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Friday, October 7, 2016
If Any Beer Can, Franciscan Well Can!
Ireland’s favourite craft beer now available in can
During last weekend’s Dingle Food Festival, I called into the craft beer tent, at the back of Geaney's Bar in Main Street, last Saturday afternoon and was immediately at home as the first stall was that of the Franciscan Well. They were showing their new cans, three of my favourite beers all wrapped up and looking good and shiny.
But I delayed testing the cans as they also had the beers on tap and we enjoyed a Rebel Red (by now a veteran, a veteran that has stood the test of time!) and Chieftain IPA. By the way, I noted the Rebel Red was very popular in Dick Mack's pub during the previous evening. The Rebel and the Chieftain are now available in cans along with the Friar Weisse. The cans will be sold in retailers and off-licences across Ireland, with selected bars also stocking the products.
The announcement marks the first time Franciscan Well, which is brewed in Cork, has canned any of its beers and also the first time that Friar Weisse or Chieftain IPA will be available for purchase in off-licenses.
Acknowledging the rising consumer demand for delicious, flavoursome craft beer in a canned format, founder of Franciscan Well, Shane Long, has spear-headed the move which demonstrates the progressive and innovative thinking which has underlined the success of the Cork-based brewery over the past 18 years.
Commenting on the launch, Shanesaid: “This is a very exciting development for Franciscan Well. Taste and quality are among our core beliefs and we always prioritise ways to ensure that these core traits are present in the beer we create. The decision to move to a canned format reflects the growing trend internationally, whereby more and more craft beers are sold in 330ml can format. This is something that has been prevalent in the U.S. and has proven extremely popular. We are confident this will be the case as we roll out craft in a can for beer-lovers here in Ireland, making our award-winning range of beers even more accessible and readily available.”
All brewing and canning will take place at Franciscan Well’s new brewery in Cork City. The brewery opened last year, allowing for operational growth and further expansion for Ireland’s leading craft beer brand, while staying true to Franciscan Well’s proud history and identity as one of Ireland and Cork’s favourite craft beers. The nearby North Mall brew-pub and home of Franciscan Well will be used an innovation centre, while remaining a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
This decision from the award-winning Cork Brewery is in keeping with internationally recognized best practice for freshness and taste, with cans providing superior product packaging quality and recyclability.
The introduction of the Franciscan Well can range also highlights Franciscan Well’s commitment to offering fans a more accessible and convenient means to enjoy the award-winning range in the comfort of their own homes. They protect and preserve the taste of the beer, which is considered a telling feature by the Franciscan Well brewers. They are also lightweight and portable, meaning they are easier for consumers to enjoy in more places and for bars and off licences to display. The new cans also chill quickly and are recyclable.
“We are very excited about this latest innovation for Franciscan Well, coming as it does less than a year after the opening of our new brewery in Cork,” said Shane Long. “Since its introduction, craft beer in a can has proven extremely popular with consumers. It is a very handy, portable way of consuming the beer and one that preserves the taste better than any other. We are delighted to be able to offer consumers the chance to enjoy our award winning beers in an increasingly popular format in the comfort of their own home.”
In addition to the launch of its all new canned beer offering, Franciscan Well has also introduced a newly redesigned brand logo.
Shane continued: “The new logo more clearly reflects the provenance of the brand and its roots in Cork. The new identity and logo retains the strength of the previous logo, while emphasizing that this is very firmly an Irish beer which was established in Cork and which is still brewed there. We believe that the heritage of Franciscan Well is extremely important and it is something we are very proud of.
“The new brand logo positions Franciscan Well as an authentic Craft brewery from Cork, Ireland. The archway is a new devise that has been created to highlight a strong sense of place, that is welcoming and which captures the unrivalled heritage associated with the brewery founding site along with the welcoming aspect of our range of beers.”
*AC Nielsen ROI On-Trade MAT to end August 2016
Post based on press release
Monday, October 3, 2016
Spirit of Dingle Coming Soon.
On the 18th of December 2012, a week before Christmas, the Dingle Distillery started making whiskey. You may well see the results around this Christmas, as the whiskey has now served more than the necessary three years and one day in 700 litre capacity oak barrels. The period time, the oak and the barrel size are all mandatory, we were told on a tour during last weekend’s Dingle Food Festival.
It looks as if it may be a Happy Christmas for Dingle and for the “Founding Fathers”. These pioneers could also be called the Funding Fathers as it was their money that got the project off the ground, each offering up about six thousand euro for a cask in his or her own name. We saw quite a few of the barrels during the tour and there is also a founding fathers’ wall with all the names inscribed.
