Showing posts with label beer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label beer. Show all posts

Monday, February 27, 2017

5 Gluten Free Beers from 9 White Deer

5 Gluten Free Beers from 9 White Deer

Good news this week as Ballyvourney craft-brewers 9 White Deer launch Europe’s first full range of Gluten Free-Beer. The Stag Saor range features a Red Ale, a Pale Ale, an IPA, a Kölsch and a Stout.

So what’s a Kölsch? This is the beer of Cologne in Germany; Kölsch means “local to Cologne” (according to Beer FAQ) and the name is protected and that is why the Ballyvourney beer is labelled Kölsch style. Like its German inspiration, this Stag Saor light beer is cold lagered. With its gentle hops and malt character, it is easy-drinking, full flavoured with fruity hints and a crisp and lager style character.

I loved the Red Ale for its depth of flavour and texture and, with its likeness (in flavour) to stout. Good too with food. 

Like the others, their Pale Ale is vegan free and brewed with “love”. Easy to love too with its light body, aromas and moderate hop flavours. Lots of new age hops in the IPA. Hop usage is late in the boil so giving big flavours and aromas without major bitterness. Well balanced and quaffable.

The Saor Stout though is perhaps my favourite of the five. This is described as a double chocolate and Madagascan vanilla stout, rich and luxurious. You must try this chocolate “block” from the West Cork Gaeltacht; it is distinctive and delicious.

Don O'Leary
For a chance to meet the founders and sample the new Stag Saor gluten-free range, drop in to O’Brien’s Off Licence, Beacon South Quarter, Dublin on Thursday 2nd March between 12 noon and 8pm or Matson’s, Cooney's Lane, Grange, Douglas Co. Cork on Friday 3rd March between 12 noon and 8pm.

9 White Deer was founded in 2014 by former marine engineer, Gordon Lucey, and respected publican Don O’Leary (who runs the famous Mills Inn pub). The brewery initially offered a core range of four beers. Within the company’s first year, Don was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, which essentially determined the direction for the business.


Don O’Leary recalls: “At first the timing seemed terrible, we had just opened a craft brewery and I identified as gluten intolerant! However, the development of Stag Saor has changed everything for the business.  It prompted us to research the market and see how limited the beer offering is for those with gluten intolerance. There have been a very small number of gluten-free lagers and pale ales developed in Ireland over the last two years but, with options still very limited, we identified an opportunity to create a full range of gluten-free beers, which also taste really good,”.
  
Co-founder Gordon Lucey began brewing at home in 1999 and has since become a qualified brewer.  He said, “We are determined to lead the way in breaking new ground for brewing in Ireland. It was critical to us that our gluten-free range, not only met the gluten-free requirements but also tasted great. Each batch of the Stag Saor range is independently tested and certified to maintain its excellence and to ensure that it complies with EU regulations of less than 20ppm of gluten. We regularly get the certificates back with less than 5ppm.”
 
Brewer Gordon
9 White Deer launched its first gluten-free product, Saor, in 2015. It received a bronze medal in the 2016 Blas na hEireann awards following a blind taste testing where the judges did not know it was a gluten-free product.

Stag Saor is available nationwide from Classic Drinks and also in Dublin from CBG Wholesale. For a full list of stockists visit www.9whitedeer.ie.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Brewmaster muses on Beer and Cheese

Brewmaster on Real Beer and Real Food
Garrett Oliver in Oxford Companion to Cheese
Garrett Oliver

“You need real tomatoes to make tomato sauce.” 

Garrett Oliver started a Ballymaloe LitFest talk and beer tasting, with this line. Soon, he would delve into bread and cheese, including fake bread and fake cheese. 

Garrett played a key role as the brewing/culinary pairing concept reached a critical turning point in 2003, according to the newly published Beer FAQ by Jeff Cioletti. That was the year that Garrett's book, The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food, saw its first publication. He was also the editor of the Oxford Companion to Beer.

So it no surprise to see the dapper brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery listed as one of the 325 contributors to the just published Oxford Companion on Cheese.

