Showing posts with label Bradley's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bradley's. Show all posts

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Larkin's Brewery of Wicklow. A Family That Brews Together.


Larkin's Brewery of Wicklow.
A Family That Brews Together.
Unusually, for a craft brewery, the main focus in Larkin’s County Wicklow Brewery is on lager. Maybe it is a Wicklow thing as Mont, known for their lager, are also based here.

Just a few years ago, the Larkin family beer enterprise was confined to the domestic kitchen. Decision to “go” in 2015 was backed by the whole family and a year later equipment was ordered. Great feedback at the 2017 Irish Craft Beer Festival saw the Larkins schedule a full launch early this year and now, with a trio of lagers front and centre, they have arrived.


Larkin’s Pale Ale 4.5%, 440ml can €3.75 Bradley’s Cork

Essentially this is a pretty serious Pale Ale, refreshing, with low to moderate bitterness. Colour is a mid-gold (hazy), white head is long-lasting. Might be of moderate bitterness but the twice used Lemondrop and Cascade hops make their presence felt as this well-made beer heads to a dry finish.

Larkin’s Märzen Lager 5.7%, 500ml bottle €3.50 Bradley’s

The Märzen style originated in Bavaria. It was brewed in March (hence the name) and served during the Octoberfest. “Dark brown, full bodied and bitter” is the description of the original.

Larkin’s is pretty close to that: malty, good flavour and a clean finish. Colour may not be quite a dark brown, closer to amber. The off-white head, thin to begin with, lasts longer than expected but that’s a minor detail. This is a highly enjoyable lager and well worth a try.

Larkin’s Doppelbock Lager 7.6%, 500ml bottle €3.95 Bradley’s

“There’s eating and drinking it” is a Cork saying and it could well be applied to this strong lager. Traditional bock is a sweet, relatively strong beer and the name doppelbock indicates even more strength. It was originally brewed by monks for nourishment during Lenten fasting. Cute boys, those German monks.

The Larkin’s Doppelbock has a dark brown colour with a coffee-cream head that vanishes fairly quickly. It is aromatic, with concentrated sweetish flavours including caramel that disguise the high alcohol. Strong yes but fairly well balanced and with a satisfactory finalé. The Märzen is the easier drink though but if you are fasting, then that Doppelbock’s your only man.

Larkin’s Baltic Porter 7.0%, 500ml bottle €3.95 Bradley’s


Baltic Porter comes originally from the Baltic states, usually stronger and sweeter. By the way, a lager yeast is normally used and indeed, you read “lager” on the Larkin’s label.

It has, as you'd expect, a black body; also a coffee coloured head that doesn't last long. Toasted coffee and caramel type flavours, a touch of that sweetness too; flavours are concentrated and the finish is soft and pleasant. A rather nice porter but not that easy drinking. Might use it as a warm-up for a stout session!

* They also produce a Helles lager but I didn't get my hands on one - yet!

Larkin's Brewing Company
Unit 2, Renmore Business Park, Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow.
info@larkinsbrewing.com
+353 (1) 281 1640


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Two Superb Reds. A Morgon by a Maestro. A Malbec from the High Desert.


Two Superb Reds. 
A Morgon by a Maestro. A Malbec from the High Desert.

Jean Foillard Côte du Py Morgon (AOC) 2016, 13%, €35.60 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny


Every month in the vineyard, there are decisions to be made, practical crossroads to be negotiated. They concern, for instance, cultivating and fertilising soil, planting, training and pruning vines, and when to begin picking the grapes. But before all that, the vineyard is shaped at a philosophy crossroads. Quantity before quality. Chemical or organic. Fortunately for us, Jean and Agnes Foillard gave the thumbs down to the industrial and choose the natural organic route. Their healthy and beautiful wines are their reward and our pleasure.

In Morgon, Foillard wines express the terroir like a maestro musician. “The aromatics soar and the texture is silky and fine”. Try it in three movements: Le Classique, Cotes de Py, and Corcelette. Long may the maestro of Morgon play on.

The fruit for our Côte du Py, also known as Le Classique, is grown on a hill that is actually an extinct volcano and is masterfully transformed into a soft delicious vibrant-red wine with superb depth of vivacious flavours and a refreshing acidity. There are cherry and raspberry notes, floral too, in the aromas. On the palate, it is elegant with no shortage of minerality, tannins are a very fine influence here and the finish just goes on and on.

