Black Donkey Brewing – Sheep Stealer – Irish Farmhouse Ale – 5.6% ABV


Sheep Stealer sells itself as an Irish Farmhouse Ale. I find the classification interesting – instead of calling itself an Irish Saison, it anglicised the term. I imagine that a lot of consideration went into this choice. In spite of being one of the easiest beers to use as a springboard into non-macro beers, Saison sounds much more elitist than Ale.

First Impressions:

The carbonation is almost uncontrollable on this beer, which is perfect for the style. It is bottle conditioned, and the yeast has worked hard. Even gentle poring brings the foam to the lip of the glass. The yeast sediment is easily agitated, and mixes with the beer to produce a cloudy pale orange colour. The high levels of carbonation also bring the aroma straight to your nose. It is dominated by a sweet yeastiness.

The aromas are floral and summery, and very inviting.

Second Impressions:

Sheep Stealer has a crisp, dryness, in spite of some sweetness from the malts.

The primary flavours are summer fruits, with some mild citrus. These are complimented by the spiciness typical of the yeast used to produce this beer.


The carbonation makes this a lively beer until the very end. The bitterness to this beer is very mild, but certainly present.

The last mouthful is an intense experience, as you can expect a yeasty mouthful!

Final Impressions:

Sheep Stealer is a real feather in the cap of Black Donkey Brewing. Beers like this maintain and grow Ireland’s craft beer industry.

This beer is not an envelope pusher, but rather is a perfect presentation of a style which people may otherwise not try. The artwork is quirky and inviting, but is by no means the selling point. It is easy enough to drink for anyone looking for a beer to go with food or otherwise. The flavours are challenging enough for regular craft beer drinkers while not being over powering for someone who wants to dip their toe into the scene. Far too often breweries use the notion of “entry-level” as an excuse for a beer to be boring.

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