Showing posts with label Lough Gill Brewery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lough Gill Brewery. Show all posts

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Six of the Best from Lough Gill Brewery

Lough Gill Beers
Six of the Best
During a recent visit to Lough Gill Brewery in County Sligo, we got to taste a good few of the beers and left with a bagful to try out at home. Got a chance to do just that at our leisure recently. We started with three of their core beers, the first three below, and then moved on to some of their limited editions, the final three. Great variety coming from the banks of the Garravogue, one of Ireland's shortest rivers. Keep them coming lads and great to see them available in Bradley's on Cork's North Main Street.

Lough Gill Thieving Bastards Pale Ale, 5%, 440ml can
Just a small family owned brewery in Sligo taking on the big beers from God knows where. And making a right fine fist of it. And some mighty fine beers too.

Amber is the colour of this not so pale ale, indeed it's not too far off the red ale colour. Rich and malty on the palate and a lip-smacking dry finish. Recommended.

Lough Gill Mac Nutty Macadamia Nut Brown Ale, 5.5%, 440ml can
The guys at Lough Gill admit to having hand-toasted “trays upon trays of macadamia nuts” for this brown ale. No doubt about the colour here, a rich dark brown. Rather handsome overall from the introduction that deposits bags of flavours. It has an excellent body and a nice balance of hops and malt. Not unlike the Newcastle Brown Ale that you find in a pint bottle.

Macadamia nuts, by the way, are native to Australia and are full of healthy fats. Highly Recommended.

Lough Gill Round the Clock Breakfast Stout, 5.2%, 440ml can
I’m a sucker for oatmeal stout and this, with oats from Flahavan’s no less, is a temptation. Add in a dark coffee and it becomes irresistible. 

The brew is black of colour, intensely flavoured and, if Neven can serve Irish Whiskey in his porridge, then surely I can have this rich smooth (as any former taoiseach’s silky shirts), for breakfast.

Never too early, never too late for this Very Highly Recommended Round the Clock stout.

Lough Gill Wild Rosé Wheat Ale, 5%, 440ml can
This is from their Wild Atlantic Series, promising Big, Bold, Extreme Flavor (Note US spelling!). Expect wild sour and funky beers reflecting their location in these limited releases.

Not too sour at all is the initial impression from this “Golden Blush” coloured ale but it does grow on you. There is an undeniable tartness, quite a refreshing one, and also an excellent balance between the bitterness and sweetness. Doesn't say it in the ingredients but I thought I heard there was the odd hedgerow rose in the mix. Recommended.


Lough Gill Hoppy Scotch Ale, 9%, 440ml can
And, from the Irish Punch-up Series, comes this Scotch Ale, also known in Scotland as “Wee Heavy”. Lough Gill will fill this series with “even bolder flavours and higher ABVs (starting at 8%)”. Again it is a limited release.

It’s a dark ruby colour, aromas of malt and fruit, rich malt and caramel flavours, sweet and smooth, quite intense, yet little outward sign of the high alcohol which is well camouflaged. No big sign of the hops either. Did they mean Happy Scotch Ale? In any case, I'm quite happy with it. Highly Recommended.

Lough Gill Imperial Oatmeal Coffee Cream Stout, 11%, 440ml can

Another limited release, this from the Rebel Stout Series, the ones your mother didn't tell you about. As you probably expected, it is black (good guess!), coffee aromas with a ultra smooth palate featuring malts and coffee. Again, very well balanced. Hard hitting at 11% but it is a smooth customer, delivering a velvet punch. Very Highly Recommended.

Read all about our brewery visit here.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Swagman Rocks in Sligo

The Swagman Rocks in Sligo

It’s a busy Friday evening at The Swagman in Wine Street, Sligo, and owner Dale Barber is on duty, as always. There are Australia flags (Irish too!) and memorabilia around the walls and ceiling but Dale is cheering Ireland this evening as they take on Moldova in the World Cup. The Australian has been in the news in the town over the past few days having cooly helped stop the robbers of a nearby phone shop.

Ireland score and there's a large cheer. Dale tells me that goal will be cheered in small towns across Australia. It is important to the diaspora, something that we don't always recognise in this country. Dale is sometimes puzzled by the lack of enthusiasm for the national team when things aren't going well and amazed by the contrast when we qualify for a finals tournament.

The no frills pub is a bit like the straight talking Australian from Tangambalanga (Victoria) where his parents had a busy pub offering food and drink and accommodation. And indeed, many years and countries later,  advice from his visiting parents helped him decide on buying the Swagman. Wife Sinead, whom he had met on his travels, came up with the name and so, the Swagman was born at the start of the decade.
Soul in a Bowl. Tequila, Lime,  Garlic and Beef Stew 

The Swagman has over one hundred craft beers and we enjoyed an ale from local brewers, The White Hag, as the conversation turned to food and its provenance. Dale offers a simple but very good menu, well sourced and served on white plates!  It is all about fresh, local and fair here, the fair meaning that it is well priced. And, aside from the Kangaroo offering, a nod to his heritage, the source is local because that represents his values.

Dale is something of a gardener himself and indeed would love to do more on that front but that would take from his work at the pub. He speaks enthusiastically of picking your own in the tunnel and almost poetically when describing the fresh taste of home-grown tomatoes or indeed of any fruit or vegetable. And of course, much of the produce from home is used here in the Swagman where you can expect a daily special called “Soul in a Bowl”, a roast of the day, and pizza (making pizzas is another of his accomplishments!).

