I don’t get to the NW very often so an invite to tour Kells‘s expanded brewing space and try their beer was one I wasn’t going to turn down. I hadn’t even known they were brewing, you know?
I quickly met Gerard, the owner, who was kind enough to fill me in on the history of the place and the story behind getting a new one. Apparently it was cheaper to put a brewery in the NW site than to try and add it to the Downtown one, because of plumbing costs but since he had always hoped to have a brewery, he wasn’t going to pass on this opportunity. Dave, formerly of Lucky Lab and Garrett, who apprenticed at breweries in Argentina, were also on hand to talk about the beers they had made, a great deal of pride in their voices and with good reason: they had made some very tasty beers.
We were given samples of the current efforts, and the following is my semi-edited notes on them. (As an aside, they gave us some food to pair with each beer, and the food was well done and tasty but this is a beer blog, so I won’t talk much more about that.)
Irish lager: used a German yeast strain, had a nice bready end with a clean finish. Drinkable as all get out. It would wash away the taste of a fish & chips bite, without getting you any fuller. I overheard Dave talk about the creamy finish of this beer and he’s right-but I like that finish. He wants it more carbonated, and apparently the method that they use to server the lager downtown provides it (I heard something about how CO2 is injected but I didn’t catch the whole conversation.) What I find cool about this is how something that I would have thought was really ironed out by now-how beer is served from the tap-can shift a the flavor.
The amber is a beer you want to let warm up, I think. The hues of malt flavor grow after a few minutes, lasting for a bit longer which I preferred. They went with NW hops instead of English, because the NW hops were fresher. Since the beer is lower in alcohol, they want to provide the best ingredients they can, ensuring customers get their money’s worth. It has a hint of cherry at the end, which I’m told is a note of sour from the yeast. Dave mentioned using the same yeast as Guinness to provide this, telling me that yeast-influenced flavors were his favorite beer styles.
Finally, the Irish pale ale; hint of soap in the nose but that quickly evaporates for something tilting more floral, with a pine finish. They did some nice work here: it’s an IPA with a nice malt bridge but it’s not too heavy, so a few pints can be drunk. This was, the brewers admit, the point. This beer also uses the Guinness yeast, so there is a sour touch after the hops. Somehow, this works; a slight plot twist that makes things work out.
All the beers finished very cleanly and were really good, I thought. Plus, now that they have expanded, they are looking forward to making seasonal ales, including (naturally) an Irish stout. However, next on their agenda was an imperial brown ale for the Holiday Ale fest, which I am very much looking forward to.