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It's pale ale round-up time again. Let's see what the nation's hop slingers and haze merchants had for us in the first half of Summer '22.

We'll begin at Third Barrel and an ickle 4%-er called, in responsible fashion, Day Drinkin. Simcoe is the hop and it's very much in tropical mode, starting with mango and pineapple in the aroma, turning a little bitterer and more resinous on tasting, but not by much. Although the texture is as light as one might expect, it's not watery, showing a soft fluffiness commensurate with its haze, and a pleasingly long pithy finish. As such, this is a real best-of-both-worlds job, bringing the full flavour you get from decent New England IPA while still being genuinely sessionable. I've no idea if they intend to keep this in the range but I think it could have a place there.

Kinnegar keeps the session going with another one at that strength: Brewers At Play 24: Summer Ale. There's a lighter touch on the murk here, though it's not completely clear. The aroma doesn't have much to say; a slightly savoury crispness, like bread crusts. The flavour is more interesting. Instead of piling in the hops like Third Barrel they've added citrus peel which gives it a real-tasting orangey zestiness. That's pretty much all it does, however. I reckon they're using its easy-going summer drinkability as a rationale for not making it very complex, however I think there's still room to pull interesting moves at this strength. Regardless, if simple unfussy refreshment is the goal, they have achieved it. Drink it cold, however: that underlying breadiness does the fruit no favours as it warms.

Meanwhile, Ireland's sunniest pale ale is back for another summer. Two Yards, collaboratively brewed at Third Barrel for 57 the Headline and Brickyard, looks like it's been given a recipe tweak, with Citra and Simcoe proclaimed on the can, though the hotside hopping is Strata and Centennial. Despite those dank and bitter aroma hops it still smells fabulously tropical. You get a little pinch of limey citrus on tasting but lots of juice too. The only spoiler is the dry and chalky murk grit which seems to be an unfortunate consequence of the soft New England texture. It's still pretty good though, and fully meets the remit of being an easy-drinking 4.3% ABV pale ale with bags of flavour.

The "session IPA" category gets stretched to its alcohol limit with the new one from Lough Gill. Hazy Seisiún is a sizeable 4.8% ABV, which might make for some very hazy sessions indeed. In the glass it's the pale yellow of lemon squash with a head that crackles away to nothing in seconds. Not great on the visuals, then. The aroma is brightly tropical, suggesting that Mosaic is the hop in charge, over also-ran Citra. The texture is sessionably light without seeming thin, with a cleansing fizz helping boost its thirst-quenching abilities. The flavour stays quite tropical, though with an extra lemon edge from the Citra, finishing with a slight pinch of resinous acidity. Despite the appearance it's very clean and shows off the hops well. It's uncomplicated, unfussy and extremely drinkable: the very picture of proper session IPA, excepting that ABV.

The milkshake IPA trend, in danger of seeming retro these days, is still in full swing at Rascals. Their latest is called Havana Ball, a collaboration with Nottingham's Neon Raptor and designed to resemble a piña colada. It certainly does in appearance: that somewhat bilious yellowy orange, with a faint combover of white bubbles. Coconut, pineapple, mango and vanilla feature in the ingredients and that's exactly what you get in the aroma, every bit as Hawaiian-shirted as the can design implies. A more serious bitterness opens the flavour but is quickly silenced by the cocktail side. It's sweet and creamy, the latter feature impressively created without the addition of lactose (me hole). The coconut is most prominent, making it taste a little like suncream, while the tropical fruit is present but doesn't overcome the bitterness, meaning it's not as sunny-tasting as I'd like. I think this one is for fans of milkshake IPA only. It's perfectly stylistically accurate -- you get what's promised -- but it won't convince anyone of the milkshake IPA's merits all by itself.

We have a new beer brand in Outer Place, based in Kildare but launching with an IPA brewed just across the Dublin border at Lineman: Intergalactic. Oddly, for a beer of this name, it doesn't use Galaxy hops, but Citra and Ekuanot instead. It looks quite like orange juice in the glass, and smells like it too: an enticing sweetness, promising refreshment despite the blousey 6.2% ABV. That strength is well demonstrated in the texture: there's a properly satisfying heft to it. The flavour is much less juicy, mixing tangy citrus, a harder wax bitterness and a savoury fried-onion note. While perfectly pleasant, it's rather more serious than the colourful can and colourful aroma led me to expect. Still, this is a rock-solid IPA; well designed and executed; hazy yet clean-tasting. A good start for any new brand.

