Showing posts with label Mescan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mescan. Show all posts

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Mescan’s Belgian Beers from Croagh Patrick. Strong. Caveat Emptor!

Mescan’s Belgian Beers from Croagh Patrick.
Strong. Caveat Emptor!


I’ve been enjoying the beers from Mayo’s Mescan Brewery for a while now and their Saison has emerged as my favourite. Met up with Cillian O’Moran, one half of the team, last week and he told me that it is also a favourite in the brewery.

A saison-al tip:  I just came across this quote from Garrett Oliver, author and brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery:....the Belgian farmhouse saison style tends to add sharper bitterness, often alongside peppery notes. These beers make great matches for tangy fresh goats cheeses, and can be a great way to start off a cheese and beer tasting.

It wasn't the best of times to visit the very small Mescan operation as Cillian and his Flemish partner Bart were busy preparing for their annual Octobertfest at Westport House and that was where we chatted in the Autumn sunshine. Bart is the guy with the engineering skills, a very handy asset in a small-scale operation. They have been buddies for 20 years, both vets.

They admit on their Facebook that it all began as a rebellion “against our day jobs as veterinarians..we were feeling depressed about all the on-call in our job and the lack of time to pursue our other interests. We talked about what else we would like to do with our lives and pretty soon the conversation got around to beer. We love beer, especially Belgian beer”. 


As you may have guessed, Mescan make Belgian style beers. “We only make beer that interests us,“ said Cillian, “Beers that we like and find interesting. So no IPA, no Irish Red Ale. It is against our philosophy to follow a popular trend.”

That doesn't mean they don’t make popular beers! Their Blond was the first they brought out and has become a firm favourite with the public.

They also make some strong beers. I had tasted two recently, the Extra and The Tripel. We had a little chat about the two and I said the Tripel was my favourite of the two. “Interesting,” said Cillian. 

I think he would have been more pleased had I picked the Extra. This was an effort to make a high alcohol beer without too much fruit and there were some differences in the production. They started it cool, kept it chilled and then allowed a slow rise in temperature before a rapid rise towards the end of the process. Worth getting a bottle of each to compare. Might do the same myself, again!

“Seasonal is not a huge thing for us but we did a Kreik last year and there are still a few bottles around.” No sour cherries this year but they have now found a new source and you could well see another Kreik next year.

But a new beer is on the cards for Christmas. “We have tested a small trial brew and both of us were extremely taken with it. If the 2,000 litre batch is as good, then it may well become a regular.”

“We’re almost like the Galagapos Island of craft brewing, operating in an enclave of our own. No time for net-working!” But that may change as Cillian is winding down his regular job as a vet to go full-time in the brewery.

“I intend to work full-time but we’ll have to increase sales to make that doable. The small scale suits us. We are not building empires. I don't want to spend days in the office, not cut out for it. Small and natural is our way and that's the way we like it.” And it looks as if their punters like it that way too.

Mescan Beers:
Westport Blond (5.5%);
Westport White (5.0%);
Westporter Stout (5.0%);
Westport Saison (6.2%);
Westport Red Tripel (8.5%);
Westport Extra (9.3%).

Mescan beers, delicious and distinctive, are all bottle conditioned, so not available on draught. Keep up to date with their Facebook page here.

And where did that Mescan name come from? It’s named after St Patrick’s right hand man and personal brewer. They say that Mescan’s brews facilitated audiences with the chieftains when Patrick went out on his conversion missions!

And one more thing about these beers, these mostly strong beers. The bottles carry a warning for lovers: “Our beer adds to the desire but may take away from the performance”. Caveat emptor. 



Monday, October 9, 2017

Five star grub in a roadside pub. The Tavern, Murrisk.

Five star grub in a roadside pub
The Tavern, Murrisk.
Amazing game pie

It had been a sunny day in Mayo but an autumnal cold had settled in by the time we arrived at The Tavern in Murrisk for evening dinner. We had been looking forward to the special menu, matching local foods with the fabulous Mescan Belgian style beers from a working farm on the nearby slopes of Croagh Patrick. We would not be disappointed. Far from it!