Foillard, a leading natural winemaker, has been described as the master of this hill (Côte de Py) and this stunning 2016 will serve to reinforce that claim. Very Highly Recommended. Give this a few more years and it will be even more rewarding.

There are ten crus in the Beaujolais region and Morgon, as you probably know, is one of them. With the typical acidity, these wines can match a range of foods. One suggestion that I fancy is Moroccan Lamb Tagine with apricot.


Amalaya Gran Corte Barrel Selection, Valle Calchaqui (Argentina) 2015, 14.5%, €24.99 JJ O’Driscoll, Wine Online

In Salta’s high desert, for centuries farmers made offerings in hope of a miracle for a bountiful harvest. Esperanza por un milagro is on the front label and the miracle has come to pass inside.

This Gran Corte is an amalgam of Malbec (85%), Tannat and Cabernet Franc. Twelve months in oak has added complexity and roundness.

Amalaya is acknowledged as a leading producer in this region. Owned by the Hess family, they are best known for their Malbec and Torrontés and this Gran Corte is their signature wine.

Colour is purple and there are aromas of red and black fruit. A superbly concentrated wine with a wash of spice, complex of flavour with rounded tannins and a long spice-driven finish. The winery, by the way, makes only blends and this man-made Malbec miracle is Very Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Two to try from St Chinian and the lesser known Madiran


Two to try. St Chinian and the lesser known Madiran

Brumont Torus Madiran (AC) 2011, 14%, €18.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny


Madiran is a lesser known wine region in Gascony in the South West of France and Tannat is the big red grape here. In this Torus, Tannat accounts for 50% while the two Cabernets, Sauvignon and Franc, account for the rest.

With freshness and depth from its terroir, it is a “perfect match for the local gastronomy” which features specialities such as Magret de Canard and Cassoulet, “foods that demand a wine of serious character and structure”. The Tannat provides all that plus tannins (of course!). When I first came across this grape I was told it was a man’s grape! Things have changed since then if this very approachable Torus is anything to go by.

It is dark ruby, lighter at the rim, legs slow to clear. Blackcurrant to the fore in the rather intense aromas. Rich and powerful is the first impression, great depth and concentration, fresh and full of flavour, good acidity too, and tannins as you'd expect from the name of the grape. Fruit and acidity well balanced all the way through to the soft finish. Highly Recommended.

The man’s grape tag may well be passé at this stage. Even six years ago I found a delicious rosé, with a strawberry nose, fruity and dry, entirely loveable and gluggable. Ten per cent Cab Sauv and 10% Cab Franc had been added to the Tannat and the winemakers of Irouleguy ended up with an award winning gem.

Research has shown too that the grape “has record levels of procyanidins, the heart-friendly chemical in red wine”. Grapes and Wines also says that Tannat reds have been and are being improved by modern wine-making methods (which include a tannin-softening technique). So not as tough as they were in the old days!



Tabatau Camprigou Saint-Chinian (AC) 2014, 13%, €15.20 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny


St Chinian, just 20 miles from the Med, is in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region, close to the other AOCs of Minervois and Faugeres. Tabatau, in Occitan, means child of the tobacconist. Winemaker Bruno Gracia’s grandfather was the village tobacconist, hence the unusual name for the winery. The blend for the 2014 is Syrah (50%), Grenache (40) and Carignan (10).

It is a ruby colour. There are red fruit aromas, moderate intensity. All that lovely red fruit, some spice too and silky smooth tannins (with just a little bite) combine on the palate. Medium bodied, with a nice balance between fruit and acidity, and Highly Recommended.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

A Few Beer Classics. Four of the Best


A Few Beer Classics

Four of the Best

St Bernardus Abt 12, 10% abv, 33 cl bottle €4.50 Bradley’s of Cork

This extra strong Belgian barley wine style beer has a large creamy head; colour is golden brown and there are fruity and hoppy elements in the aromas. It is complex and full-bodied, packed with flavour and then a long finish with a hoppy bite. Well balanced overall and no wonder they call it “the pride of our stable”.

Indeed, this quadrupel is regarded as one of the best beers in the world. In the Belgian scheme of beer, quadrupel indicates it is stronger than a tripel, which is stronger than a dubbel. One for sipping then, but each sip packs a beautiful punch. 

St Bernardus, by the way, run a B&B in the brewery. Now that, combined with a tour and tasting, would be some visit. In addition, “B&B Het Brouwershuis is a place to enjoy a gastronomic breakfast buffet, to take the time for a chat and to make use of the unlimited possibilities to explore the region”. Check it out here.  

