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

Monday, May 23, 2016

Irish Craft Cider. A Litfest16 Event

Irish Craft Cider
A Litfest16 Event
Pete Brown, author of the World’s Best Cider, said the Irish craft cider scene is one of the most exciting right now. The ciders have “high juice content” and the makers “love their apples”. One of the most exciting yes, despite rankling under a very unfair tax regime that would seem to be designed to stifle innovation rather than encourage it.

Take Longueville House Cider Mór as an example. Because producer William O’Callaghan has added a wee spoon of brandy to his basic cider, the tax on Mór is five times the normal. Leslie Williams has raised the general issue many times, saying the current rebate system, which is very good for craft beer makes, is unfair on cider makers. The producers of an excellent wholly Irish product are being punished.

So that's the sour notes out of the way. The rest of this panel discussion, the opening one in the Drinks Theatre at this year’s Ballymaloe Litfest, was focussed on five delicious ciders, five quite different examples, none of which would have been available just a few short years ago.

Pete Brown was joined on the panel by Leslie and by Caroline Hennessy, author of Slainte. 

They and the audience were welcomed to the “tractor shed” by Ballymaloe’s Colm McCan as we gathered to hail cider, the drink of the common people for perhaps 2,000 years, according to Pete.

Producer Simon Tyrrell introduced his Craigies 2013 Dalliance. Simon, well known for his wine background, says with Dalliance “we try to express the vinous side of cider”. He mentioned the terroir (Cappoquin Estate, sandstone). The apple blend is fifty fifty between Ekstar and Falstaff, both eating apples, and it spends 15 months on its lees.

Bright fresh fruit with extra creaminess here and you’ll note some cloudiness from the yeasts. Pete Brown said Dalliance proves you can make cider out of eating apples. And this is a good one.

“We use no chemicals at any point” said Rod Calder-Potts as he introduced his organic Highbank Proper Cider 2014. “We encourage microbial activity to counter any malign organisms...Cider makes sulphites...we put it in a barrell..local yeasts do the rest.”

This was bottled just last week by Con Traas, is 100 per cent apple and naturally dry. Pete loved the contrast between the first two ciders and confessed to being obsessed by yeast, at least with how the yeast converts sugar to alcohol! Leslie reminded us that, compared to beer makers, cider makers get just one chance per year.

And now Leslie introduced yet another type of Irish cider, Cockagee from County Meath. He did mention that there was “devilment” in the name but didn't go into the details. It is keeved, a process common in Brittany and Normandy and explained here on the Cockagee website.
Pete said you can only shake your head with wonder that a process from the 14th or 15th century can still produce a “beautiful natural cider. In a blind tasting, I would class this as Breton and it would be a perfect match with crepes”. Caroline agreed but their hints for crepes went unheeded!

William O’Callaghan, as he introduced his Longueville Mór, disclosed that the first apples in their orchard, planted 25 years ago, were intended for apple brandy rather than cider and that their micro-distillery was the first such in ireland. William, a chef who trained in Normandy, started the move to cider there about two years ago.

The Mór is their regular cider with a drop of apple brandy that “gives it a nice little kick”. It fermented naturally with local yeasts and produced with no sulphite. It went down very well indeed and William is proud of it, quite rightly, “but that tax is a pain!”.  Caroline asked him what food would pair with it. On its own or maybe with cheese was the answer. I had it a week or two ago at a cider evening in Electric with fish and chips. Caroline herself was thinking Lemon tart!
The Ballymaloe five. Dead men.
We finished with the limited edition (6,000 bottles) Stonewell Tawny 2014. Daniel Emerson told us all about it: “it is a chapitalised dry hop cider..the natural sugar is supplemented with additional sugar and this raises the ABV… minimum aging is 12 months and there is an extraordinary range of flavours over the 12 months”. Lots of tasting, no doubt!

At the end of the process, the cider is “very sweet, like an apple ice-cider”. They decided to counteract this by passing it through Eldorado dry hops. The result was very good and the Tawny has “proved remarkably successful.” And we could all see why. Pete was delighted with it saying it reminded him of a Canadian Ice Cider, “beautiful’.

Overall, it was a great reminder of how far Irish Cider has come in a few years. Perhaps next a tasting of these five might be arranged for the Dail bar and a few home truths delivered at the same time, in the nicest possible way of course!

See also: Hops and Glory. Seven IPAs before breakfast. Only at LITFEST16
Irish Atmospherics at John Wilson Tasting. Mediterranean Island Wines in Spotlight. LITFEST16

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Limerick’s Locke Bar. Food And Music Down By The River

Limerick’s Locke Bar
Lively, By The River
Crab claws

Limerick’s Locke Bar is so well located, just by the water on George's Quay. We were there a few weeks back and obviously the timber seats and tables on the river-banks were not in use. But you could easily imagine them full in summer with a string of boats tied up at the pontoon below. The bar, a large one, is also situated conveniently close to attractions such as the Hunt Museum and King John's Castle. And, in addition, it is well known for its food and music, not to mention the buzz.

That buzz hit us full on as we walked in the doors early on a Thursday evening. We were trying to get our bearings when a server spotted us and sorted us out. Soon we were seated in the small square restaurant, alongside the bar and facing part of the long counter.

She showed us the specials on the wall and soon we were ordering, sipping a deliciously zesty Deakin Estate Artisan's Blend Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (5.75 a glass) as we did so. My starter was the very enjoyable Dingle Bay Crab Claws with Chardonnay cream and Garlic Bread (10.50). I got through that pretty quickly while CL took a bit longer as she enjoyed her mussels from Castletownbere, served a la Mariniere (9.00).