After a chat with host Pat Kelly, we began to study the menu. The Warm Silverhill Duck and Smoked Bacon Salad looked tempting as did their Award Winning Atlantic Seafood Chowder. But we each went for the Tavern Wild Atlantic Way Tasting Board.

This consisted of Cleggan scallops with Kelly’s Gluten free black pudding, bacon dust, rosette of Connemara Smoked Salmon, with Velvet Cloud Yogurt and home pickles, Galway Farm Goats cheese bon bons and homemade quince jelly. You couldn't get much more local than that and you'd travel a long way to get something better. Five star grub in a roadside pub. All washed down with the recommended Mescan beers, the Blonde and the White. A match made in Westport.
Starter

On then to the main event. The menu offered Fillet of Angus Steak, an offer hard to resist but resist we did on this occasion. CL went for the Trio of West Coast Pan Fried Seafood: Clare Island salmon, parma ham wrapped monkfish, fresh hake with lemon and dill butter, chive mash and mixed leaf salad. 

That piece of salmon alone would have made someone a fine dinner as would the monkfish. Quantity but more importantly quality. And the small things were well taken care also. The dressing with the salad was one of the very best we’ve come across. And to cap it all, the Mescan Saison was a perfect match.
Trio of fish

I had been looking forward to the Game Pie since I first saw the list. The mega mix included rabbit, pheasant and venison with a horseradish and cheddar mash and the pie was surrounded by a tonne of roasted root vegetables. And then there was a bottle of Westporter Stout to help it down. A memorable meal.

We should have had stopped then! But, easily persuaded, we shared a selection of desserts, with the Mescan Kriek: Sticky Toffee Pudding, the Tavern’s Homemade Brown Bread and Bailey's Ice-cream and, the star of the trio, Pauline’s Fruit Crumble with Irish Mist Anglaise. Before that, we had enjoyed a wee chat with busy Head Chef Pauline McGovern
Dessert

Quite a meal then, one that necessitated a walk in the cool, calm evening air before we called the taxi to return us to Westport and the lovely Clew Bay Hotel. And, by the way, if you in the Westport area and looking for a reliable friendly taxi-driver then try Conor at 087-2413722.

The Tavern Bar & Restaurant
Carrowkeeran, Westport, Co. Mayo.
Tel: 098 64060
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thetavernmurrisk/   
Twitter: @TavernMurrisk 


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Taste of the Week. Mescan Westport Saison

Taste of the Week
Mescan Westport Saison

This is a Belgian style beer, brewed near Westport, and is our Taste of the Week. It is the kind of beer that, once it hits the palate, makes you take notice. You may also want to note that it has an ABV of 6.2%.

I came across it in Westport a few months back and so I didn't hesitate to buy it and three companions, including a lovely white, when I saw them in Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork, the other day. They are not the cheapest, this 330ml bottle for instance, is priced at €3.95. 

The Westport Saison is a great one to cut the thirst, is more fizzy, with clove and citrus notes. Very well balanced too and you don't really notice the high alcohol. But do sip rather than gulp!

Saison beer is a Belgian style brewed, in the good old days, for seasonal workers. Reckon I'd appreciate one (or two) after a hard day’s labour or even after an idle day.

Mescan, by the way, was St Patrick’s brewer and no doubt the odd conversion was facilitated by a jug of his brew. The bottle conditioned beer is still cloudy! 


Their Westport white is superb. And I also have their Red Tripel and Westport Extra to try.

Monday, May 8, 2017

48 Hours in Westport. Sightseeing. Eating. Drinking.

48 Hours in Westport. 
Sightseeing. Eating. Drinking.
Keel Bay
Taking the long way round is a regular habit when I'm on the road and so, to get to Westport from Cork, I head to the Galway village of Leenane, at the inland point of Killary Harbour, as I want to drive from there to Louisburgh by the spectacular Doolough route.