Yes, you read correctly. Three hundred and twenty five contributors! A few Irish among them, including Darina Allen (right) and Gianna Ferguson, Timothy P. Guinee (Teagasc), Alan Kelly (UCC), P.L.H McSweeney (UCC) and Colin Sage (UCC). 

But Oliver, tasked with pairing beer with cheese, is in his comfort zone. And, as in Ballymaloe, he first refers to the 20th century industrialisation of food and beverages “into nearly unrecognisable facsimiles of themselves” before craft began to restore “variety, subletly and life”.
Gianna and Fingal
Ferguson of Gubbeen
And so, in speaking of pairing, Garrett is talking craft and artisan. And he outlines the reasons why beer and cheese go so well together and, as always, he doesn't fail to boot wine down the list as a contender! In Ballymaloe, he said champagne comes in a beer bottle, not the other way round!

In quite a hefty contribution, he goes through all the types of beer, from light ales to Imperial Stouts. You’ll have to get the book to see all the possibilities but let's have a look in the middle of the list under the heading Wheat Beers and Saisons.

“Wheat beers..are slightly acidic, fruity, spritzy, and refreshing as well as low in bitterness. In contrast, 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.”
Brewer's Gold from Ireland's Little Milk Co.
I presume some of you will remember the processed cheeses of our childhood, packaged in single serve portions, often foil-wrapped triangles. Names such as Calvita (the word apparently a mix of calcium and vitamin), Galtee, Whitethorn, come to mind. Well, the book reveals that the first such cheese (1921) was the French Laughing Cow.
In the Basque country - Brebis with black cherry jam.
At home in Ireland, I use loganberry jam.

This book is huge and is very inclusive indeed with no less than 855 entries and claims to be the most comprehensive reference work on cheese available. It is well written, well edited and both the expert and professional will find something of value. But it is not the type of book I’d read from start to finish.

It is one to dip into and that is what I’m doing here, just to give you a flavour. So if you want to look up kashkaval, you’ll find it is a hard cheese from the Balkans. Preveli is a semi-hard Croatian cheese.
Coolea
Want to get technical? Did you know that “stewing” is part of the process? That “stretching” refers to the traditional method of making Mozzarella? That “green cheese” refers not to a cheese that is green in colour but rather to a new, young, as-of-yet unaged, or underripe? That the holes in Gouda or Edam are not called holes but “eyes”?

And it is not just technical. There are many practical entries. Perhaps one that we could all read is under Home Cheese Care. Here you’ll read that the fridge may be bad for your cheese as it can be too cold for some aged styles.

And there are quite a few entries on the history of cheese around the world, including the Americas. Indeed, the book is published in the US. Was it Irish monks that first brought cheesemaking skills to St Gallen in Switzerland? Nowadays, in a possible reverse, you can get a lovely St Gall from the Fermoy Natural Cheese Company.

And how come it is only over the past forty years or so that Irish cheese is on the rise, Irish artisan cheese that is. In the Ireland entry, you read that by the 17th century, many distinctive aspects of Irish life and culture, including the Gaelic Farm economy and the native cheesemaking tradition, had been killed off by decades of oppressive English law. It took us an overly long time to recover!
Mobile Milking in Swiss mountains

Cashel Blue, as far as I can see, is the one Irish cheese to get an entry to itself. Cheeses, most of them famous, from all over the world are highlighted, including from places such as Turkey and Iran. 

Hundreds of cheeses then but here are just a few of the better known ones that you may read about: Camembert, Chabichou, Cheshire, Gorgonzola, Gouda, Gruyere, Jack, Livarot, Mont d’Or, Ossau-iraty, Parmigiana Reggiani, Pecorino, Raclette, Reblochon, Stilton, Tomme, and Wensleydale.

And, by the way, Garret Oliver didn't get the matching field to himself! There is also an entry on wine pairing by Tara Q. Thomas!

The Oxford Companion to Cheese (December 2016), is edited by Catherine Donnelly, published by the Oxford University Press. Price: £40.00.

* The book also lists cheese museums around the world. None in Ireland, yet!


