Thursday, January 5, 2012



Craft Brewing has taken off in a big way this last 12 months but the pioneering Franciscan Well  on Cork’s North Mall still has a trick or two up its sleeve.

And indeed, the brewers there have produced two of the best beers of the year in my opinion: The Shandon Century Extra Stout and the formidable Bellringer, both limited editions.

The Shandon made its debut at the end of October. This was a fabulous stout and I was lucky enough to get a bottle or two from the 1,000 made, also enjoyed a couple of tastings, each with cheese.

And perhaps the best match-up came during the Jazz Weekend when Willie Healy of URRU matched it with a mature Hegarty’s Cheddar at the pub itself. Memorable stout – like to see it back again sometime soon!

The Bellringer, also a 1000 bottle run, came about a month later and only last Monday came the news from the brewery: “Bellringer is sold out. Next batch will be a bottle conditioned I.P.A. “ You might be lucky as, of yesterday, Bradley’s in North Main Street still had a few bottles left. I finished mine off last night and was delighted with it, perhaps the best Irish ale I’ve tasted. Like to see that come back as well but in the meantime I’m looking forward to the IPA.

And another Franciscan event to look forward to has just been announced: “Our annual Cask Ale Festival will take place on the 10th, 11th and 12th Feb. It’s going to be one of the best ones yet!” They usually keep to their word so mark this in your diary.

All goes to show there is life in the Old North Mall dog yet and those newbies, promising and all as they are, will have their work cut out to top the Cork star. We can only benefit from the brewing battles ahead!

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