Thornbridge Jaipur IPA, 5.95%, 33 cl bottle, €3.50, Bradley’s of Cork

The complexity of this multi award winning American style IPA is down to no less than the six hops used: Chinook, Centennial, Ahtanum, Simcoe, Columbus and Cascade. Thornbridge, based in Derby, are regarded by many as Britain’s leading 21st century brewery.

It wears this complexity lightly though and you’ll have no problem sipping your way through this beauty from the UK brewery. It has a fairly cloudy pale yellow colour and hoppy aromas. Smooth on the palate, hoppy, citrus notes too, and a beautiful balance all the way to hoppy finish. Not too much more to say except that this is more or less the perfect IPA. Not surprised that the award tally worldwide has soared to over the one hundred mark.

Saison Dupont (Belgium) 6.5%, €2.95 33cl bottle Bradley’s Cork

Beer has been brewed here for centuries but it is only in the last 20 years or so that the Dupont Brewery has become a global reference for saison. As Michael Creedon of Bradley’s told me “if you don’t like this, you don’t like saison”.

It is a cloudy mid-amber, fountains of micro-bubbles. Aromas of citrus. Light and fruity, zesty and refreshing, yet no shortage of hearty flavour. Reckon any labourer, even a keyboard one, would be happy with this impeccable beer. Superb finish also with the bitterness now to the forefront.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, 5.6abv, 355ml can at Bradley’s of Cork


This 100% whole-cone Cascade hops beer, with its piney and grapefruit aromas, is a classic, all natural, bottle conditioned and refreshingly bold. And still going strong after 35 years.

Bitterness comes in at 38 and suggested food pairings are grilled steak, citrus salad, Thai curry and roasted veg.

So what does this “turning point for American beer” taste like? Well, it looks like hazy amber in the glass and smells like its well hopped, pine notes coming through. By the time I had written that, the frail white head had more or less vanished. Time for the first sip which was superb, hops and fruit, a terrific mouthful. No wonder it has become a classic, setting the standard for start-up breweries across the world. Viva Nevada!

Just noticed that this Pale Ale has been voted No. 1 in Food & Wine's 25 Most Important American Craft Beers Ever. See the full list here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Stonewell Seasonal Ciders. Taste of the Week. Taste of the Summer!


Stonewell Seasonal Ciders
Taste of the Week. 
Taste of the Summer!

Stonewell Apple & Cucumber Limited Edition Craft Cider 2017, 5.5%, 330ml bottle.



In 2016, Stonewell won the Supreme Champion Award at the Blas na hEireann Awards in Dingle with their Rós, an apple and rhubarb cider, and their current seasonal is this medium dry Apple and Cucumber.

First thing you notice is the huge difference in colours, the cucumber one looking more like a white wine (with hints of green), though with lots of bubbles. The cucumber comes through, gently, on the nose and on the palate. 

Flavours are probably lighter than the Rós but, if anything, are even more refreshing. A light and moreish flavour, as they say themselves, from this combination of Royal Gala apples and a subtle twist of cucumber.


Rós Apple and Rhubarb Limited Edition Craft Cider 2017, 5.5%, 330ml bottle

The Supreme Champion is an all local amalgam. The rhubarb juice is extracted from the produce of Robbie Fitzsimmon’s East Ferry Farm in Cork and blended with the “soft caressing” flavours of the apple juice.

This new batch has a gorgeous mid-gold (no pink!), with fountains of bubbles. Rhubarb comes through on the palate but its tartness is more than balanced by those soft caressing flavours of the apples. An engaging mix indeed from the small but highly innovative team at Nohoval and you can taste why it won a surprise overall gold at Blas.

Both ciders are vegan and coeliac friendly and each should go well with food. Thinking of a salad in the garden with a bottle of the Apple and Cucumber while the Rós should be ideal with the strawberries. Must set that one up while the sun is out!

Stockists
Stockists for both ciders: Bradley’s Cork; 1601 Kinsale; Blackrock Cellar, Co. Dublin; Gibney’s of Malahide, Co. Dublin; No 21 Lismore, Co.Waterford; Paddy Blues, Gorey, Co. Wexford; Redmond’s of Ranelagh, Dublin; Lilac Wines, Dublin 3; Supervalu Kinsale and Clonakilty; Riney’s Bar, Sneem, Co.Kerry. Matson’s Wine Store, Grange and Bandon, Cork.