See also:

Veronica Steele. Pioneer in Irish cheese. Focus too on County Cork





Monday, December 5, 2016

Beer FAQ. All that’s left to know about beer.

Beer FAQ
All that’s left to know about beer.
Brewer Cormac hard at it in Dungarvan Brewery
Beer FAQ, by Jeff Cioletti, packs a lot into its 400 pages. It claims to be a no-nonsense guide to the world of beer, answering many burning questions about the diverse array of styles, ingredients, and international brewing and drinking and the traditions that drive the world’s most celebrated beverage.

And it certainly does that. Just be aware that this is an American publication so you’ll see the odd geographical faux pas, like placing the University of Sunderland in Scotland. Generally though the contribution of the old world, especially England, Belgium, Germany (he suggests that Munich is not the “beeriest city” in Germany, giving that accolade to Bamberg) and the old Czechoslovakia is handsomely acknowledged before the big statement (pretty well backed up) in which the origin of the latest wave of craft brewing is claimed for the USA.
Beer selection at recent festival in Cork's Franciscan Well

And since the US is our next parish, we do have an interest there as residents, relations, visitors, drinkers and importers. Many of the US beers - Sierra Nevada and Brooklyn Brewery - have long been favourites here.

In a chapter titled The Birth of Beer, Jeff says that beer, “for both the Romans and the Greeks, was the beverage of barbarians”. Long after the fall of the wine-drinking Roman Empire, beer “was considered an underclass drink”.

Later on, the monasteries took a hand and started to brew beer, “a central form of sustenance when you couldn't trust the water”.  Later, science and the industrial revolution would play major roles in spreading beer globally.

He delves into the history and the different types of hops, concentrating on a few including Cascade, Hallertau, Simcoe and Sorachi Ace. You can learn too about malt and yeast. And the various styles of beer.

Beer in the New World is covered in great detail, even recalling some old advertisements, many of them openly sexist. Remember “Mabel. Black Label” and the subservient doting wife. Some detailed insight too into the renaissance of American beer that was led by the craft revolution. In 1873, the number of US breweries reached 4,131. In 1941, it was down to just 857 and stayed around that mark until 1995. Now there are close to five thousand!


The breweries that were prominent in the rise of craft are detailed. Anchor Beer, Boston Brewing and Brooklyn are included. By the way, did you know that Brooklyn have partnered Carlsberg in two breweries, one in Sweden, one in Norway.

And Jeff poses the question: “but what exactly defines ‘craft beer’? That answer is a little complicated”. He gives it a few pages, pointing out that micro-breweries, by their very nature start out small and some then get large. Can a large brewery be a craft brewery? 

The author looks to his colleague John Holl who has written an editorial in the March edition of the All about Beer magazine with the title: “Craft Beer is Dead. Long Live Craft Beer!” Holl went on to write that the simple five letter word “has caused so much ‘confusion, blind passion, and confrontation’”.
Black's of Kinsale, one of the first Irish craft brewers to can.

“Most people silently agree with me,” Holl reveals. “It’s a word that’s been fraught with all kinds of baggage. It’ll continue to change. Most brewers simply are thinking of making beer of exceptional taste and quality.” 

Cioletti claims that beer is a better match with cheese than wine. “..cheese’s fat content coats the palate and beer’s carbonation scrubs the palate clean, preparing it for the next course.” In fairness he also acknowledges that sparkling wines can do the same.
Garrett Oliver at Ballymaloe LitFest

Pizza, pasta, burgers and Barbecue have been the traditional invitation to open the beer. But go that bit further, Cioletti suggests. Try a delicate beer, a Belgian wit for instance, with sushi.

And then he moves on to fish in general, including crustaceans - “stouts are a winning match with oysters”, “spicier options with crab”. Porters and stouts are “quite comfortable” with stews. “..now, if we’re talking..beef Carbonnade, which usually has a wine base, consider something on the sour side..” If you’re on a wild game stew, “the strong flavours should harmonize with something on the wilder side: perhaps a saison with brett.”
Peter Curtin in his tiny brewery over the Roadside Tavern in Clare

There are chapters on pubs in the US and around the world (just one in Ireland, Dublin’s Against the Grain, gets a mention), on beer in films and TV (think Jaws, Cheers), on containers including cans (started in 1935!), on beer cocktails, and a nod (a small one) to Kindred Spirits eg cider, mead and spirits.

