Strangford Lough St. Patrick’s Best Ale & Legbiter Ale

Last week I got one of the coolest emails I’ve received since starting LIBA. The nice folks at Strangford Lough Brewery contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing some of their beer. HECK YES! Two six-packs (St. Patrick’s Best Ale and Legbiter Ale) landed in my hands today, and I was so giddy I decided to bump these puppies to the top of the reviewing queue.

Strangford Lough, based in Ireland, is in the process of expanding their distribution in the states and their beer is now available in 20 states. Prior to being contacted, I knew nothing of the brewery. I’m a huge fan of Ireland though! Spent a 2 week honeymoon there and would love to get rich and buy a home there. :)

So not knowing anything about the brewery or about the beers, I have to take them at face value. As you know, I’m all about evaluating a beer for what it’s intended to be. Here’s my take on what I’m working with. Both beers have a very low ABV – Legbiter is 4.8 and St. Patrick’s Best is 4.2. These are clearly “let’s have more than one in a sitting” type beers. The label states that the beers are “full flavored”. It feels like Strangford is trying to position theses brews toward the macro drinker who is thinking of straying into the craft beer world.

I started with the Legbiter. It poured with awesome head. I tried and tried (and tried, and tried, and tried, etc) to get a quality picture, but lighting is my enemy tonight. The head stuck around, and left a nice lacing on my glass. The beer is a dark amber color.

Upon pouring, super-malty aroma came blasting out of the glass. The taste is mostly malty as well with the main flavor being caramel. Funny thing was that although it was mostly malty, it wasn’t sweet per-se. Definitely not hoppy what-so-ever, so I guess we’ll call it well balanced. The mouthfeel was very, very smooth.

The St. Patrick’s Best Ale has an almost identical color as the Legbiter. The head is completely and utterly different in that there was very little. Fairly limited aroma here.

This beer is the lower in ABV out of the two, clocking in at 4.2% as I mentioned before. The taste difference between the Legbiter and this St. Patrick’s Best is vast. While I would have definitely classified the Legbiter as “full flavored” as advertised, the St. Patrick’s Best falls short. Just really not much going on here. Malty, but no major discernible flavors. A perfectly good chugging beer though.

I have to admit that I was terribly nervous to review beer that a brewery hooked me up with. What if I hated the stuff? What would I do? Well, definitely I didn’t hate either of these two offerings from Strangford Lough. In fact I’d give the Legbiter good marks. The St. Patrick’s best was definitely a bit of a letdown. Either one would be a great choice for someone just starting to venture into craft beer. For those of you already acclimated to the “scene” I’d recommend trying the Legbiter.

Many thanks to Strangford Lough for the hook-up. I’ll definitely be enjoying the rest of these six packs over the next week or two!

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Author: Joshua Dion

I write about beer in an un-intimidating way, welcoming beer lovers of all experience levels.

7 thoughts on “Strangford Lough St. Patrick’s Best Ale & Legbiter Ale”

  1. Great review Josh. When I first started reading I was concerned that free beer might cloud the review, but that doesn't appear to have happened at all here. Just a good, honest assessment.

    Makes you wonder though, when one pays more for a certain beer (like, let's say $19 for a 750ml), how much of the opinion of the beer is clouded by wanting to justify the expense of what could be an average or sub-par beer, or in looking too hard for mind-blowing flavors in a merely "very good" beer.

    A similar situation applies to inexpensive beers (lowered expectations, assuming that it isn't as good as the overpriced $19 bomber, etc.).

  2. Mark:

    How much you pay for a beer (or anything else for that matter) definitely skews your opinion of it.

    Certainly if I buy something expense I want it to be awesome, whereas if I pay less I'm OK with it slightly sucking.

    I once read that a taste test of a $500 bottle of wine beside a $15 bottle of wine often fools even the experts and they can't tell which is which. I would love to see a similar experiment with various beers.

    -Lost

  3. Just FYI, these beers aren't actually from Ireland. As yet there is no "Strangford Lough Brewery" and the brand owners get these contract brewed in the US. There are more details about the franchise arrangements on their site here.

    I've never actually tasted these as they're not available in most of Ireland, only in the North for which I believe they're contract brewed in England.

  4. Have to say, my eyebrows went up when I read the following on that link: "…based on *traditional* [my emphasis] local recipes. The contents are typical for this part of the world, though we have added a very special local ingredient – Shamrock."

    Huh? Do they ship shamrocks out to the US and UK for the contract brewers to use? 😀

  5. As a beer blogger who has thought one too many times about free beer or sponsorship of my blog site, it was great to see a solid example of how to handle a review honestly and with class.

  6. Sean:

    Thanks man! I really appreciate that. What made it easy was the fact that I didn't hate the beer. If the brew was gross (and it would really have to be gross for me to hate it), it would have been an interesting moral dilemma. :) I have confidence that I would have reviewed it honestly one way or another.

    -Lost

  7. Great job! I think its best to treat the beer like any other and be honest as you were. The brewers are essentially getting free marketing so no matter what you say its helping get the name out there!

    That said, I got hooked up too and will be reviewing shortly.

    I think their process is interesting, but I think The Beer Nut is right that its not really an Irish brew. It has an Irish look (and shamrocks) – overall, not a bad beer though.

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