You may get the Apple and Cucumber at the following O’Brien’s Wines locations:
Ardkeen, Co. Waterford; Beacon, Dublin; City West, Dublin; Blanchardstown, Dublin; Douglas Court, Cork; Dun Laoghaire, Dublin; Glasnevin, Dublin; Malahide, Dublin; Naas, Kildare; Rathgar, Dublin; Rathmines, Dublin; Templeogue Village, Dublin.

Nohoval
Belgooly
Kinsale
Co. Cork.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Sherry Babies. Two of the Best.


Two of the loveliest sherries I've come across recently, each available in the convenient half-bottle size (37.5cl). These are for drinking now and not to be left in the opened bottle until next Christmas!

Sanchez Ayala Manzanilla (DO) “Gabriela” NV, 15%, €11.35, 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

The fruit comes exclusively from their Los Cañas vineyard. Miguel Sanchez Ayala has been the source of the exclusive Equipo Navazos’ La Bota series over the years, another strong sign that the pedigree is faultless as Equipo Navazos are known to be fastidious, indeed forensic, in their search for the best.

The wine is raised in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, as all Manzanilla must be. It has spent some six years in solera and minimally filtered before bottling.


Colour is a light gold and the aromas hint of the flor and the sea. These characteristics appear too on the palate, fresh, salty and an absolutely satisfying wine with a persistent finish - you’ll find yourself licking your lips long after the final drop! Very Highly Recommended. Well priced too, by the way. 

If you were growing up in the area in the 1880s, you’d have come across Gabriela, a famous flamenco dancer and singer. She married a bullfighter and her sons became bullfighters too, one the legendary Joselito, fatally gored in the ring at the age of 25.

Lustau Oloroso Don Nuno sec Sherry (DO), 20%, €15.99 Bradley’s Cork

As we move from Manzanilla to Oloroso we jump up in the ABV. Lustau recommend serving this one slightly chilled with game dishes, dried fruits and cured cheeses. Great too as an aperitif. Either way, a little sip goes a long long way.


A few years ago at a sherry dinner in Ballymaloe, Lustau’s Manolo Lozano (RIP) told us the wine here has been selected from the start to be Oloroso so there is no flor at all. “Then we develop what we want. It is a very good wine, a strong wine for red meat, for game. Hard to match!” Ballymaloe chef Scott Walsh came up with a superb pairing: Braised Ox Tail with Romanesco, tomato, lentils.

Colour is a mid to dark bronze (the darker the colour, the longer it has been aged). Predominantly nutty aromas; nutty too on the rich concentrated palate where spice also appears; then a long persistent finish, like the tide, it just keeps coming in. Full bodied and well rounded, this is a superb wine and Very Highly Recommended from another well recommended source.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Two Outstanding White Wines


Carl Ehrhard Rüdesheim Bischofsberg Riesling trocken 2015, Rheingau (Germany), 12.5%, €19.65 Karwig Wines


I’ve long been a Carl Ehrhard fan and that continues after sampling this Riesling trocken from Bischofsberg, one of his vineyards. It has lovely bright gold colour. Apples feature in the aromas. This enticing crisp wine sees apples also in the flavours, a lively acidity too and then that minerally finish. This is a food friendly wine, Asian food and cheese are among the suggestions. Excellent too on its own and Very Highly Recommended.


If you’re new to German wine, you may need help with some of the words on the label:
Rüdesheim is the town.
Bischofsberg is the vineyard, named after a local archbishop.
Riesling is the grape.
Trocken means dry.
Rheingau is the wine district.
Ehrhard - you’re on a winner!



The vineyard has a gentle south-facing slope and the area in general is well known for its dry Rieslings - “full bodied with racy acidity”.


Yves Cuilleron á Chavanay “Les Vignes d’a Coté” Marsanne 2015, 14%, €17.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny



The Marsanne fruit for this Vin de France comes from an uncle’s vineyard revived by the return of Yves Cuilleron to Chavanay at the northern end of Saint-Joseph, one of the eight Northern Rhone crus.

If you like this, you are in good company as Victor Hugo was an admirer of Saint-Joseph wines. The main white grapes here are Clairette, Marsanne, Roussane, Viognier, Bourboulenc and there are two secondary grapes White Picpoul and Ugni Blanc.

Anticipation was high as I settled down with this. Cuilleron comes with high ratings: …superstar…leading light…bright shining star..are adjectives applied to him by leading wine writers and publications.