Quite a tome if not quite the encyclopaedia, packed with info and insights from leading figures over the decades, something here both for the beer beginner and the expert. 
Jack Lynch in Cork's Cotton Ball brewery, under the pub of the same name

Beer FAQ is “the ultimate primer for getting better acquainted with the world’s favorite adult beverage” and is published by Backbeat Books. Available at Amazon for £17.95.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Christmas Prezzies, from three euro to 3.5k euro!

Christmas Prezzies
from three euro to 3.5k euro!
First aid from Wines Direct!

Wine App.
Want to know a little bit more about wine? In a hurry? Then download Grape Personalities - a guide to grape varietals and the wines they make. The APP retails for €3.99 in both iOS and Android and is available at http://grape-personalities.appstor.io

Christmas Day Survival Kit 
Wines Direct make Christmas Day easier for you with their Survival Kit. Along with two classic French whites and two classic French reds, you’ll get a bottle of sparkling wine (Cremant de Loire by Alain Marcadet) and, for afterwards, a bottle of Port (Quinta do Crasto LBV 2011). It is available online at Wines Direct and the six bottles will cost you €115.00 (over 30 euro off and free delivery).


Eight Degrees Festival Beers
You can never mention wine within 25 miles of Mitchelstown without Caroline Hennessy shouting beer! She tells me Eight Degrees have some very special ones to offer. “The Three Dukes of Burgundy is our 2016 Barrel Aged Project. From that series, The Fearless Farmhouse Ale and The Bold Imperial Stout were just released last week. In January, we will be releasing The Good Barleywine.” 

All of these limited edition beers are bottled into 750ml amber champagne-style bottles and are available either individually or in 2 x 750ml bottle gift packs (RRP €19.95). 

Fearless Farmhouse Ale is your perfect Christmas table beer. It won’t shout too loudly over the turkey, will happily hang out with ham and doesn’t balk in the face of any cranberry relish-type shenanigans.
RRP €7.95

Save The Bold Imperial Stout for the end of a meal and pair it with something sweet like Christmas pudding, a rich cranberry cheesecake or some quality vanilla ice cream. RRP €10.95

The Whiskeys of Ireland

Want to read up on your whiskey? Then get Peter Mulryan’s Whiskeys of IrelandThe very experienced Peter (the man behind the Blackwater Distillery in Waterford) knows his whiskey as well as his gin and the book charts the history and the current state of Irish whiskey. A very intertesting read indeed. The Whiskeys of Ireland is published by the O’Brien Press and is widely available. I spotted it in Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork  selling for €19.95.

Teeling’s Top Drops
While you’re reading, why not sip from either The Teeling 24 or 33 Year Old Single Malt, available  initially in the Teeling Whiskey Distillery, Celtic Whiskey Shop and Dublin Airport in Ireland and retailing for €300 per 70cl for the 24 Year Old and €3,500 per 70cl for the 33 Year Old. 

Too expensive? Well you can get a perfectly good bottle of Jameson for thirty euro or less! Another favourite around here at the moment is Writer’s Tears, also in Bradley’s at €45.99.

Tipperary Crystal

Have you a wine lover in your life? But don’t know which wine to buy for him or her. Why not make a present of some suitable glasses instead. Tipperary Crystal have just produced a new range for white and red wine, for bubbles, and also for whiskey and brandy. Prices are mainly twenty euro for a gift box containing a pair of the glasses. All the details here.  

The Oxford Companion to Cheese
Wine and cheese go together of course and so too do beer and cheese. You can get all the best pairings and so much more in this massive just published (December 1st) book on cheese. Lots of Irish interest too with Cashel Blue, County Cork and pioneer cheesemaker Veronica Steele covered in this landmark encyclopaedia, the most wide-ranging, comprehensive, and reliable reference work on cheese available, suitable for both novices and industry insiders alike. See more here.  Published by the Oxford University Press, the impressive volume costs forty pounds sterling.


