Friday, April 1, 2016

Actor/singer/songwriter Richard Harris gets a pale ale


Harris Pale Ale

I spent a couple of weeks in Ireland recently and made a point to sample some of the island's craft beers. The craft beer scene in the United States has been exploding for years now, to the extent that my hometown—Bloomington, Indiana—has five breweries, and practically every Indiana town of any size has at least one brewery of its own. Ireland hasn't reached that level of craft beer intensity yet, but Cork, Dublin, Kildare, Limerick, and some other Irish localities have joined in the fun.

Richard Harris, 1985
I spent most of my time in Limerick, which recently gained its first brewery in a long time, Treaty City Brewing Co. Only one Treaty City beer is available as of this writing: Harris Pale Ale, which is named after Limerick hell-raiser Richard Harris, the actor, singer, and songwriter. The beer's label is cool, and the brewery's mission ("Laying siege to bland tasteless beer since 2014!") is admirable.

This is a music blog, so I'll mention that Harris has a fairly extensive discography that includes the Camelot soundtrack, a rendition of "MacArthur Park," and an album—The Yard Went On Forever—that was written, arranged, and produced by Jimmy Webb. He won a Grammy for his 1973 spoken-word album Jonathan Livingston Seagull and a Golden Globe for Best Actor for his role in Camelot. In 2008, Raven Records in Australia released an excellent Richard Harris anthology, Man of Words Man of Music: The Anthology 1968–1974.

Treaty City's Harris Pale Ale is an IPA with cascade hops and caramel malts that claims to put the hops out front but is only moderately hoppy in comparison to American IPAs. Nevertheless, it’s a good beer and a great start for a new brewery, so I’ll be interested to see what they come up with next. Many Irish pubs offer only the standards—Guinness, Smithwick’s, Carlsberg, Tiger, Budweiser, Heineken, etc.—but if you ask and they have Treaty City in bottles, it's a welcome alternative to all those watery beers. Although Treaty City markets itself as Limerick's first brewery, Limerick actually had a number of breweries in the 1700s and 1800s, as described in this article in The Old Limerick Journal.

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