Colour is bright yellow with tints of green, limpid in the bottle. On the nose there are white fruits, hints of honey and light floral notes. It is round, rich with exotic flavours, a semi-creamy texture, acidity enough and a long dry finish. This fresh and generous wine over-delivers. It is a high quality entry level wine and Very Highly Recommended. Marsanne can age well but this one (all 18,200 bottles) is made to be drunk when it is young and fresh (sur le fruit).

Monday, April 30, 2018

And Union. Solid Colours Stand Out.


And Union. Solid Colours Stand Out.
With the multitude of multi-coloured cans now on the beer shelf, it’s back to basic for German brewers And Union. And their one colour cans really stand out. They certainly caught my eye in Bradley’s the other day and I took advantage of the four for €10.00 offer. 

CL, who had just been to the Franciscan Well Beer Festival, wasn't overly impressed with my quartet, saying there were better beers at the Well. She has a very valid point - I certainly enjoyed a few there: 9 White Deer Brewery Black Lightning IPA and Stag Saor Gluten Free Stout; Kinnegar Brewing Hare & Hag Irish Coffee Stout; and Lough Gill Brewery Mac Nutty Brown Ale.

The four Germans though are all well made and I enjoyed each of them, particularly the black lager. Then again, as you can see from the selection in the Franciscan, I was “researching” the dark-ish side that evening. Next time, I’ll let CL choose!

And Union Unfiltered Lager, 5%, 33cl can
Brewed in Bavaria, from Hallertau Aroma hops, this is “an old school lager, bursting with flavour”. Bitterness units are 25.

It is pale and cloudy with a full head, citrusy aromas and fruit too on the palate, malt and citrus prominent, smooth to a dry finish. This vegan friendly brew is recommended as an appetiser and also “with spicy foods, tacos, oysters, tempura”.

And Union Neu Black Lager, 5%, 33cl can
Again this is brewed from the same Hallertau hops and the bitterness count is lowest of the four at 20. “A rich and toasty and complex yet light bodied and refreshing.”

You’ll see blacker blacks. It has an ample white head. Aromas of hops and fruit. Much more complex on the palate than the previous one, rich and toasty as they say and it is light and refreshing with a fruity and hoppy finish. My favourite of the four.







And Union Sunday Pale Ale, 5.5%, 33cl can
Bitterness units in this Pale Ale are higher, as you’d expect, at 35. It is “balanced and gently spiced, easy-like-Sunday-morning..”

It pours cloudy with a mid-gold colour, an ample if short-lived white head. Aromas are moderately hoppy. Hops used by the way are Hallertau Aroma and Summit. In the mouth, you get a good mix of malt and citrus, dry for sure, all the way to a hoppy finish. Pair with whatever you can handle after the night before, cornflakes maybe but not the Full Irish!

And Union Friday IPA 6.5%, 33 cl can
This “Bavarian take on the American-style IPA is not for woosies”. Not for craft beer newbies either with the bitterness units hitting 55. Hops used are Hallertau Aroma and Chinook.

Again, I liked this one with its hazy gold colour and ample white head, aromas slightly more hops than fruit. On the palate, It is a quite complex amalgam of hops and malt and fruit, well balanced though with a long dry and effervescent hoppy finish. Cheers!




Thursday, April 12, 2018

Nomad Wine at Spit Cork. The Pick of Burgundy.

Nomad Wine at Spit Cork
The Pick of Burgundy
Julian (Bubble Brothers) and, right, Michael (Bradley's of Cork)


Nomad Wine has for the past decade been known as the Burgundy specialists in Ireland. Jérémy Delannoy, who joined founders Thierry Grillet and Charles Derain in 2016, told me that they have expanded into “lesser known regions of France” and that was evident on their stand at Spit Cork. But Burgundy lovers need not fret. They travel there each year to taste the new vintages. With both the founders in the restaurant business, they are strong on food and wine pairings.

Vermentino from the Languedoc is perhaps an unexpected wine on the list but the Domaine Provenquire IGP Pays D’Oc 2016 caught my eye. Very pale yet very enjoyable with the “creaminess” typical of the variety.

Some Beaujolais Chardonnay ends up, quite legitimately, as Burgundy and it is rare enough to find a Beaujolais white in Ireland. Here’s a good one to try: Domaine des Nugues Beaujolais Village 2016, moderate fruity aromas, fresh and pure on the palate, with an impressively long finish.

