Showing posts with label Cider. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cider. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Con's Irish Cider. The Real Thing!


Con's Irish Cider Medium Dry, 5.5%, 500ml bottle

Got myself some of this delicious cider when I recently called to its “birthplace”, the Apple Farm owned and run by Con Traas near Cahir in County Tipperary.

Provenance needs to be clearly stated these days. This is real Irish cider made from seasonal Irish apples grown on the farm where visitors are always welcome. Indeed, they have a camping site in among the orchards.

A pity that we have to keep banging on abut real cider, real beer, even real food. But there are many producers out there quite willing to muddy the water and often the consumer is confused.

Con has thought long and hard about a definition and has come up with this. Real Irish Cider is made and bottled in its entirety in Ireland using the juice of Irish grown apples, without the routine addition of either water or sugar. See the Apple Farm website for more info.

Con’s Cider has a bright mid amber colour with lots of lively little bubbles. Modest but definite aromas, hints of the fruit. On the palate is where you notice the “real” element, supple and flavoursome, more on the dry side of medium, and with a good dry finish. Enjoy!

That initial burst of flavour in the mouth reminded me of something Brooklyn brewer Garrett Oliver said at Ballymaloe LitFest a few years ago: You hear people say, when they taste a craft beer: This is nice, doesn't taste like beer. He had an explanation: ‘The beer they grew up with didn't taste like real beer!’


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.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

"We work on what the year gives us". Evening Visit to Killahora Orchards

"We work on what the year gives us"
 
Evening Visit to Killahora Orchards

A group of members of the Munster Wine & Dine spent a very enjoyable evening on a tour and tasting at Killahora Orchards near Glounthaune yesterday (Tuesday). Barry was our enthusiastic guide as we got both our whistles and our feet (aside from those who had brought wellies) wet in a most delightful way. 

Some of us had already marked Killahora products, including Johnny Fall Down cider, the Pom 'O Apple Port and their unique Rare Apple ice wine, among our favourite things. Those who hadn't come across them before were converted on this tour and tasting. And Barry (and his cousin Dave) who are responsible for this innovative orchard have more in the pipeline.

For more details on Killahora Orchards please check my January post here. Photos (and a few comments) from Tuesday's tour follow.

Blossom on a very young red fleshed apple tree. Rosé Cider?

Barry (striped top) finds a very stragglers under the crab tree. Lots of chat from Barry including pruning tips
and also the fact that cows don't like tannins!

Spray in the more established but still young orchard. The pears behind have already shed their blossom.

Promise of good things to come

Cork Harbour views from the orchards, above and below


Checking on how the grafts are taking.

Keeping out the rabbits. "We thought at first we and the rabbits
were on the same hymn-sheet but soon found out they
had their own agenda."

In full bloom. Not a crab tree, but a wilding and one of the most promising they found in the hedgerows/
It is coming in for particular attention "grafting the bejasus out of it". "We're going to keep
the wild ones going, to include in our mix."

The tasting line-up (some of it!). "We work on what the year gives us."
"In the cidery, we do as little as possible to it."

Another view of Cork Harbour

This Killahora tree appears on the Pom'O label.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Busy 2017 for Johnny Fall Down. Killahora Orchards Operation Expands.

Busy 2017 for Johnny Fall Down.

Killahora Orchards Operation Expands.
Barry (left) and Dave

This time last year, most of us heard about Johnny Fall Down for the first time. Their Rare Apple Cider was hitting the shelves. And not staying there very long as it was being snapped up.

I first visited the orchard at Killahora, near Glounthaune, last March and met Barry and Dave. Dave has a particular interest in trees and plants while Barry is the man that turns the fruit into alcohol. The combination is a natural, has expanded and is expanding. Watch these warm south-facing slopes for more delicious developments.

Then they had over forty apple varieties. Now, on last week's visit, they told me thay have over 114. They also have about 40 pear varieties here, the latest a bundle of young Welsh pears. A similar bundle is on the way from Austria (Barry is thinking schnapps!).

