The best cask-aged beers? ‘It’s just like talking about wine’
Another Round: John Wilson on how Dot Brew has developed with help from a key fan
Dot Brew: Shane Kelly’s Irish craft brewery made a beer using Champagne yeast and white-wine casks; the dab of orange paint is a nod to old, unlabelled Belgian beers that were identified by colour. Photograph: Tom O’Hora
Redmonds of Ranelagh, the south Dublin off-licence, began selling interesting beer at least 20 years ago. “We wanted to offer three premium strands: wine, spirits and beer,” Jimmy Redmond says. “Back then they were called premium, today craft. Because we started early, we have always had a market for the new and exciting beers. We started bringing in a few Belgian beers, but some were too advanced for the Irish palate. Slowly the small distributors began to fill the void. Then the Irish craft beers started. It has always been a small, cottage, craft industry, and it still is.”
Shane Kelly’s Dot Brew is one of his favourites. “When he started, five or six years ago, he used to drop in with various beers, and we would talk about what we liked and what we didn’t. It was almost home-brewing at the time. He would ask, ‘Did you get this?’ or, ‘Did you get that?’ It was just like talking about wine.”
Kelly’s speciality is cask-aged beers. “He once made a Belgian-style beer brewed with Champagne yeast in white-wine casks. There was no label, just a dab of orange paint – a nod to old, unlabelled Belgian beers that were identified by colour. The beer was great. So far he has done tequila, Amarone, various whiskies and both red and white wine. He is currently brewing two Christmas beers in madeira casks, a pale ale and a stout, exclusively for Redmonds.”
Dot Brew also brews more mainstream beers, all highly rated by Redmond. He recommends seeking out its current releases, Detour IPA, Running on Pale Ale, Dipper Double IPA and Intersection Amber.
Mescan is the other Irish brewery that gets Redmond excited: “Two Irish guys, members of the Belgian brewers’ federation, making great Belgian-style beers in the wilds of Mayo.”