Chicken (and Chardonnay)

We were tempted by the Pork and Salmon specials on the board but in the end settled for two off the regular menu. I was delighted with my the Supreme of Irish chicken with asparagus spears, gratin potatoes, bacon and mushroom cream (14.50). Excellent chicken with a rich and creamy sauce.The Tempura Fried Scampi (16.50) was not of quite the same standard, the tempura that bit much for the delicate fish.

We could also have had dishes such as the Beef and Locke Stout Casserole, Fish and Chips, Fish Pie and Burger. It is generally fairly typical well-priced well-cooked pub grub. Dessert was also an option but, after a good lunch at Sage earlier and a good feed here, we gave it a skip.

They serve their own stout and a very good selection of Irish craft beers including a few from Nine White Deer in West Cork. You often notice just one craft cider in Irish pubs but there were at least three here: Dan Kelly's, Craigie’s, and Longueville House. They specialise in whiskey too.

Benches on the bank

Locke's Bar is situated on the original site of one of Limerick's oldest pubs - they've been drinking here since 1724. It was cosy the other night, with the fires burning nicely. But it would be great to see it in its summer glory and maybe try that casserole with a pint of their own stout on the bench outside.

Whatever time you come, you'll get the buzz and the music. There is a session every night of the week and everyone is welcome. Will have to call back.

*In the Gents at the Locke Bar, they have a metal shield along the base of the pissoir to prevent you spraying your own shoes! I christened that the Parapee (based on the French parapluie!).
The Locke Bar
3 George’s Quay

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Craft Cider’s Challenges. More Like Wine Than Beer

Craft Cider’s Challenges.

More Like Wine Than Beer
You can see the lone Elstar is bigger and better looking than the surrounding Dabinett!

Gin, Whiskey and Cider were among the tipples highlighted in a drinks series at Merry’s Pub in Dungarvan as part of the West Waterford Food Festival. Simon Tyrrell spoke on Craft Cider on Saturday and gave us an idea of the challenges, both natural (weather, terroir) and regulatory (punitive duty), facing the new wave of producers.

Simon, a winemaker in the Rhone, makes Craigie's Cider in County Wicklow, where his partners are Angus Craigie, Ralf Högger, Emma Tyrrell and Alan Garrioch.  Sourcing good apples can be a problem; Simon is convinced that Ireland produces some of the best apples in the world “but difficult to find”.

Dabinett and Michelin are perhaps the best known cider apples in Ireland. Simon works a lot with Dabinett. “It looks awful, gnarled, small. The flesh is woody and it has tannins.” But these tannins give structure and also help the cider age and eventually helps the interaction between cider and food.

Cider makers only get one chance a year to get it right - a major difference with the making of beer! “We only make vintage cider, “ he said, as he introduced us to Craigie’s Dalliance 2012. “No blends from different years. Cider should taste different from year to year.” Cider looks to express the best qualities of the fruit, show where the nuances lie.
The apples used in 2012 were from the Cappoquin Estate. Elstar is a favourite with Simon: “the finest eating apple” accounts for fifty per cent of the blend. The varieties, the other is Falstaff, were fermented separately “because they ripened separately” and are then allowed sit on the lees for 15 months.

“You have pear and apple like flavours and a natural freshness. The PH, at 2.9, is very low and this helps protect the emerging cider”.

Next up for tasting was the Dalliance 2013 and there were differences, some down to the weather which was better for this one. June and July were very good months and September was above average.

“This is a different drinking experience. It is drier, has a less complex flavour profile but not the concentration of the 2012. Might get there but not sure!”

If the Dalliance illustrated the effect of the weather, the next cider, the Ballyhook Flyer, showed the way soil can impact on the cider. The Flyer is their “principal” cider and is made from 80% Dabinett (availability of this type is increasing) and also some Katy (desert) and Bramley. As he talked  us through the Flyer 2012, we could see that the “dry” sensation is more prominent than in the Dalliance. “Because the PH is higher.”

An extra orchard, near Carrick on Suir, was used for Dabinett in 2013. Here, a slight change in the soil type gave the cider more body, more tannin, and Simon is thinking of using barrel aging in future vintages of the Flyer to “help polish the tannins”. The aromas at this stage are less expressive. It has some of same characteristics as the 2012 but the style is “more gripping” because of the new source for the Dabinett.
Get the best of Irish drink in Merry's: beer, cider, spirits.

And if the problems posed by the weather and the terroir weren't enough of a challenge, you have the punitive tax imposed by the government if the ABV (alcohol by volume, expressed as a percentage) is higher than six per cent and remember that higher ABV could be a natural outcome of the harvest. Luckily EU law allows variations but generally Irish law on the subject does not cater for variations of nature and this can encourage people to water it down. Not what we want at all. And certainly not what any craft cider maker wants.

Happily, we have dedicated people like Simon leading this new wave of cider makers and they should be supported in their efforts. You can see the list of makers here at Cider Ireland. The best way that we can support them is buy local Irish craft cider. And there are some excellent ciders out there as was so ably illustrated in Merry’s.
See also: A Tour of West Waterford Producers on the Bus Bia
See also: The Tannery Kitchen Supper.
See also:

Dungarvan Wrap-Up. West Waterford Festival of Food

See Also: 

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