They now have three products available commercially, including the latest edition of Johnny Fall Down, their award winning Bittersweet Cider. They have also created a uniquely Irish Rare Apple Port (Pommeau), and the first Ice Cider created mainly from Bittersweet varietals. 

I came across the Pom’O and the Rare Apple Ice Wine at SpitJacks on Washington Street where they form part of the amazing Cheese and Fortifieds Menu. More details about the Pommeau here .

The Ice Wine which may, in the future, be barrel aged, is made from the juice of their rare apples, concentrated using freezing temperatures and slowly thawed. The resulting beautiful deep and rich must is slowly fermented for a year and stopped before completion, leaving half of the apple sugars intact…nothing is added, so the abv is a low 10.8%.

The south facing land exposed to the Atlantic, “gives us the opportunity to create an infinity of expressions of the land itself, that will surely change year to year, but we hope will retain a familiar style and optimum quality”.
Dave, with his Welsh pears

The pair are hugely enthusiastic about the future, Barry always thinking about the various blends that are possible and that will become possible as the trees mature. 

And it is not just the apples and the pears in their neat lines. The hedgerows around their 30 or so acres include fifteen old crab trees, all with different characteristics that show in the fruit (apple babies don't grow up resembling their parents). 

Even months after the crab crop had been gathered in, there was still enough solid fruit on the ground to taste last week. The first one we sampled was close in taste to a normal green apple, the second on the opposite hedgerow, was much sourer.

And, as if the 15 crab trees (some of them quite large) aren't enough, they have planted other fruits in amongst them. Early days yet! But it’s not all plain sailing. Storm Ophelia did some damage to the established fruit trees in the orchard and one or two in the hedgerow have been chewed by the local wildlife! 
The Future.

OS Maps from 1838 show an orchard in the same place as it is today, with the same old walls bounding it, and the same south facing slopes slowly ripening the best of fruit. The revival is moving forward impressively and with help from Mother Nature! A beekeeper, Mick, has been recruited to set up hives around the orchards and we met him during the visit.


The bees will be helping with pollination. Already though Barry is looking forward to an interesting honey. I think some of it will end up in bottles rather than jars! 

What is also interesting is that the operation has found a natural ally in the mixologists at Cask. They bounce ideas off one another and often find out that two heads are better than one. Recently,  with help from others, they combined to make the world’s first single field cocktail! 
View of Cork Harbour from the Orchard: Fota Island stretches along centre from the left. See its folly (the tower on the point) just beyond the railway bridge on the Cork-Cobh line, both in right hand quarter of pic.
Barry thinks Cask is a marvellous place, one of the best in Ireland and the UK, and was not at all surprised that the McCurtain Street venue swept the boards at the Irish Cocktail Championships.

Dave is just as enthusiastic (and knowledgeable) in his field. Last year, he showed his skill with tongue and groove grafting. While not quite the season for it, this time we got an example of Chip budding which is one of the easier forms of grafting. 

A bud, rather than a shoot, is attached to a rootstock to produce a new plant. With practice, this technique can be mastered by anyone and, as just one bud is needed to make a tree, it is very efficient. Amazing how one tiny bud contains all the genetic material necessary to take over the host.

If there’s a lot going on outdoors, there’s a hell of lot going on indoors. In the cidery itself, there all all kinds of containers quietly getting there. No doubt some “experiments” will be cut short but others will succeed. There are three ex Bourbon casks employed here. We got a taste of one, a very encouraging taste indeed with the promise of whiskey notes to come in some future Killahora product.

So what can we expect next from Glounthaune? An apple champagne, no less! It is underway. Lots of bottles standing upside down in the cool cellar, a 180 year old shed. Just like champagne, the sediment will be frozen in the neck of the bottle, disgorged and then replaced with a dosage (a little sugar). The mind bubbles. 
Beekeeper Mick



Sunday, August 27, 2017

Great Irish Beer Fest. Beer, Cider, Food, Music

Great Irish Beer Hall

Beer, Cider, Food, Music
Michael Cowan of award winning Mont
Headed to the City Hall at the weekend for the Great Irish beer Festival. Some twenty brewers were listed so that meant a huge choice. While each exhibitor displayed their menu, there was no overall list, such as you’d find at a wine-tasting. 