The two of us and Dale were keeping an eye on the match but as it approached half-time we had to leave. We had a dinner reservation nearby and would, as always, honour that. But it would have been good to stay and eat and watch the rest of the game in this pub with soul. Instead it was firm handshakes all round as we headed into the street.

While The Swagman has a rustic, maybe outback, feel, the newly opened Anderson’s on the banks of the dark Garavogue is a creature of the 21st century, inside at least. It is plush and colourful and lively with a cocktail menu on the counter. 

But some craft beer as well and that harks back to the origin of the building which once housed a brewery owned by the Anderson family and called Lough Gill. Their Anderson’s Red Ale was the biggest selling beer in Connaught in the 19th century and that original brewery closed early in the 20th.  The exterior has been retained.

Earlier, I had visited the new Lough Gill Brewery (just a few miles away) and was told the story. The new brewery (2016) started by making their take of the Anderson’s Red Ale and it is on sale around the town and also, right here in the revamped old building, there is a tap. I very much enjoyed that Ale here in Anderson’s, the purpose of my little pilgrimage.  


Before I headed off for another dinner, I also drank, for the first time, an offering from Dublin’s Five Lamps, a very enjoyable Liberties Pale Ale. Didn't see their Monto Red on the taps. Maybe, one bit of red is enough in Sligo town.


Other pubs with grub on the Sligo Food Trail include: Fiddlers Creek, Hargadon's, Harrison's, and the Strand Bar.
See also: Lough Gill Brewery
 Strandhill Food Festival
Sligo Cafés
Embassy Steakhouse
Rugantino

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lough Gill Brewery (and Meadery!). Focus on quality and consistency.

Lough Gill Brewery (and Meadery!)
Focus on quality and consistency.


It’s a Friday evening and I am sitting in a classy new bar, Anderson’s, on the banks of the Garavogue in Sligo, on an ale "pilgrimage".

Back in the 1800s, Anderson’s Ale was the most popular beer in Connacht and the family owned three breweries in the province, one of them housed in this very building. The story makes my pint of Anderson’s Ale all the tastier!

The new Anderson’s Ale is produced by a new family micro brewery, the Lough Gill. And, that morning, James Ward told me that they  (he and wife Valerie) went back to the region’s roots to brew a traditional Irish ale that is their interpretation of what was originally produced. “It opened the door for us.”
Anderson's, once a brewery, now a smart pub

While Lough Gill’s initial beer looked to the past, their production now looks to the future and James sees that future in cans and in America. Their beers are geared towards the US market and their eye-catching can labels are designed by a US artist. Indeed, their brewer Tony Wickham is a Lakota Sioux from Montana.

You get the drift once you sample their Mac Nutty, a nut brown ale (with toasted macadamia nuts), similar to Newcastle Brown Ale that you may have seen in a one pint bottle. Mac Nutty is one of their regular beers and exported to the US where Lough Gill is established in New York State and Massachusetts.

The water, and the name, come from nearby Lough Gill and that was also the name of the old brewery. It is not the first brewery for James and wife Valerie. Their initial venture, the White Hag, was the first brewery in Sligo for the best part of a century. After a couple of years, he sold it to its investor group and launched Lough Gill, with Anderson’s Ale, just last November.



Now they make quite an array of beers, lots of bold flavours and tastes here, including their Round the Clock stout; recommended for breakfast as it has Flahavan’s Oatmeal included!

They mill everything on site here. “We crack it open, it’s fresh. Our focus is on quality and consistency.” Irish malts are used for all their basic beers while specially malts are sourced in Belgium.

He took us through the process. By the way, this is a steam operated brewery, a better boil, better beer. After the usual mash tun, kettle, the more unusual whirlpool, the cooling, it goes into the tank and fresh yeast is added. “We use live yeast, makes for a better product. When we make our Imperial Coffee Oatmeal Stout, the yeast goes crazy. At 11%, this stout is the strongest in Ireland.”
In Lough Gill with James (left) and brewer Tony (right)

Their four core beers are: the Mac Nutty nut brown ale, the Round the Clock stout, the Heinoweiser IPA, and the Thieving Bastards Pale ale; some of the names are a finger up to the bigger brands. The stout and the brown ale are both exported. In addition, there is the Rebel Stout Series, the Irish Punch Up Series (which has started with a  barley wine), and the Irish Wild Atlantic series (sours).

“Sour is huge in the US. We have a sour wheat beer, a Wild Rosé Ale, an Imperial Peach Sour and a Cherry sour is coming soon.” And coming soon too will be their Mead.

Didn't know they had a Meadery here when I arrived but enjoyed a taste from the tank and can confirm that Tony’s Mead is a very different take indeed. James told me that it is the oldest drink in the world, “made by women and the drink of legends”. Tony has made mead in the states where it is quite popular. And James reckons that the far east, especially Japan and China, will prove likely markets.

Amazing energy and innovation here. Must be in that Lough Gill water. Maybe in some other local liquid. Best of luck to the team here as they take Sligo brewing on to the world stage.

* That same evening, Lough Gill was awarded Best New Sligo Business 2017. James: “We have yet to reach our 1st anniversary brew day and we are extremely delighted to receive this award at such an early stage in our business.” Great to get honoured in your home town.

See also: Strandhill Food Festival
Sligo Cafés
Clo's Chocolates
Rugatino of Sligo
Embassy Steakhouse
The Swagman Rocks