The Spirit of Dingle, with the mouth of the harbour featured, is the name of a painting by a local artist that inspired the setting up of the distillery. And that view can be seen from the gates of the distillery which stands on the western edge of the town.
Like all whiskeys, Dingle’s goes through three main stages: fermentation, distillation and maturation. Yeast is added during fermentation and when it sinks to the bottom, that is the end of the fermentation (see timber fermentation vessels in 2x pic slideshow at bottom). By the way, if you can manage a sniff of a vessel when the yeast is active, it is a great way to clear a stuffy nose! Just don’t overdo it – it is potent!
At end of fermentation, the incipient whiskey has an abv of about 10 % , much like a very strong beer. By the end of the next stage the distilling, the abv has risen to 80 or 85%. It is “cut” with water later to bring the strength down to the normal 40%.
The process in Dingle though is distinguished by the use of a boil bowl on two of the copper stills. This gives what you need for nice, smooth spirit: plenty of reflux. This built-in bulge (see 2 x pic slide show below) in the neck – other stills have long slim necks – means the vapour doesn’t all rise right up and condense beyond the drop. You need it to condense and fall back into the still a few times before it eventually condenses and drips into the receiver. And so, to get this smooth spirit before maturation, was why Dingle modified their still design.
I didn’t know that barrels used for the maturation of Irish whiskey had to be a certain size but I did know that the barrels have already been used elsewhere, “secondhand” as our guide Shane termed it. The barrels used most in Dingle have previously held Bourbon, Port, and Sherry. By the way, there is a constant evaporation during maturation, the often quoted Angels’ Share.
Shane then showed us a smaller area where their gin and vodka are produced in a much simpler way, though the gin process “is a little bit more difficult”. Interestingly, Dingle uses no less than 13 botanicals in their very popular gin. All the bottling is done on site.
And the site has been in use, on and off, since 1840 when it started life as a flour mill. I spotted an old mill-wheel in storage. A fire destroyed this first business and later, in 1914, a lumber firm took over.
We were then taken to the tasting room and introduced to the main ingredients: malted barley, milled barley and yeast. Here, we enjoyed a taste of the vodka and the gin. No whiskey to taste, of course, but we did get a drop of the “raw spirit” with an abv of about 65%. Hot stuff, yet it tasted quite smooth – “a good sign” said Shane.
Good things to come, then, from those whiskey casks. All at Dingle and, indeed a wider audience, are looking forward to the day in the very near future when Cask No. 2 is opened. (Cask No. 1 will be kept closed in perpetuity!). Happy Christmas with the spirit of Dingle!
See also: Driving the Dingle Peninsula
Dingle and its massive Food Festival
See also: Driving the Dingle Peninsula
Dingle and its massive Food Festival
Friday, October 17, 2014
The Kinsale Gourmet Academy
|Speaking at the launch were (clockwise from top left)|
David Rice, Lord Mayor Alan Coleman,
Des McGahan and Ross Lewis.
Ross Lewis, the Cork-born Michelin star winning chef and co-owner of Dublin restaurant Chapter One, spoke of his early visits to Kinsale as he launched the spanking new Kinsale Gourmet Academy at Ballinacurra House on Tuesday.
“Kinsale was the only place where you could get coffee in 1978. That was in the Blue Haven, on Saturdays and Sundays only. And it was a bonus if you got a scone, left over from Saturday!”
Ross has a great admiration for the area and especially for Martin Shanahan of Fishy Fishy. At the Chef’s Table in Chapter One, they often have US visitors and these visitors were regularly asked if they were visiting Kinsale. And the usual answer was: Yes, we are going to Fishy, Fishy. Now Ross asks the visitors if they will visit Kinsale, after visiting Fishy Fishy.
Ballinacurra Head Chef David Rice heads up the new purpose built and very well equipped academy. David “missed medicine by about 600 points” and started his culinary career washing potatoes (with an occasional promotion to making sandwiches) in the Blue Haven.
Limerick man David eventually worked under Ross at Chapter One. “What that man taught me. Unbelievable!” He obviously taught David a respect for the country’s artisan producers and the Kinsale academy will showcase their work.
|The sea featured in both demo dishes|
“There will be a variety of courses, including one day, two day, and five day courses, that will be both for learning and relaxing! Next year, we intend to set up a professional course of a much longer duration. I really appreciate this evening’s turnout.”
Cork County Mayor Alan Coleman and owner Des McGahan also spoke at the well-attended launch, both with great humour and that trend continued when Ross and David took the mike. And indeed, it was a feature throughout the cookery demonstration that the pair undertook in the academy itself.