More difficult then to find a particular pathway through that amount of beer. Who had the sours? Who had the stouts? Did they bring them? Were all the recent award winners here?

It would have been made a little easier also if there was a measure smaller than the half-pint (€2.75). On the other hand, if you knew exactly what you wanted, all you needed to do was fill your glass (€5.50) to the pint mark!
Beer Hall!

I had targeted Sullivan’s from Kilkenny for my first call. That worked out well and there’ll be a separate post tomorrow on their lovely award winning red ale.

Indeed, there were award winners all over the hall, including local brewery Rising Sons who are having a great month: “August 2017 has been an incredible month for us, winning 5 Gold Medals at The World Beer Awards 2017.”

Not too far away in this bright room, with the tables and seats, was the Mont stall and they too were celebrating a World Beer Award as their lager was named the Country Winner (Ireland) for “Czech Style Pilsner Lager”. 

Michael Cowan of Manor Brewing (Wicklow) is the public face of Mont, Ireland’s “super-premium Pilsner lager”. They use pure Wicklow Mountain spring water, the finest barley malts, Hallertau, Saaz and Cascade hops.

Michael said they are a dedicated lager brewery. “With the very soft Wicklow water we have, our super-premium lager is better than the main stream piss and we are trying to improve lager’s image with a big concentration on packaging.”

Their Bohemian style Pilsner has “an Irish accent” and an ABV of 5.1%. You can quickly taste why it is picking up awards. There is quite a backbone to it, full of flavour and hop character and a superb dry finish, great balance all through. “Moreish” as they say themselves.

Just to compare, I took a token over to Eight Degrees - they were in the darkened room - and got a glass of their Barefoot Bohemian,  “an unorthodox lager with complex biscuity malt, soft rounded bitterness and a twist of spice from the noble Saaz and Hallertau hops.”  
This crisp and lovely Pilsner doesn't quite have the heft of the Mont but, at 4% ABV, is perfect for a session. And it has retained its popularity since the summer of 2012 when the Mitchelstown brewery introduced it as a seasonal beer. 

The Cotton Ball’s Indian Summer is another beer that has surprised its creators. This hybrid, “capturing the best of ale and lager” was supposed to be a seasonal but goes on and on.

After that we welcomed the Shoot the Breeze, a 4.5% ABV California Common, just introduced by the Franciscan Well. “This light hazy amber beer has a distinct fruit background as a result of our own unique twist!” I'm a big fan of the Well's core beers and the Chieftain, Friar Weisse and Rebel Red completed their line-up on the night.

Time now for stout, after all we are in Cork. And the Cotton Ball make a terrific stout, Lynch’s, in the traditional creamy style. But there’s no shortage of substance, coffee and caramel and a dry finalé, behind the silky smoothness. A pleasure indeed to sink one of these.

Two heads are better than one, according to Jameson, talking about their Caskmates, which has emerged from a collaboration between themselves and the Franciscan Well Brewery. 

First, the Well used whiskey casks to brew two beers,  Jameson Aged Stout launched in 2013 and Jameson Pale Ale launched in 2014. The stout-seasoned casks were then returned to Midleton and this whiskey is the result. It has worked well and Jameson are now engaged in similar ventures with some US breweries.

No alteration to the usual Jameson smoothness in Caskmates. Maybe there is a hint of hops there but, back in the dark room, I wasn't paying full attention as I sipped and chatted as the music played. It is a modern easy drinking fruity whisky with a long sweet finish. Quite a lovely finalé to my excellent evening in the City Hall. For the music fans, the night was only beginning, 

* My favourite beers, from the fraction that I sampled, were: the Mont Pilsner, Lynch’s Stout, and Sullivan’s Red Ale.