Jérémy pointed me in the direction of Domaine Goisot, first to their Bourgogne Aligoté 2016. Green highlights in the light gold colour, a melange of floral and fruit in the aromas, also on the palate, a little spice too, well balanced with a long finish. 
Welcome to Nomad

But the big surprise from this producer was the Saint Bris “Exogyra Virgula” 2015, the surprise being that the grape variety was Sauvignon Blanc, a really different and very interesting expression of the grape. Citrus and floral on the nose continue on to the palate where you’ll also note some spice. Drink it young. 

It goes well with seafood, shellfish, fish, calf sweetbreads, cheese soufflés, goat cheese, Comté, Emmental, Munster and Roquefort cheese. By the way, both Goisot wines have a recommended serving temperature of 12 to 13 degrees.

Perhaps my favourite white here was the Jurançon Sec La Part Davant 2015 by Cavin Larredya, a blend of Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, and Petit Courbou. Peach aromas, but also floral, continued on the velvety palate all the way to a long and satisfying finish.

Then I moved from the south west foothills to the Rhone for the first of reds: Domaine des Lises Equinoxe Crozes-Hermitage 2016. a delicious Syrah, ripe black fruit and lingering finish.

From there it was Burgundy and Pinot Noir all the way, starting with Les Tilles 2014 by Domaine Jacques Cacheux, a striking amalgam of red berry fruit and then a long finish. “Drink now or in another year,” advised Jérémy.

Soon he was pouring the Domaine Raquillet Mercurey Vieilles Vignes 2016. Not too much to say here: beautiful fruit, beautiful body, beautiful finish.

Back a year now to the Maranges 1er Cru Clos de la Boutiere 2015 by Domaine Bachelet Monnot. This is a classic Burgundy with expressive aromas, great depth and texture, fresh acidity and so very well balanced, superb finish as well.

Hard to beat that but Nomad had just the ticket: the biodynamically produced Vosne-Romanée Les Chalandins 2014 by Domaine Jacques Cacheux. Dark fruits on the nose, elegant and silky, complex, one sip to paradise. Great way to end my “visit” to Nomad!

Many of the Nomad wines are available via SIYPS online.

Last week, one hundred bottles of “wine without make-up” were up for tasting in the River Lee Hotel thanks to the combined efforts of four Dublin wine companies. Spit, as it as the combination is called, consists of Winemason, Nomad Wine, Vinostito, and Grapecircus and virtually all the wines were organic. And there wasn't a dud among them. To read our account of the Vinostito stand, please click here . Also at Spit Cork Winemason and Grapecircus.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Low ABV Can Session


A Low ABV Can Session 
Cloudwater Small Citra Ekuanot Pale Ale, 2.9%, 
440 ml can, Bradley’s of Cork


This cloudy yellow Pale Ale may be low in alcohol but it is certainly well up to speed on the hop side with the Pilgrim Alpha doing the bittering business. No shortage of flavour either. It is packed with eight malts and the two hops in the name also figure. You’ll also note a touch of clove on the nose.

Important info on the attractive label includes the message that hops fade fast - fresher is better. Cloudwater are a Manchester based brewery who specialise in modern seasonal beer. Certainly worth exploring. Dry hop intensity is 12 g/l, a stat I haven’t seen featured elsewhere.

Ballast Point Mango Even Keel Session IPA, 3.8%, 355 ml can, Bradley’s of Cork

The Ballast Point Brewery is based in San Diego (USA) and was started in 1996 by friends who were home brewers.

This is a bright and light yellow in the glass with fruit and hop aromas. Fruit (the mango prominent) and hops too on the palate. Pleasant and easy-drinking, had me thinking (wishing) of summer-time in the back-garden. Food pairings suggestions include ceviche and Stilton Cheese - interesting. IBUs = 40.


Five Points Pale, 4.4%, 330 ml can, 
Bradley’s of Cork
London brewery Five Points have added American hops to their British Maris thus “combining our real ale tradition with New World sensibilities”. The combination is quite a success

I first came across this clear and bright  beer at a Five Point tasting in the Abbot Ale House, here in Cork. Francesca Slattery, the company’s Ireland Account Manager, told us that they spent six months developing this. “We had to get it right. It should be our backbone.” They got it right and it now accounts for 60% of their total sales.

It is fresh and modern and aromatic, easy drinking and perfect for any occasion. Perfect is a good word for the beer itself which features Amarillo and Citra hops.

Five Points XPA 4.00%, 330 ml can, Bradley’s of Cork

Pale of colour and a little shy in the aromas. But the palate is not at all timid, a terrific combination of malted barley, malted oats and the Citra (US) and Galaxy (Australia) hops.