It was a lovely evening in a magical place. Some beautiful canapes and later there were pizzas from the brick oven and cocktails from the newly opened Cuban Bar. The Cuban Cocktail Lounge has authentic paraphernalia and original objects de art items sourced directly from Cuba. It’s the perfect Rum Shack for Havana Club based Mojitos, Cuba Libras, Daiquiris and more.
A large focus for the Academy will be building on Ballinacurra’s reputation for catering for private groups and corporates. Owners Des and Lisa McGahan will work with them to design a bespoke course to suit their needs and objectives, level of capability, and so forth. It will include a teambuilding element, adding in meeting time or other activities.
Individuals will also be able to book into scheduled courses which will range in duration from a half day upwards. Classes will be kept small to ensure the students receive the best quality and one-to one tutoring possible. The Academy has been purpose built with the students in mind, 8 double workstations where 16 students can work hands-on. There is also an instructors island with the top-of-the-range induction hob for demonstrations.
|Ross and David show it's done!|
"Ballinacurra House and Kinsale have become synonymous with fabulous food for many years.
The new Gourmet Academy will further strengthen Kinsale’s reputation as the ‘culinary’ capital’. It was one the key factors missing in Kinsale’s bid as ‘Foodie Capital of Ireland’ and we feel it’s the final piece of the jigsaw which will further add to the prestige of the town,” said Des.
Ballinacurra House, in a rural area on the edge of the town, is set within a walled garden with 10 foot-high stone walls, security gates and 40 acres of woodland and lawns. This elegant country mansion brings back old-world opulence and personal service in a unique and totally private environment. “Our exclusive-use estate allows you the opportunity to share your experiences or special occasion with friends, family or peers in magical ambient surrounds, without compromise.” If you have a corporate event or a family event coming up, why not check it all out here.
Tel: +353 (0)21 4779040
Just about two weeks earlier, I had attended the opening, by Neven Maguire, of the Dingle Cookery School. This is another magnificent facility with a team of excellent chefs in charge of a large range of courses, everything from a half day Catch and Cook course to a four week evening course on Ethnic Cookery. And they also have a couple of Pop-Up Restaurant nights scheduled, including one for Halloween.
See the Autumn/Winter courses at www.dinglecookeryschool.com.
Tel: +353 (0)86 8723521.
Friday, October 10, 2014
Out of the Blue.
Where The Fab Fish Go
|Amuse, soup, and crab|
And then there was quite a finale, a massive multi part dessert: Passionfruit panna cotta, hazelnut, walnut and caramel tart, hazelnut and almond biscuit and a gianduja (a mix of hazelnut and chocolate). “For a treat” they said. And they weren't kidding. Superb dessert, superb meal. Very Highly Recommended.
The Dingle Taste Trail
The Dingle Distillery Tour
My Dingle Food Experience
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
The Dingle Taste Trail
Biggest in the land?
|Time to hit the Taste Trail.|
No danger of going hungry on the streets of Dingle last weekend. No less than 81 outlets took part in the gigantic Taste Trail, a major feature of the annual Food Festival.
And it wasn't just food outlets. An Siopa Ceol, Liam O’Neill Art Studio (where Derry Clarke served up the local Mutton pie) and Dingle Crystal were among those in the merry mix.
And what a mix! Your tokens (or cash) could buy you anything from a Shark Snack to a Pumpkin Soup, from Vegetarian Sushi to those mutton Pies, from a Dublin Coddle to Dingle Fudge. Not to mention a full range of drinks, including local spirits (Dingle Distillery) and local beer (Tom Crean Brewery).
So where to start? The highly rated Out of the Blue was our first port of call and here we enjoyed their shark bites. Tasty stuff. From a nearby wagon, we got some fish on a skewer.
Time then for a glass (or more) of wine at An Siopa Ceol where Karwig Wines rep Frank conducted a band of enthusiasts through a quartet of whites. The opening wine, a “spritzy” Vinho Verde, provided a cheerful allegro. He brought us down to andante then with a duo of Italians, Passarina and Pradalupo. And the finish, a golden 2007 Monbazillac by Chateau Belingard, was dolcissimo. Bravo Frank.
That pleasant interlude behind us, we hit the trail again. Big queues at Fenton’s for their Dexter mini-burgers and at Finn McCools/Bushtucker Meats for the kangaroo. The vegetarian Raclette at the Little Cheese Shop was causing a lot of oohs and aahs as we passed.
|The Karwig Quartet at An Siopa Ceol|
We thought we had all the market stalls covered during our morning ramble but, just off Main Street, we stumbled on another packed section in a cul de sac where we said a quick bon jour to Laurent of Buffalolo. The highlight here was a superb Venison Sausage with a blackcurrant mustard by local butcher Jerry Kennedy.
|At the Pie Cafe|
Didn't have the Breton cider there but, back on the sunny street, the need for a drink asserted itself. An Canteen was (and always had been) our destination of choice.