Leenane
By the time we reached Leenane or Leenaune (you will see quite a lot of spelling variations of place-names in both Galway and Mayo), we were feeling peckish. The well-known Blackberry was still closed (at 12.15pm) so, after a stroll, we dropped into the nearby Sheep & Wool Centre for a bite. 
And we got a right good one.  They had a Soup and Sandwich offer. For €7.75 we each got a big bowl of soup and a sandwich. And not just your usual veg soup but a Tomato and Roasted Pepper (there was a choice of at least two soups). Great choices (12) also of sandwich fillings and dressings (7). 

For instance, I had tuna with salad and pesto on brown bread while Clare had chicken, roasted peppers, red onion marmalade. So they are not dishing out the same old same old. We thought the quality was very good as was the price.
Aasleagh
We noticed the Blackberry was open and busy as we walked back to the car, Minutes later, we passed the Carraig Bar, the last pub out of Connemara and then, all of a sudden, we saw the Aasleagh Falls in off the road. Walked in for a view and then drove on.
Doolough Famine Memorial

The beautiful Doolough area was, in 1849, the scene of one of the darkest events of the Famine. On a bitterly cold day, some 600 people in Louisburgh were seeking food or a ticket to the workhouse in Westport. They were told to contact the Poor Law officials who were, for some reason, in Delphi, about ten miles away. Some died overnight and the rest struggled over hills and mountains (no road then). The officials rose from their lunch and told the people they could do nothing for them and ordered them back to Louisburgh. No one knows how many died by the wayside.

Still incredibly sad, after all those years.

The Reek
 It is of course a short journey by car and soon we were passing through Louisburgh and on our way to Croagh Patrick. We had no intention of going to the top but did get about a third of the way up. It is rough enough with lots of big rocks and smaller loose stones but the views out over Clew Bay are magnificent, even on a cloudy day.

We stayed in the excellent Westport Plaza Hotel that night and enjoyed a lovely meal in their Merlot, a destination restaurant. Visited the bar afterwards. Didn't see any craft beer on tap. But they did have a fridge full of Mescan beer, 330ml bottles of local excellence!
 Mescan, by the way, was St Patrick’s brewer and no doubt the odd conversion was facilitated by a jug of his brew. The beer is still cloudy! Their Westport Blonde (5.5%) is superb.

But it was their Westport Saison (6.2%), more cutting, more fizzy, with clove and citrus notes, that I really enjoyed. Saison beer is a Belgian style brewed for seasonal workers. Reckon I'd appreciate one (or two) after a hard day’s labour or even after an idle day.
Westport House

 Day two was mostly an Achill Island affair. The sun came out and the lure of the Atlantic beauty was irresistible. We did the main drive, all the way through to Keem Bay. There were detours, of course. We took the loop to the south on the way out, the one to the north on the way back.


There were many stops to admire the stunning views over the cliffs and the seas, though the first stop was at the Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley castle, near to the lifeboat station.
The Pirate Queen's castle in Achill
For lunch, we dropped into the lovely Craft and Coffee shop called the Beehive in Keel. The food was excellent and very well priced (as it had been in Leenane). For just less than twenty euro, we each had a Chicken Bap (with a lovely salad) and tea, all served on beautiful ware by Shannon Bridge Pottery (Offaly).


Just made it back to Westport House about an hour before closing. The house, by the way, now has new local owners who have promised investment and improvements. We had a quick enough look-around upstairs and downstairs. Even visited the dungeon though spent more time in the extensive wine-cellar (now unfortunately empty, aside from a few old wooden markers).

Achill, above and below

We wouldn't be short of wine though when we visited the excellent Black Truffle Bistro in the town centre for a smashing dinner, a dinner that included one of the best fish dishes I’ve ever eaten.

Time then for another taste of the local brews and we headed up to the lively McGings. I passed the night - we had music by DramaCode later - with Clifford's Connacht Champion, or 3C for short, a refreshing golden ale (4%), one of the beers from the Clew Bay Brewery. 


Westport House, in the wine cellar
CL settled on a very nice and refreshing Achill beer, made using water from a local corrie lough and Carrigeen moss. 


Each beer came in its own proper glass; McGings don't do things by halves. Staff there are brilliant, very helpful if you are not acquainted with the beers (they include Franciscan Well Chieftain Pale Ale in their selection). The perfect end to another good day in Mayo.