Shannon Brewing’s Irish Cream Ale Is A Red Hot Variation On The Theme.

Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we’ll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it’s local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!

This week, we sipped on Shannon Brewing Company‘s Irish Cream Ale.

 

Fast Facts on Shannon Brewing Company’s Irish Cream Ale.
Style: Cream Ale (Irish style).
ABV: 5.5 percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 19.
Color: Copper-ish.
Availability: Seasonal, in kegs and cans.

Overview.
Though Shannon Brewing’s website says its Irish Cream Ale is only available in kegs, I somehow managed to find some cans of it at my local Spec’s. Not sure what’s up with that. But, hey: Score!

Shannon, straight out of Keller, prides itself on the fact that their beer is as natural as they can make it. Say what now? Part of this means that it brews beers and then neither filters its beer nor pasteurize it. In the brewery’s words (I am paraphrasing here), Shannon says that leaving its beer in this unfiltered and unpasteurized state makes for better beer. Interesting!

Something else to keep in mind is that the brewery instructs drinkers to consume its beers sooner rather than later — y’know, for optimal tasting’s sake. Prior to penning this review, I accidentally tossed out my PakTech holder with dating info, oops. But I do see the numbers 160537 on the underside of the can that I’m trying — and surely that means something. Let’s assume that I’m drinking a relatively newly-packaged beer with this review.

 

Background on Cream Ale.
According to the 2015 BJCP guidelines, the cream ale style is most closely associated with a light, crisp, lawnmower type of style. The style is refreshing and lowly hopped, with a low to moderate malt character. All in all, the cream ale style is supposed to be an easy drinker, much like the classic American lager style, except with a little bit more stuff going on in flavor town. Oh, and ale yeast.

Appearance.
Irish Cream Ale pours into the glass with a nice, light, almost copper color. At first glance, this beer doesn’t at all look like what I think of when I think of the cream ale style. I was expecting something more akin to a kolsch on the color, but it was not so. I believe that the Irish slant on this beer means that it’s brewed with a slightly different grain bill that imparts a darker finish to the beer. A moderate level of head sticks around for a while here, too. Compared to some other unfiltered beers I have had, this beer is fairly clear, with little to no haze or particulate matter.

Aroma.
On its website, Shannon states this this beer is brewed with an ale yeast and a lager yeast. So I was sort of expecting more of a dry aroma with a tiny hint of lager yeast. It’s just not there. But I like that! What I do get is a crisp whiff of grainy and malty warmth. Behind that is just a kiss of sweetness. Honestly, I thought that there would be more on the nose with this beer, but the aroma experience is sort of muted. It’s not a problem with the beer, it just sort of is what it is.

 

Flavor.
Like the initial aroma notes led me to assume, I did indeed get a malty grainy sensation upon tasting this beer. There is some hop character here, but the hops only play something of a supporting role. The hop flavor provides some needed balance to steer this beer away from the malt bomb it could become if left un-hopped. There is a super subtle flavor of pear going on also, but it’s not overly fruity.

Mouthfeel.
Like the appearance, the mouthfeel also throws a change-up pitch. When I look at this beer, I think it’s going to be something akin to an amber ale with a bit more body and residual sweetness. But it’s not. Irish Cream Ale has a nicely attenuated, somewhat dry finish. While the head may not hang around for the entire glass, the beer keeps a biting, peppy level of carbonation.

Overall Impression.
I’ll admit it: It took a little while for me to come around on this beer. Now I think I need to adjust in my mind what a cream ale is supposed to be. Furthermore, I need to adjust my framework to include the Irish variation on this theme. Does this darker cream ale represent most of the qualities that a cream ale should? Well, yes… I guess? Even though this beer is nicely attenuated and drinks easy, it is certainly not a lawnmower beer. Irish Cream Ale can definitely be drunk in multiples, but it may take a while longer to plow through the malt backbone.

Score.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give Shannon Irish Cream Ale a 7.

 

What’s happening in the area brew scene?
• Friday, June 3. The Ticket’s Hardline Live Broadcast at Oak Highlands Brewery to Benefit Dallas Dog Rescue.Rehab.Reform.
• Saturday, June 4. Craft Brew & Que at Little Elm Park.
• Saturday, June 4. One-Year Anniversary at 3 Nations.
• Saturday, June 11. Untapped: Fort Worth at Panther Island Pavilion.
• Saturday, June 18. Best Little Brew Fest In Texas at Old Town Lewisville.
• Saturday, June 25. Brew Bus Father’s Day Tour.
• Sunday, June 26. Toadies Concert/Hell Below and Stars Above Release Party at Martin House Brewery.
• Saturday, August 6. Local Brews, Local Grooves at House of Blues.
• Saturday, October 1. Texas Beer Camp at Long Road Farm.