The street outside was packed and it looked impossible to get in. But there was no bother. It was just that the punters had moved out to get the sun. At the temporary bars set up around the small restaurant space, craft producers such as Franciscan Well, Porterhouse, Mountain Man, and Tempted? were selling their tasty wares.
Met Daniel Emerson (Stonewell) and Sam Black (Kinsale) and they gave me a sample of a cider and beer mix that they have been collaborating on. When I asked what they were calling the tasty drop, full of flavour and strong at 15% or so, they chimed W.I.P. (work in progress!). Worth keeping an eye on.
A shower brought the crowd back into An Canteen. The rain didn't last too long and soon we were looking for something sweet to finish the tour on. Murphy’s Ice Cream was to be our final stop and here I enjoyed their Atlantic Caramel (honeycomb and butterscotch ice cream). A sweet finalé indeed.
See also: Dingle Distillery Tour and My Dingle Food Experience
See also: Dingle Distillery Tour and My Dingle Food Experience
|The Murphy's menu.|
Monday, October 6, 2014
The Dingle Distillery TourWell worth ten of your euros!
|Welcome to the Dingle Distillery|
It doesn't appear yet on their whiskey bottles, the reason being that their irish whiskey is not yet on sale. By law, Irish whiskey (spelt with an e) must mature for three years and one day. That period will be up for Dingle at the end of next year but it could be well into 2016 before Dingle Whiskey appears on the shelves, joining the gin and vodka which are now available and bringing badly needed revenue into the fledgling operation.
Joe took us, a small international group, though the history of the liquid. His story says it was “invented”, though more likely a happy accident, around the time of Christ. The Irish may well have been the first in the Northern Hemisphere to distil it though the first written reference to it here does not appear until 1405.
It is often claimed, and Joe endorsed it, that the word whiskey comes from the Irish word for water which is uisce. Uisce beatha is the Irish name for whiskey and this translates as water of life and has many equivalents (eg aqua vitae) in European languages.
Joe reckons the Norman invaders couldn't quite pronounce uisce (maybe they were drinking too much!) and changed it to whiskey. No shortage of humour when Joe’s your guide. He recalled an old Irish saying: “When you’re well, whiskey makes you sick; when you’re sick, whiskey makes you well.” Whiskey making though is no joke. “If things go wrong, you could end up with porridge.”
He took us through the technical details of the process as we walked around, telling us that towards the end, the alcohol count is in the high 70s, early 80s. The strength is reduced by adding water before bottling.
The process here follows the usual Irish practice.”Triple distillation gives a very smooth whiskey, much smoother than the Scotch which is double distilled.”
Gin, he told us, is a Dutch (not a British) invention and that is why we get the term Dutch courage for alcohol induced bravery. This was just one of a few explanations. He also had one for the term Blind Drunk, no laughing matter. Drinking methanol, one type of alcohol, will literally turn you blind.
Our tasting was of the Gin and Vodka (both in attractive distinctive bottles) and we got a few tips but generally the talk was of whiskey. Joe emphasized the importance of the casks but cautioned that to get good stuff out, you had to put good stuff in.
The cask of choice currently is one that had been previously used for Bourbon, Sherry or Port. We were able to taste some of the immature whiskey, including some at 20 months, and could get the flavour of whatever had been in the cask previously.
Quite a few people have invested in the distillery through buying a cask of the whiskey for the future and these casks are named and stored here. In addition, there is an internal wall where the names of the founding fathers are displayed.
It looks like they have made a wise investment. Joe says that there is a renaissance of interest in whiskey worldwide. Quoting from the New York Times, he said the foxy lady (a name sometimes used for the liquid) is appreciating in value at a higher rate than gold!
And that was it, tour over. On the way down, ex cop Joe said: “Drop into the office and I’ll take ten of your euros off you.” Well worth it Joe. Thanks for the entertaining and informative tour.
I was in Dingle for the Blas na hEireann Awards and the Food Festival. Read all about it here. The Taste Trail was another highlight of the weekend.
My Dingle Food Experience
Festival and Blas na hEireann Awards
Festival and Blas na hEireann Awards
Artie Clifford and his hard-working Blas committee had all the products - there are well over two thousand in some ninety categories - lined up for the tables of judges in the Skellig Hotel. The food and drink products would be fully tested and so to would the palates of the judges as there were two sessions lasting a combined total of around five hours.
