskey plays first fiddle with each mouthful, it doesn't have that harshness that can be found in some similar strength barrel aged Porters and Stouts. With this beer, there isn't so much of an alcoholic burn as you drink but rather a head clearing warmth that heats the body and soothes the soul.
There's more to this brew than just Whiskey though. There's a real sweetness with a slight fruitiness at the backend. The Veda flavours are in there and can be detected more as the beer warms up. It's certainly one to be sipped and savoured from a hand warmed brandy glass and a comfortable chair.
Overall this is a fantastic Imperial Porter and a pleasant change to the norm. It's rich and full bodied and at 8.4% ABV it isn't pulling any punches. It's definitely one that will be appreciated by the Northern Irish Massive and I highly recommend getting yourself a bottle while they're available.
As they say back home - This Beer is "Suckin Diesel" (not literally of course!) 🍻
*If anyone would like to try this beer for themselves, and I recommend that you do, they are currently available in off-licenses throughout the province. I'm not sure if they will be available to buy in Southern Ireland or GB as it is a limited batch. Like Veda Bread itself, you may just have to get friends or family to send you over a bottle 😉
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