Eastern Washington is known for being the largest source of hops in the area, but today we’re looking at a beer that is less likely to rely on a strong hop presence than something you’d expect from the area – Quilter’s Irish Death, a dark American Strong Ale from Iron Horse Brewing.
I went to school in Ellensburg and have fond memories of Iron Horse; it’s a fun local brewery, and has some great offerings. I’m looking forward to getting this borderline-stout into a glass and trying it out, so let’s get to it!
Irish Death pours a deep brown / almost black color initially, but when held up to a light source, is surprisingly copper-colored, especially around the edges of the glass. The color overall is very reminiscent of tobacco.
When held up to the light, it’s easy to see a large amount of floating particles. This is surprising being that it’s sat chilling in my fridge for a while now; it’s definitely not cloudy, but there are very noticeable particles floating around inside.
The head is a full two fingers with a nice off-white color, which stayed for a good couple of minutes before beginning to dissipate.
Appearance Rating: 2 / 3
Whiskey is definitely the dominating note on the nose for me. Unfortunately, it’s not the best whiskey. I’m getting sort of a metallic bourbon flavor that’s not very smooth or pleasant, but it is balanced by a nice maple flavor shortly after.
I’m getting a lot of baker’s chocolate / unsweetened cocoa, especially when swirling the glass to re-invigorate the head a bit. There’s a bit of graham cracker, and overall a strong aroma that’s more on the sharp side. It’s not unpleasant, but I definitely expected some sweeter notes from a strong ale.
Aroma Rating: 8 / 12
Taking into account the overpowering whiskey on the aroma, I’m surprised to not be getting as much of it in the flavor. I’m getting more of the unsweetened cocoa, along the lines of Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout with the slight artificial aspect, but much less intense.
Toasty, nutty, and chocolate malts are very apparent for me. Along with the slight artificial aspect of the chocolate, I feel like I’m taking a bite of a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles.
The finish is very dry, and overall thinner than I’d expect. I’m enjoying it more as I drink it, but it doesn’t really exemplify the style and seems to be missing that craftsmanship element; if I didn’t know better, I’d guess this beer to be a homebrew.
Flavor Rating: 15 / 20
Irish Death is definitely more on the light side than I would have expected. The mouthfeel is drying, with not much creaminess, with a slight chalkiness in the aftertaste.
While not unpleasant, it certainly feels more like a standard red ale than a stout or dark / strong ale. If it weren’t for the color and name, I’d pin it as an amber.
Mouthfeel Rating: 3 / 5
I’m having a hard time rating this beer, because while I enjoy it, I’m thrown off. For a beer called Irish Death, it’s incredibly light and lacking in the whole punch-in-the-face flavor I expected.
It’s a nice drinking beer; nothing about it is unpleasant, and I could drink more than a glass, it just doesn’t exemplify the style. To me, it tastes more like a malty porter than a strong ale, and I definitely think it could use a more accurate name than Irish Death.
Overall Rating: 7 / 10