Top Shelf Irish Ale

Top Shelf Irish Ale
22 oz bottle, $5, 5% ABV

Purchased at the brewery, Manchester

irishI was going to effusively start this page off with a proclamation that the Irish Ale was Top Shelf’s best beer of their first few months. It was going to make up for some of the difficult Top Shelf reviews I’ve had to write.

And while the Irish Ale was, without question, the best Top Shelf beer of I’ve ever had in my life up to this point, I hesitate to call it the best Top Shelf beer.

Why? Because I think I had a little bit o’ that luck o’ the Irish with me when I bought my bottle. What I mean is that I did not taste any of the phenolic yeast infection that was present in so many of their beers. There was no butyric vomit smell. This ale tasted like an ale. It was a revelation.

But if I can digress for a minute… I am sitting here looking at the picture her of the Irish Ale’s label. Do I like it? I mean, I like simple and clean usually, but there is just something so… in-your-face simple about a big green clover that makes me just shake my head.

Ok, now I feel like I’m picking on these guys…. and I don’t want to do that.

Top Shelf says:

Traditional Irish style ale rich in flavor with hints of chocolate, berries and dried fruit.

Ok, fine. Sounds good. Let’s have a drink, and – what? They have more to say on the label? Um, okay…

Passion, adversity, and success; it’s what dreams are made of. For decades, Irish style ale was overshadowed by the popular stouts and porters within its native land. Yet a few brewers embraced adversity and soldiered on with their IriShalelove of fresh ale. Thanks to their passion, the Irish micro brewing revolution is growing strong. Our traditional Irish style ale does not follow trends, instead it pays homage to the craft pioneers before us. Here’s to their success. Cheers!

Wow. That is an important beer bottle label. This is an important beer.

As for my experiences with it, like I said, I liked it. Definite raisin notes for me, just above a decent, clean malty ale. There was nothing wacky here, nothing off-putting – and most importantly, nothing infected.

Sure, it was a little sweet and a little unfinished, but I drank the whole bottle. For a 2013 Top Shelf effort, that was a rare experience indeed.

And so, when I revisit the boys at Top Shelf and see how far they’ve come after a year, I will have memories of their Irish Ale in my head, hoping to sample more beers of this quality: Simple, true-to-style beers with no problems.

We’re start talking about excelling beyond that in year two maybe.

Overall Rating: B
Rating vs. Similar style: B-

At the same time, focusing on only 1 or 2 simple things also goes a long way showing the failings of mythology.

Top Shelf Brewing Company
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