See also: An Ale of Two Families. Brewery Lost in a Bet.




Monday, August 7, 2017

Taste of the Week On the Double: Crépinettes and Cider

Taste of the Week

On the double: Crépinettes and Cider


Just west of the city, Mark Hennessy raises a few free range pigs. To the east, Johnny Fall Down makes an award winning cider. Put them together and you have our Taste of the Week!


In the city’s English Market, butcher Eoin O’Mahony makes crépinettes (and more) from the limited supply of Hennessy’s pork. When I arrived there on Saturday morning, he had sold out but was about to make more!



In the meantime, I headed up to Bradley’s and got a few items including the 2016 Johnny Fall Down, reckoned to be better than the initial 2015 and “flying out the door”.

Back at the Market, I picked up my crépinettes (six for a tenner) and headed home. They were in the bag with the cider but I had no idea at all at that stage that I'd be putting the two together that evening.
 Had a chat with the official blog chef and hatched the plan. The pork would be started in the pan and finished in the oven, a  cream, butter and tomato sauce would be added along with some mushrooms. And we’d pair it with the cider. It turned out to be a match made in Cork (otherwise known as food heaven), just perfect.


Either would have been good on its own but together they were outstanding. The Johnny Fall Down Rare Apple Cider 2016 has an ABV of 5.8% and cost €7.50 for 750ml at Bradley’s. 

This pure, strong bittersweet cider is made from no less than 47 varieties of cider apple, most grown on the warm south facing slopes of Killahora. They warn that if you still have any lingering love of commercial cider, this will liquidate it!

Due to the limited supply, O’Mahony’s won’t have these crépinettes every week but Eoin may well have others. Recently he did kid and veal. On Saturday, Eoin told me he had six of Hennessy's hams curing so they should be available any day now!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

BLAIRS INN OLD BUTTER ROADS FOOD TRAIL FESTIVAL

BLAIRS INN OLD BUTTER ROADS FOOD TRAIL LAUNCH

Duncan Blair has been on to tell us all about their plans for the launch:

> We'll have special Old Butter Road Trail dishes on our menus throughout the launch weekend (28th April to May 1st). We'll be serving artisanal Butter Road cocktails and craft beers throughout all weekend. On Bank Holiday Monday at 4pm we'll be putting on a cooking, craft cocktail and beer Demo in our garden. We be cooking up dishes and breads featuring the produce of the Butter Road.
>
> Hake on Waterfall Farm Kale with a caper Beurre blanc
> Confit of McCarthy's pork belly with a Gubbeen chorizo cassoulet
> Nine White Deer Stout glazed Macroom short rib of beef
> Stag Bán beer & lime sorbet with a Longueville Cider foam
> 60 second beer bread
> Cotton Ball Stout brownies
>
> Richie will be showing off his cocktail skills using our range of artisanal gins, vodkas & whiskeys.
>
> We'll be giving out samples of food and drink. We'll also be serving a special three course dinner featuring the dishes from the demo.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Johnny Fall Down. Warm Glounthaune slopes ideal for cider apples.

Johnny Fall Down

Warm Glounthaune slopes ideal for cider apples

A farm that has been recovered from a semi-wilderness is the unlikely scene for a craft cider revolution. Thanks to Dave and Barry of Johnny Fall Down we had a tour of the fields at Killahora (Glounthaune) last week where the south-facing slopes are planted with over 40 varieties of apple.

Not just apples. Pears are there in abundance. And other fruits trees too, including damson, plums. Even though this current operation started in 2010/11, there is a orchard history here, going back through the centuries, evidenced by an old wall (a relic of a walled garden). And reminders in the hedgerows, gnarled old crab trees and some wilding too.

And it is not just fruit either. Dave has a particular interest in trees and plants and so here you’ll find some rare ones, everything from tiny Bee Orchids to huge (not yet!) Sequoias.

