Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Irish Amber

Finnegans, Inc.
Minneapolis, MN

Style: Amber Ale

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Drinkable, but flawed)

Tonight’s brew to-do is Finnegans Irish Amber, which is actually more of a noble idea than a beer. There is no Finnegans brewery—the beer is contract-brewed at Summit for Finnegans, Inc. Started by Minneapolis entrepreneur Jacquie Berglund as a fun and creative way to give back to the community, Finnegans Inc. gives all profits it derives from the sale of its Irish Amber to local charities. Beer and giving. Sounds like a good idea to me.

But some of you might wonder why I, Eddie Glick, anti-social paranoid asshole, would do something as selfless as helping out a charity. Well, I’ve got to admit it wasn’t the charity angle that made me try this beer. It was the fact that it was brewed with potatoes.

As you probably know, potatoes and the Irish go hand-in-hand, historically. Taters are a hardy, calorie-laden crop that sustained the Irish for centuries, and the infamous Irish Potato Famine sparked a wave of immigration into the United States during the mid-1800s. Having Irish in the blood, I can attest to eating plenty of spuds that Ma Glick cooked up in a variety of ways—as long as all those ways were boiled. But potatoes in beer? Sounds pretty awful.

But in actuality it’s not that odd. Potatoes are basically just starch. And when added to the mash, this starch converts directly into sugars that the yeast can eat during fermentation. In fact, the conversion is so efficient that potatoes contribute nothing, nada, zilch to the flavor of the finished beer, just alcohol. They’re a cheap, flavorless adjunct along the lines of corn or rice.

Which brings us to this review’s beer in question, Finnegans Irish Amber. The pour is more a pale gold than an amber, but sports a decent-sized, pillowy head. The aroma is light, dry malt with some DMS floating around the edges of the sniff. A soft, light body introduces semi-sweet, light malt at the front of the sip. This fades to a vague hop and malt mix at the end for a short, basically non-existent finish.

Although the idea behind Finnegans Irish Amber is great, the beer itself is not. It’s a semi-tasteless brew that’s a notch up from cheap light lagers, which isn’t saying much. If your next-best choice is something along the lines of a Coors Light—or if you’re feeling charitable—order one up. Otherwise there’s really no reason to seek this one out.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on March 17, 2009.
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