No wonder it was retained by the brewery after the reason for its first production, the celebration of a local music festival, had long passed. It is bitter upfront but with a sweeter finish and the Golden Naked Oats help give it a nice mouthful. Easy to enjoy a few of these at a session. Or at a music festival!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Braupakt Hefeweissbier. A Flavoursome Duet with Weihenstephaner and Sierra Nevada.


Weihenstephaner Braupakt Hefeweissbier 6% abv, 35 IBU, 50cl bottle at Bradley’s of Cork*.

Those behind this collaboration between Weihenstephaner (the world’s oldest brewery, 1040) and Sierra Nevada (of much more recent vintage, 1979) have noted a trend away from ultra-bitter beers towards a more aromatic hoppy offering. Scott Jennings, head brewmaster at Sierra Nevada and Weihenstephan’s head brewmaster, Tobias Zollo, have produced this “perfect match” between the revered German hops and the newer American ones.

The name has nothing to do with the cool bear (I first thought it was a St Bernard!) on the front label. Braupakt (literally translated; Brewery Pact) merges “old world” purity standards and brewing methodologies with “new world” innovation and hop flavours. The collaborators say the name also plays on America’s “bro pact”.

This naturally cloudy amber Hefeweizen has a lasting foamy head. Peach, apricot and citrus on the nose, hints of clove too. The pleasant mix of aromas continue in the mouth, banana touches here too and a refreshing grapefruit from the American hops plus sweetish notes from the caramel malt. The beer is balanced and has a moderate tartness that melds into a harmonious mouthfeel on the finish. Very drinkable indeed.

They recommended pairing this wheat beer with exotic and spicy-hot fish, meat and seafood dishes.
The hops used are Hallertauer Tradition, Amarillo and Chinook. Hallertauer, often spelt without the final “r”, has a long history in German lagers. Malts: wheat malt, light and dark barley malt, caramel malt.

An interesting note on Sierra Nevada. When the brewery was founded in 1979 it was the 42nd in the USA. Today, there are close to five and a half thousand. Just shows how far craft beer has come in a relatively short time. Speaking of “short time” this is a limited edition! Well worth a try.

More Weihenstephaner stockists here




Monday, March 26, 2018

Eight Degrees Can Three Of Their Range


Eight Degrees Can Three Of Their Range


Eight Degrees are the latest brewery to can their beers. The Mitchelstown based firm launched three cans this March, two with established favourites and one with a newcomer. Very colourful cans they are too, joining a myriad of other colourful cans on the shelves. Canfusion for me but luckily Michael Creedon in Bradley’s always knows where the one you want is situated.

Brewery co-owner Scott Baigent said: “We've definitely seen an increased demand for cans in recent times and, despite our ongoing love for the 330ml bottle, are releasing three of our beers in 440ml cans.”

Neon Velvet Kiwifruit and Lime infused FPA, 5.0% abv, 39 IBUs

This is the newcomer, a limited edition beer, and only available in cans or on draught. This cloudy beer  is a golden colour. Aromas are bright hoppy. Very pleasant smooth intro. Infused with kiwi and lime and more flavour from the Citrus and Amarillo hops, all before a dry hopping with New Zealand hops Pacific Jade and Motueka. A lovely fruity ale, “hazy, silky and fruity” as they say themselves and with a dry finish.

Lots of food pairing suggestions on the Eight Degrees site but the one I fancy is: “a chunk of good Irish farmhouse cheddar will play off the fruit flavours in both elements of the pairing”.

Citra Single Hop IPA, 5.7% abv, 62 IBUs
Tropical fruit aromas and flavours on display from the get-go here with this pale orange coloured beer. Hoppy notes too in the aromas. The Citra hop holds up well on this solo run, its tropical flavours scoring all the way through, the malt also playing its part in quite a flavoursome drop indeed, fruity and juicy and a good finish as well.

Think I'd like to try that with the suggested “grilled spicy fresh Gubbeen chorizo sausages”.

Full Irish Single Malt IPA 6.0%, 65 IBUs
This excellent beer is well known at this stage, having gathered award after award following its 2014 launch. They describe this as “a hop bomb” and so it is but the bitterness in this pale gold drink is rounded. No shortage of hops in the aromas with citrus and floral notes in there too. Local barley is the malt hero here but the hops (Ahtanum, Centennial, Citra, Amarillo) share the limelight as this clean tasting well-balanced IPA makes its journey across the palate before you enjoy that rounded bitterness at the finalé. Quite a few food suggestions again; I’m inclined to go for the smoked duck, especially if it's Ummera.

