Wednesday 13 May 2009

I got a gusher

Rummaging round my beer cupboard I spotted an Irish beer I'd got from Booths. It was St Patrick's Best from the Strangford Lough Brewing Co. You don't often see Irish craft beers so I was very interested in seeing how this one tasted. Sadly I didn't even get as far as tasting it. When I opened the bottle it gushed out of the top in a fountain, spilling about half the bottle over my kitchen counter and floor. 

There are a few possibilities for why beer can gush: over carbonation, wild yeast or bacteria infection, the use of isomerised hop extracts. But in cases like this one where it really goes mental Fusarium is the likely suspect.

This is a fungus that can infect barley and cause considerable problems for brewers (and drinkers!). I don't think the mechanism for how it causes gushing is known but it certainly does a good job of it. 

I also have vague memories from when I was studying microbiology that some species of Fusarium produce a oestrogenic mycotoxin that does nasty things to the bits of boy pigs fed on infected barley. So I tipped the rest of it down the sink. I'm not taking any chances.  

A Fusarium sp. is also the fungus they make Quorn from. Though obviously not a species that makes your goolies shrink when you eat it.

On looking at the label more closely it turned out that the beer was contract brewed somewhere in the EU, so might not even be an Irish craft beer anyway. I'll be giving it a miss in future. 


  1. Apparently they are contract-brewed all over the place. I get the feeling it's a brand created for... let's say a certain market. There's another "Irish" craft beer like that called Arainn Mhor, which despite all the magical, mystical Ireland stuff on the label is actually made in Belgium, and was essentially created by a marketing man.

    Of course, Ireland is in the EU, but you can be sure that if it was brewed in Ireland it would say so. I'd still like to taste it anyway, just to see :)

  2. I think it said it contained clover, presumably to bump up the 'Oirish-ness' 'cos I don't think it would add much to the taste. Let me know if you find it (and like it). I won't be buying it again unless I hear a good report on it.

  3. 'tis a strange bit of mystical Oirish Blarney marketing this one, to be sure . . .

    Like a N.I. brewery having a ".ie" (Irish Republic) website.

    Last I heard the bottle-conditioned beers were brewed & bottled by Hampshire Brewery.

    But since they, I think, have gone under, I don't know where.

    As to the gusher theory - my money's on slight infection or over-carbonation (seems to happen to the best of them - e.g. the early brews of the Coop Freeminer Goldminer, bottled at Marston's)

  4. Ed, Sorry to hear about your bad experience with our beer. I don't expect you to buy more beer. Rather than wait for good reports, I'm happy to send you some free replacements. Contact me through our website and I'll happily arrange this.

    Please let me know when you got the beer and from where. As MicMac says "seems to happen to the best of them". Problems like the one you describe don't happen often, but when they do we like to try and determine why and learn from our mistakes. Any information you have would be useful.

    MicMac - a dot ie web address is for companies from the WHOLE of Ireland. It is more stircly controled than and .com addresses, you have to prove you have the right to own it. When we registered both and .com had previously been taken. We do not seek to hide the fact we are in Northern Ireland, we are proud of County Down, part of Saint Patrick's country. In fact our name and marketing seek to tell you exactly where we are from!

    All - our beer isn't brewed all over the place, Hampshire Brewery have closed down and we have our own facilities for brewing our beer.

    Tony Davies