Wicklow Wolf has always been good for classically American takes on IPA, and I expected something along those lines from their latest west coast IPA, West Side Story. In the almost inescapable modern fashion it's quite hazy, a barely-translucent sunset yellow. The ABV is up at 6.6% which suits, as does the aroma, laden with lemon spritz and pine sap: no juice here. The centre of the flavour is citrus, and bergmot in particular, plus lime rind and more lemon zest. It's a sharp one, though softened a little by the fuzz, as well as some chewier dank resin. I was sceptical at first, but this is a proper west-coast-style IPA, despite appearances. The handful of drinkers who still think IPA should be bitter, step this way.

What Comes Next? asks Lough Gill and Bullhouse in chorus. They do so via the medium of a New England IPA hopped with Amarillo, Strata and Comet. Like their session IPA above, it's quite a sickly-looking number, with a greenish tint to the yellow, and appearing a bit watery, despite its 6.8% ABV. And while it's not, it's nowhere near as full bodied as one might expect for this sort of thing. The aroma is flamboyantly tropical, with a spritz of citrus too. It's odd, then, that that the flavour is quite savoury. I get green onion and caraway first, then a little lemon before it finishes on dry grit. I feel cheated out of the mango and pineapple I could smell. From a promising start, this becomes just another of those wonky hazy jobs. Oh well. What comes next?

Here's a surprise: Whiplash's new double IPA is clear! Then again, The First Rebirth is badged as "west coast" so I would be complaining again were it not. It's 8% and brewed with an old-school combination of Cascade, Chinook and Columbus. From that I expected a big whack of bitterness and a sizeable heat, but it's altogether softer. Yes, the big malt is there; no crystal but enough Golden Promise for it to be slightly unctuous. The foretaste is a kind of grapefruit and lemon candy: sweet on the outside, bitter in the middle. Unsubtle, but so was every American double IPA during the IBU wars. Complexity is hard come by here, but there's a little weedy dank, and a little pine. We're back on the lemon oils for the finish, however. This is a pretty good impression of the first wave of double IPAs. Irish drinkers who remember the arrival of Of Foam and Fury and Beoir#1 may get a bit of a Proustian rush.

Staying at 8% ABV, Post Card has its first double IPA out now: Pigeon House. They say it's New England style, but in the fashion of Irish breweries doing this five or six years ago, it's amber coloured and only barely hazed. Citra features on the hop bill and that gives it a lime bitterness in the foretaste. It's only when that settles to sweeter vanilla on a smooth body that we come within shouting distance of Vermont. The bitterness won't quit, however, and with each sip there's a new punch, getting harsher and more annoying as it goes. Then the alcohol burn kicks in and doesn't improve things any either. I tried hard to find an angle from which this works, but it's too sharp, too hot, cloyingly gummy and, oh, savoury as well. It's like they threw everything at double IPA and all of it stuck. I hope it finds an audience but it's not me.

Sticking an extra .1% on that, we have Many Coloured Days from O Brother. It's an opaque orange colour with an impressively long-lasting head for something of this nature. The alcohol gets busy right from the aroma, expressing as a heavy, funky, grassy silage effect. A thick and greasy texture goes along with that: this is a sipper, no alternative is on offer. Strata and Idaho 7 are the hops and they bring a flavour that's every bit as serious as the rest of this. Savoury resin with a brush of garlic is the first impression, with poppyseed and rye bread deeper in. A spark of pith is as fruity as it gets. This isn't how I like this sort of beer. It lacks fun, sunshine and accessibility. It seems rather grey and joyless, and is certainly quite hard work to drink. Not what I thought I would get, given the name.

It seems to me me that the best hopwork being done in these parts is at the low-strength level. Maybe that's a seasonal thing: when the temperature goes up, the session-strength beers press my refreshment buttons just right.