Welcome back to “Beer of the Week”! This weeks review was written by NHC member Bubbles. Visit the members-only “Beer Reviews“ section to submit your own review.
Comeragh Challenger is the newly released summer seasonal from Dungarvan Brewing Company. It’s cheekily described as an “Irish Bitter”, despite the English provenance of it’s ingredients. This is very much an English-style session ale and wears it influences on it’s sleeve.
This beer is single-hopped with Challenger. This English varietal is a dual-purpose hop, used for both bittering and aroma, and normally clocks in around 8% alpha acids. Challenger was first bred in 1972 from Northern Brewer and a disease-resistant German varietal. A quick flick through Graham Wheeler’s recipes “Brew Your Own British Real Ale” book will show how frequently the hop is used in commercial English bitters and pale ales.
The bottle is well-chilled as it taken out of the fridge and poured into an ale tankard. As this is a bottle-conditioned ale, it was was poured carefully. It pours with barely a finger of foam which dissipates rather quickly. Slight chill haze, with an attractive amber colour. It has that distinctive English yeast “nose” and a rich, malty aroma.
The maltiness and distinctive English yeast carry through to the flavour. Comeragh Challenger certainly punches above it’s weight for what is a 3.8% ABV ale. I’m pretty sure there’s a touch of roasted malt in the grist – it’s probably done for colour adjustment but a little touch of roast definitely carries over in the flavour. There’s also bags of yeast-derived fruitiness. The malt flavours really develop in the glass as the beer warms up so I’d really recommend drinking this beer a little warmer than usual. The considerable hop character is both floral and spicy. I’ve never used Challenger in an English ale before, but on the strength of this beer, I’ll definitely add it to the shopping list.
It’s medium-bodied, but the English yeast leaves just enough body to keep it satisfying and refreshing. The carbonation level is typical of bottled English ales, but not as light as I’d like. This style of beer really begs to be served from the cask.
If attempting a clone of this beer I’d recommend a look through the aforementioned “Brew Your Own British Real Ale” book or check out these “Ordinary Bitter” recipes on BeerSmith. My own personal recommendation is to use a 150 EBC crystal malt if attempting to brew a similar beer, as the flavour is quite similar.
Visit the Dungarvan Brewing Company website for a list of stockists.
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