Bertha’s Revenge Gin

The producers are so happy with the complexity and smoothness of this milk based gin that they really enjoy sipping it with a “splash of water”. But they add “she works very well with a good quality tonic”. And she performs well also in a martini. Bertha, shaken with ice and a suggestion of vermouth, poured into a chilled glass with a simple zest garnish delivers “a gloriously smooth and precise cocktail experience”. Try it for yourself - stockists here - about 50 euro per bottle.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Taste of the Week. Torc's Raspberry & Vanilla Sour

Taste of the Week
Torc Brewing Raspberry & Vanilla Sour, 4%, Bradley’s of North Main Street exclusive.

What is a sour beer? Don’t want to overcomplicate this and put you off. Think of a very dry cider or that gripping Basque wine Txakoli and you won't be a million miles away. Just be aware that in sours, as in ales and lagers, you’ll have quite a range. So you’ll have to try for yourself and this is a good one to start with.

I couldn't find an entry for sour in Slainte (The complete guide to Irish craft beer and cider).Perhaps they weren't any Irish sours when the book was published two years ago. Now there are quite a few. Yellow Belly and Eight Degrees had examples at the recent beer fest in the Cork City Hall. Perhaps the most high profile recent example for me was the Rodenbach at the Franciscan Well October Beer fest. By the way, people looking for cider at the festival, were offered this and there was a great reaction to it.

And this limited edition Torc is the newest Irish on the sour scene. While waiting for the revised edition of Slainte, I checked Wikipedia. Sour beer, they say, is beer which has an intentionally acidic, tart, or sour taste. The most common styles are Belgian lambics, gueuze and Flanders Red Ale, gose too.

This sour, by Killarney based Torc, is a collaboration with Bradley’s and is brewed with fresh raspberries and vanilla pods. The fruit, of course, is there to give a balance plus flavour.


The beer is tart, no doubt, yet not that mouth-puckering tart. It is refreshingly fruity, yet not overly so. I must admit I was well into the conversation with this well balanced cloudy beer before coming round to the idea that we could be friends! Well worth a try for yourself.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Time to Check the Wine & Drinks Events at #Litfest16

Wine & Drinks Events in the Drinks Theatre at #Litfest16
at the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food & Wine   
Saturday 21st May and Sunday 22nd May 2016
Jancis is sold out!


Saturday 21st May 2016 wine & drinks events, Drinks Theatre at Litfest16

Irish Craft Cider
Saturday 21st May, 9.30am – 10.30am, Drinks Theatre, talk and tasting €16
Panel talk & Irish Craft Cider tasting with the producers and drinks writers including Pete Brown, co-author of ‘The World’s Best Ciders’ http://litfest.ie/events/irish-craft-cider-0

Hugh Johnson in conversation with John Wilson
Saturday 21st May, 11.30am – 12.30pm, Drinks Theatre €25
Hugh Johnson OBE, the world’s most successful wine author, and a recipient of the French National Order of Merit, has written a series of landmark books on wine during the past five decades. His annual Pocket Wine Book has sold more than 12 million copies in a dozen languages since its first edition in 1977. http://litfest.ie/events/hugh-johnson-conversation-john-wilson

‘Monastrell, Mourvèdre and Mataro – three grapes in one’
Saturday 21st May, 1.00pm – 2.00pm, Drinks Theatre, talk & tasting €16
Join the Irish Examiner wine writer, Leslie Williams as he explores this overlooked and intriguing grape variety with a wine tasting by way of illustration with a selection from Spain, France and Australia. http://litfest.ie/events/monastrell-mourv%C3%A8dre-and-mataro-three-grapes-one


The World’s Under-priced Wines with Jancis Robinson MW
Saturday 21st May, 3.00pm – 4.00pm, Drinks Theatre, talk & tasting (sold out)
Described by Decanter magazine as 'the most respected wine critic and journalist in the world', Jancis Robinson MW is editor of The Oxford Companion to Wine, wine columnist with The Financial Times and has written and co-authored many books including The World Atlas of Wine and Wine Grapes, each of these books recognised as a standard reference worldwide.  http://litfest.ie/events/worlds-under-priced-wines-jancis-robinson-mw

