Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Beer: McGargles Uncle Jim & Cousin Rosie - Family Matters

I'm aware that I'm (possibly) not the best judge of beer in the world - and I know that's a shock to some of you - but I get quite annoyed by people who knock beers for ridiculous reasons. Their main issue seems to be that they just don't like a particular beer, either because its taste doesn't appeal to them, its not radical enough or because it wasn't what they thought it was - it wasn't 'to style'. Some tend to jump on the band wagon of hating a company, or beer, because others do - beer peer pressure of the worst kind - and then they post their opinions on social media with no reasons for their comments. How helpful is that?

Not liking a beer isn't the same as having a 'bad' beer.

(And yes of course there are a few badly made beers out there or you can be unlucky and get an infected beer but a that's different issue and not very common in my opinion.)

There's also another related issue ... and that's that many drinkers assume that craft beer needs to be more extreme than macro beers. But why should that be? Can it not taste much the same as a macro version and still appeal to certain consumers such as those who want, say, a locally produced product for example? After all, with most of the beer drinking population drinking macro beer then perhaps the unique selling point should be based on something other than stronger taste, as radical as that might sound!

I don't expect you to agree with me - I imagine you won't - but sometimes a beer just needs to be a beer.

It's something I often forget myself.


The McGargles range by Rye River Brewing in Kildare has never really appealed to me (although some of their other beers have!), but not for any one good reason. The fact that their beers come in 4 packs annoyed the beer ticker in me and their choice of marketing style offended my eyes, seeming to pander to that mock 'Oirish' look so favoured by plastic paddies across the water. (Perhaps I was subliminally paying attention to other's comments too much too?) Not the best reasons to avoid a beer range I admit ...

But recently I came across a couple of stray McGargles that had escaped from the rest of their family. So the opportunity presented itself for me to pick up a couple of the beers that I had been curious - but not that curious - about.

Jim was loitering behind a couple of Polish lagers and a Belgian dubbel in my local off licence when I found him. He looked kind of shifty after escaping from his mixed four pack, the rest of his family having succumbed to the wet-carton-drop or the slippery-hand-fail I presume. Anyhow I felt a little sorry for him, with his dishevelled looks and scratched cap and took him home.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this stout, apart from the fact that it would be, er, stout-like, so with an open mind I opened him up and poured him out.

Uncle Jim's Stout has a pretty light body with a flavour of weak cola and a hint of treacle, with just a touch of burnt toast. And those comments are not meant in a disparaging way, it is quite a pleasant stout, and as it warmed up and my palate adjusted, it became a little less like burnt toast and a little more dark chocolatey, but the body was still a little light for me. I'm not sure if it is available on nitro or on cask(!) but I think either way might suit my palate more, by giving it more of a perceived creamy taste. There's certainly nothing wrong with it and it would be an ideal stout for anyone who wanted to move into craft beer from macro, and one that I would recommend to my stout drinking friends.

Poor Rosie was another castaway, set drift in a sea of Mexican lagers and alcopops in the bargain basket in my local supermarket. Jetsam from a stray pack again or perhaps just discarded in error. Either way I picked her up, paid for her with the rest of my shopping, half hidden under a sliced pan like a dirty magazine. My embarrassment compounded when the lady on the till had to get a price check on Rosie. Shrouded in shame I skulked home with Rosie under wraps.

Cousin Rosie's Pale Ale smelled great for starters, citrus and a hint of mint hit my nose as I took my first taste, which proceeded to back up the pleasant aroma. This was a nice pale ale, very like the annoyingly named session IPAs that have started to hit the shelves recently. Like Uncle Jim, the body was a tad light but not watery by any means. Again it changed as it warmed up, with some toffee and not-so-ripe mandarins coming through. This too is a pleasant drink and another that I would recommended to those starting on to the craft beer route, and even some who are already down the road a little, or even a lot!

Perhaps I will try that assorted 4 pack after all. I hope the rest of the family are as pleasant!

Anyhow, I'll certainly keep an eye out for more of the clan.


There's a perception by those in the press, and perpetuated by many on social media streams, that so-called craft beer is all about strong flavours and high alcohol. And that it's just drank by those who want to be seen drinking it or who want to look or act differently to everyone else.

This is (mostly) not the case.

It's drank by those who like its taste or simply want something local or traceable. Whether it's straightforward, no-nonsense(!) simple beers like the two mentioned above or more complex imperial stouts, trippels or sour-whatevers isn't important.

Taste, needs and choice are important ... not begrudgery, hearsay and rhetoric.

(OK. Rant over, normal service will resume shortly.)


Unknown said...

Are there other pale ales that resemble the taste of cousin Rosie's? I was recently in Ireland and had one that I thought was good. I'm back in the states now and cannot find it here. Any similar beers?

Liam K. said...

Hi Chris,
Sorry but I'm not sure what other beers over there taste like Cousin Rosie... I'd imagine they are exported to the US so if you contact Rye River Brewing they might have a list of stockists.

If not, just keeping trying new beers!