So there you go. An excellent way to pass an evening watching Champions League on the telly. Just as well, Barca stopped at three against Chelsea!

Stockists: Eight Degrees beers are widely available in Ireland. Also in Italy, France and the Benelux countries. See stockists hereI got my three (for a tenner) at Bradley's Cork. 


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Mathews & McCan Take A Walk on the Wine Side


Mathews & McCan Take A Walk on the Wine Side
Mary and Kevin Parsons with Café Paradiso's Ger O'Toole (right)

Colm McCan talked the talk and walked the walk as he guided a group of Munster Wine & Dine members around the wine history of Cork City last Saturday. The meeting point was St Peter’s Church in the ancient heart of the city and as we sipped the first of our wines, the Elgin Ridge 282 Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa, Colm filled us in on the huge appetite for wine that our ancestors, especially our mayors, including one called Richard Wine (1273), had for wine. Don't think though that they'd have enjoyed the delicious Ardsallagh Ash Pyramid Goats Cheese that we sampled with the first wine.

Marian Smith, from Ballyjamesduff, is co-owner of Elgin Ridge and all the wines that we’d taste at the various stops would have an Irish connection, the Irish loosely interpreted in some cases! 
Did we lose someone?

Hugh Lawton
Next stop was almost next door at Bradley’s where Michael proudly showed us the amazing gate (really a map in metal of the old city) that his brother mounted on one of many old lanes off North Main Street. Many of the lanes are gone or are blocked up but their names can be seen on plaques built into the pavement. Woodford Bourne is a name linked with the wine trade so it was appropriate that we'd make a stop there.

Then it was on to the Crawford Art Gallery. The older part of this building was once the Custom House and ships, often with wine onboard, would dock here in Emmet Place, now a busy square, and the captains would go in to pay their duty.

In the gallery itself, we stopped in front of the large portrait of Hugh Lawton, mayor of Cork in 1776 and a direct ancestor of Pierre Lawton, the influential Bordeaux based negociant. In a cabinet we saw Penrose glassware. Cork glass pre-dated Waterford crystal and was made from 1783 onwards. 
HM are the missing letters!

The city also produced some of the earliest wine writers, including the famous Maurice Healy. As we moved to our next stop, we passed the GPO which stands on what once was Lawton’s Quay. You can guess what cargoes came in here!

Kevin Parsons has spent a lifetime in wine and he (and his wife Mary) was a guest on the walk and came up with some good stories. In Jacques, as we warmed up with a delicious tagine and a wine (Zouina’s Volubilia Rouge, made in Morocco by a French company with an Irish connection), Kevin told us about famous winemakers he had done business with, including the Mahoneys of the Napa Valley, John Horgan of Western Australia, even the then nascent Nyetimber of England. He is well known for his posters of the Wine Geese and used one of a few mounted in Jacques to illustrate. You may check those posters whenever you’re in the Oliver Plunket Street venue.

Kevin and the rest of us were looking forward to our next arranged halt, at the Old Bond. We did get into the area. Lots of keys available but those to the old vaults couldn’t be found and we had to make do with looking at the exterior, perhaps for the final time, as there are plans afoot to develop this point of land, the final point at the eastern end of the island city. Kevin had been a daily visitor here for decades.
Jules (pic Colm McCan)

So back to the warmth of the top wine venue in Cork, L’Atitude 51. Beverley had been with us all day, helping Colm with the commentaries, and now she was our host, greeting us with a glass of 1701 Franciacorta. The Irish connection here is Rhona Cullinane, a Clonakilty lady who works with this family owned vineyard between Lake Garda and Verona.

Wexford man Pat Neville was described as one of “modern day wine geese” as we sipped his Domaine Aonghusa Bentouly 2014. All the while, there were contributions of mainly Irish interest coming from Colm, Beverley and Kevin.

And then it was time for the finalé: Le Cèdre Malbec vintage 2012. And very nice too, its sweetness a lovely match with the chocolate covered figs from the L’Atitude kitchen. 
And who better to tell us about the wine than Jules, the son of the vignerons, who just happens to be doing work experience at L’Atitude. “It is a Vin doux naturel, raised by organic methods, with an abv of 16%.” When it comes to wine, Mathews and McCan always find an Irish connection! Salut. Cheers. Slainte. 

The old (1724) custom house, now part of the Crawford Gallery