Irish Whiskey and The Role of Wood
Saturday 21st May, 5.00pm – 6.00pm, Drinks Theatre, talk & tasting €16
With Kevin O’Gorman, Master of Maturation, Midleton Distillery, and drinks writer Dave Broom, author of more than a dozen books, including The World Atlas of Whiskey, and recipient of Drinks Writer of the Year, and IWSC Communicator of the Year

Cooperage with Master Cooper Ger Buckley
Saturday 21st May 6.00pm – 7.30pm, talk & cooperage demo €16 (free ticketed event)
Midleton Distillery Master Cooper Ger Buckley learned his trade directly from his father. His family have been making barrels for over 200 years and Ger himself is a 5th generation cooper, an ancient craft and skill, dating back thousands of years

"Tales of Ales"
Saturday 21st May, 8.30pm – 9.30pm, Drinks Theatre, Theatre & tasting €16
This is an enlightening tasting event fusing history, storytelling and craft beer tasting with Beer Sommelier and writer Judith Boyle and her sister, writer, performer & drinks consultant, Susan Boyle, both of Two Sisters Brewing. http://litfest.ie/events/tales-ales

Sunday 22nd May events in the Drinks Theatre at Litfest16


Fermented Drinks
Kefir, Kombucha, and Kraut shots…
Sunday 22nd May, 9.30am – 10.30am, Drinks Theatre, talk & tasting (free ticketed event)
Fermented Drinks' panel talk & tasting of fermented non-alcoholic drinks including Kefir and Kombucha with John Wilson, wine & drinks writer, The Irish Times and Virginia O'Gara of My Goodness

“Hops and Glory” – IPA Craft Beer with Pete Brown and Caroline Hennessy
Sunday 22nd May 11.30am – 12.30pm, Drinks Theatre, talk & tasting €16
Pete Brown, member of the British Guild of Beer Writers, and Beer Writer of the Year, will be talking and tasting IPA Craft Beer in Hops & Glory with Caroline Hennessy co-author of Sláinte, the book on Irish craft beer. http://litfest.ie/events/hops-glory

‘Islands in the Sun’ – Unique wines from Europe’s ancient island vineyards
with John Wilson, Irish Times wine & drinks writer
Sunday 22nd May 1.00pm – 2.00pm, Drinks Theatre, talk & tasting €16
There is a fantastic history of wine making on many of the various islands in the Mediterranean going back to ancient times, from Italy, Greece, France, Spain, Croatia and elsewhere, including the Canaries and Madeira with some amazing stories behind them. This wine talk & tasting will also look at the various ancient traditions of viticulture and vinification on these islands, many of which are now attracting renewed interest. http://litfest.ie/events/islands-sun

Gin with Dave Broom, Peter Mulryan and Nick Strangeway
Sunday 22nd May, 2.30pm – 3.30pm, Drinks Theatre, talk and tasting €16
Dave Broom, prolific spirits writer, is also author of the recently published Gin – the Manual, will be joined by author and Irish craft gin distiller Peter Mulryan of Blackwater Gin and international drinks guru Nick Strangeway http://litfest.ie/events/gin-0

Cocktails, with ingredients foraged from the Big Shed with Nick Strangeway and Oisin Davis
Sunday 22nd May, 4.30pm – 5.50pm, Drinks Theatre, demo & tasting €16
One of Ireland’s best-known names in the world of cocktails, Oisín Davis, together with Nick Strangeway, World Mixologist of the Year will present a cocktail demo and tasting with ingredients ‘foraged’ from the Big Shed. http://litfest.ie/events/cocktails-ingredients-foraged-big-shed


Please see the Litfest brochure for box office details and online at www.litfest.ie

or contact Colm@ballymaloe.ie for any additional information on the Litfest Drinks Theatre wine & drinks events .

Thanks to Colm McCan for the update.