Previous On Tap Reviews:
Revolver’s Sangre y Miel: 10.
Peticolas’ Royal Scandal: 10.
Community’s Mosaic IPA: 10.
Peticolas’ Velvet Hammer: 10.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Legion: 10.
Community’s Legion: 10.
Oak Highlands’ Freaky Deaky: 9.5.
Deep Ellum’s Barrel Aged Four Swords: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Saint Dymphna: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Lost Epic: 9.5.
Community’s Ascension Porter: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Temptress: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Goatman: 9.5.
Community’s Public Ale: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Thrilla in Brazilla: 9.5.
On Rotation’s Jalapeno Saison: 9.
Woodcreek’s Bourbon Barrel Bock: 9.
Lakewood’s Wild Manimal: 9.
Revolver’s Blood & Honey: 9.
Martin House’s Imperial Texan: 9.
Community’s Trinity Tripel: 9.
Peticolas’ Irish Goodbye: 9.
Four Corners’ Block Party Porter: 9.
Cedar Creek’s Belgian Dubbel: 9.
Peticolas’ Ghost Of Alfred Brown: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Easy Peasy IPA: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Rock Ryder: 8.5.
Rahr’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
Collective Brewing’s Urban Funk House: 8.
Lakewood’s On Call: 8.
Oak Highlands’ Golden Mustache: 8.
903 Brewers’ Crackin’ Up: 8.
Deep Ellum’s Play Date: 8.
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s 11th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Belgian Tripel: 8.
Noble Rey’s SteamPunk: 8.
903 Brewers’ Citra On Top: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Hissy Fit: 8.
BrainDead’s Gritz: 8.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Inspiration : 8.
Cedar Creek’s Fisticuffs: 8.
Lakewood’s Punkel: 8.
Four Corners’ El Chingon IPA: 8.
Martin House’s Day Break: 8.
Deep Ellum’s GOURDzilla: 8.
Peticolas’ The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
Deep Ellum’s Pale Ale: 8.
Revolver’s Bock: 8.
903 Brewers’ Sasquatch: 8.
Peticolas’ Wintervention: 8.
Armadillo Ale Works’ Brunch Money: 8.
Martin House’s Salsa Verde: 8.
Cedar Creek’s Spinning Mule Robust Porter: 8.
Lakewood’s Holiday Bonus: 8.
Lakewood’s Hop Trapp: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Knock Out: 7.5.
Four Corners’ Notorious O.A.T.: 7.5.
Noble Rey Golden Rey With Raspberries and Ginger: 7.5.
On Rotation Saved By The Belma: 7.5.
True Vine’s Unicorn’s Revenge: 7.5.
Deep Ellum’s Hop Seeker: 7.5.
Four Corners’ El Super Bee: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Hopochondria: 7.5.
Three Nations GPA: 7.5.
Martin House’s Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Antigoon’s Revenge: 7.5.
Community’s Texas Pils: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Zomer Pils: 7.5.
Cedar Creek’s Dankosaurus: 7.5.
Oak Highlands’ Guava Good: 7.
TUPPS Brewery’ Northbound 75: 7.
Rahr & Sons’ Iron Joe: 7.
BrainDead’s I Like Harvey IPA: 7.
Martin House’s Turtle Power: 7.
Collective’s Petite Golden Sour: 7.
Shannon’s Chocolate Stout: 7.
BrainDead’s Red Ale: 7.
Community’s Razzy Raspberry Witbier: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway Blonde Ale: 7.
Bearded Eel’s Purple Unicorn: 7.
Noble Rey’s Off The Leash: 7.
Shannon Brewing Company’s Irish Red: 7.
Texas Ale Project’s Somethin’ Shady: 7.
Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
Cedar Creek’s The Lawn Ranger: 7.
Martin House Brewing Company’s Cellarman’s Reserve IPA (Amarillo).: 7.
Lakewood’s Till & Toil: 7.
903 Brewers’ The Chosen One: 7.
903 Brewers’ Sugar On Top: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway XPA: 7.
Armadillo Ale Work’s Quakertown Stout: 7.
Revolver’s High Brass: 7.
Community’s Pale Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Chump Change: 7.
Martin House’s River House: 7.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Sir William’s Brown Ale: 7.
Community’s Funnel Cake Ale: 7.
Audacity’s Boss Raptor IPA: 7.
Collective Brewing Project’s Mom Azacca: 6.5.
Four Corners’ La Lechuza: 6.5.
Revolver’s Ironhead IPA: 6.5.
903 Brewers’ Trot Line: 6.5.
Peticolas’ Operation Collaboration: 6.5.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Nightwatch: 6.5.
Peticolas’ The Duke: 6.5.
Deep Ellum’s Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
Nine Bands’ Cactus Cat: 6.
Martin House’s Kafkaesque: 6.
TUPPS’ Cotton Mill Gold: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Tweedleyum: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Off With Your Red: 6.
Cedar Creek’s Elliott’s Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Lakefire: 6
Armadillo Ale Works’ WunderMelon: 6
Deep Ellum Pale Ale: 6
Lakewood’s La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
Martin House’s Mind On My Money: 5.
903 Brewers’ The Land Of Milk And Honey: 5.
Deep Ellum’s Numb Comfort: 5.
Four Bullets’ Black Jack Brown: 4.5.
Four Corners Heart O’ Texas: 4.
Audacity’s Sunset Boulevard: 4.
Shannon Brewing Company’s IPA: 4.
Grapevine’s Monarch: 4.
Twin Peaks’ Dirty Blonde: 3.
Franconia Wheat: 3.
Miller Lite: 1.

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