You have no idea of who makes what. It is not a blind tasting as such (no blindfolds!) but the unpackaged products in front of you are “anonymous” for want of a better word. There are up to five on the shortlist for each category and each judge tastes quite a few groups over the morning and afternoon. My standout category? I thought the standard in blue cheese (winners: Cashel Blue) was top class, with three of the five outstanding. See the full list of winners here.
|Not all food. This piece, from recycled tyres,|
created by Mick Davis, is called Ram's Head.
With the judging completed - we still wouldn't know the winners until Saturday afternoon - it was time to check in at our accommodation. The next event was the press opening of the Dingle Food Festival at the Tom Crean Brewery. More food here but, after all the little bites during the day, I opted for a couple pints of the cool and fresh Tom Crean lager.
Lovely chats then with fellow judges and bloggers and all fell silent as Neven Maguire, presented earlier with a special award by Blas, cut the ribbon and opened the festival. Next port of call was the bar in Benners. Tom Crean available there too of course and a whole selection of Irish craft beers included on the drinks menu.
|Neven Maguire at the opening of the|
Dingle Cookery School.
Very impressed with that development (Benner’s also have Dingle vodka and gin from the local distillery). Next stop was An Canteen, another huge supporter of craft beers. Here hosts Brian and Niall greeted us and served up a fantastic meal, made with pride and passion and no little skill, from local produce. Even Neven was highly impressed.
Time then, for me at least, to stroll down the lane and head back to the bed. Friday would be another busy and very enjoyable day.
|Blas winners on the double:|
East Cork's Sandra and Joe Burns.
The rain came down for a while on Friday morning but that didn't stop the punters from turning up in the farmers market to see Neven Maguire signing his new book Fast. He was in great form, chatting and smiling and standing in for photos as the fans queued up to buy the book.
Thanks to Lisa McGee (@Dingle Spirit on Twitter), we had heard that there was a two o’clock tour at the Dingle Distillery so we strolled out to the west of the town and joined an international group for a very interesting 75 minutes or so. See separate post here on this tour.
|Fun times at Tom Crean's|
On the way back, we called into the Dingle Cookery School opening. Here again, Neven was doing the honours and, as usual, joining in the fun. It is a tremendous facility. Lots of courses are now available, some short, some long. Check out all the details here. Hope to do a separate story on this also.
And still more to do. Next Blas event was the announcement of the winners in the awards given by the local enterprise offices. Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Limerick, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Tipperary and Waterford were among those represented at Benner’s. Delighted to see Beara Seafoods and Joe’s Farm, two small family producers that I've met this year, among the winners.
|Dessert at Idás|
Friday night found a group of us in Idás, an excellent restaurant more on John Street. Lots of conversation and good food, good wine too, as an enjoyable evening unfolded. Great to meet chef and owner Kevin Murphy who had laid on a special tasting menu for us. Check Idás out if you’re in the town or the area - worth a detour!
The rain, aside from a few showers, held off on Saturday and just as well. First stop was the Blas Producers Networking Event. Buyers were here in their dozens and it was great chance for the producers to show and talk about their produce. Lovely to meet up again with Olivia from An Olivia Chocolates, a winner last year (and gold again this year), with Sam from Cloudberry Bakery (also a gold this year - see her tasty produce in Brown Thomas in Cork) and with so many more.
|On the Taste Trail at Out of the Blue.|
Their shark bite (front) was a big hit!
And then it was off to the market which covers most of the central streets of the town. This includes the regular farmers market but it is so much more. Producers who have won in the previous year’s awards had the opportunity to have a stand and so the selection of foods and drinks is huge. The Foods of Athenry, Hartnett’s Oils, Wild Irish Foragers and Blurini Blasta were among the many stops we made.
Soon though we were down to business, on the Taste Trail. With over 80 participants, this must be the biggest and best of its kind in the country (if not, let me know!). Everything, from shark to kangaroo, from ling pie to Dingle Fudge, from wine to craft beers and ciders, available. Purchase with your book of tokens or with cash. Separate post here.
|Saturday's special menu at Out of the Blue (OOTB)|
All the while the awards were being presented in the cinema and again it was a delight to see many hard working producers that I know get their just rewards.
Just as well our booking for Saturday's dinner was on the late side. It was 9.15 when we arrived at Out of the Blue, the fish specialist restaurant on the waterfront in Dingle. The French chefs had a special multi-course menu for the night, even a special wine menu. It was a terrific meal in a small place with a great atmosphere and a great staff. Highly recommended. Post to follow.
Stamina had run out by the time Sunday morning dawned. There was still much to do, including the Taste Trail and market again, but home called and we headed east with lots of lovely memories and a promise to ourselves to call again.
Slán go fóill.