They focus on the rare apple varieties here, Barry tells me, as we climb the slopes. “They give us more punch.” And you can try that for yourself. Their first product, the Johnny Fall Down rare apple cider, is available around Cork city in various pubs including Cask and The Roundy.
The south-facing slopes are ideal. It just seems warmer there. And, by the way, there is a fantastic view, a panorama of Cork harbour and estuary and the islands, including nearby Harper’s and Fota. And birds of prey hover above on the thermals.

All the apples and pears (already in flower) are planted in neat rows, all tidy and well maintained. But those twisted old crabs trees in the hedgerows are amazing. The first one that we saw had hundreds of little apples, many of them quite sound, on the ground underneath, months after they had fallen. 
Dave (left) and Barry

And they'll soon have company. Dave and Barry intend to plant fruits and herbs in and about the hedgerows. In a few years time, you'll see cherries and more in the wild.

We were just in time to see Dave do a bit of grafting, a Turner’s Barn pear was being introduced to its host Pyro Dwarf. First he cut the Turner’s, at about 45%, down to the Cambium (layer of tissue in the middle), and repeated the procedure on the host. Then, the tricky part, making a tongue and groove so that the union would be even better. 
from an old crab apple tree!

Then he bound the two with a bio-degradable tape (keeps in the moisture and allows the graft to take) and it was ready to go. “Not rocket science,” he humbly admitted. But still one just had to admire the enthusiasm and the precision as he demoed the ancient art. After the demo, it was work as hundreds remained to be done!

Then, time for a tasting, starting with some of the single varietals. Some had the acidity to the fore, others sugar, others tannins. Getting the balance right is the challenge for Barry in the months and years ahead.
Could be drinking from the fruit of this in about five years time!

It won't be just cider. Already one of their products, a pommeau, is being used in cocktails. Barry also plans a Perry, champagne style!  Perhaps the one that made the biggest impression on me was the Ice Cider, even if it was still only half-way on its journey. I usually - inadvertently, I hastily add -  pick the expensive ones. “A lot of juice required to make this!”.

And soon we would say goodbye and leave this beautiful part of the parish behind. The terroir seems to be just perfect for purpose and Dave and Barry complement each other perfectly also. Their knowledge and expertise is top notch. 
Pear bursting out

And there is enthusiasm in abundance. More importantly though, there is patience, there is no rush, they’ll wait for nature (magic in those hedgerows in years to come) and produce accordingly. I can’t wait to see what Killahora comes up with next but Dave and Barry can and their products will be all the better for it. Watch this space.

An old crab tree

And what of the man himself? We read on our sample bottle that Johnny Fall Down is a rare apple cider, bitter-sweet with an abv of 5.5%, made from 42 varieties of cider, many of them unique to the Glounthaune producers. It has a lovely light amber colour, bubbles galore on the rise. Aromas hint of really ripe orchard fruit and there are hints of tropical fruit on the well balanced palate. The "rosé like" finish comes from a mix "of rarer tannins" that have matured for six months. Well worth waiting for!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Stonewell Cider Cheers! Win yourself a hamper.

Stonewell Cider Cheers!
Win yourself a hamper.

Stonewell Irish Craft Cider have enjoyed  “an astonishing year” and are spreading the cheer on Social Media. 

In 2016, the Nohoval (Cork) cidery were crowned the Supreme Champion at the National Irish Food Awards (Blas na hEireann) and also won accolades at international events. “None of which would have been possible without the support and encouragement from you, our customers."

So, for Christmas, they are running a competition on all their social media. It starts today 1st December and the winner will be announced on 15th December. The prize is a Stonewell Christmas hamper containing a selection of Stonewell Cider products along with produce from local businesses such as Hassett's Bakery and Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese.

It is easy to enter. Simply ‘like’ the Stonewell Facebook page and post a photograph of a Stonewell Cider (drinking, cooking, wrapping presents etc) using #stonewellchristmas on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Good luck!

And, speaking of cooking, watch out for the Cinnamon Apple Cake video which will be up on the 5th December.

Twitter: @stonewellcider
Facebook: /Stonewellcider