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

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

More from the dark side.


More from the dark side

It may be summertime, with a vengeance, but here are a few beers that you can enjoy anytime, even if they are on the dark side.

White Gypsy Dark Lady, 5.2%, 500ml bottle


“Follow the Hops” say Kinnegar on their bottle (below) while Tipperary’s White Gypsy says “Follow your Fortune”. You won't go far wrong if you follow White Gypsy and this particular lady, a brew that contains Bohemian and Munich malts, roasted barley, Saaz hops, and Czech yeast.

A dark brown colour conceals this European lady who turns out to be a lager; as the bottle says “don't be afraid of the dark”. The Dark Lady also turns out to be well-made, well mannered. Nothing sinister here, just an interesting beer from Templemore, not for the first time. The notes from the roasted barley are a prominent feature though, in fairness, it has an excellent rounded flavour all the way through to a very satisfying finish.




Kinnegar Black Bucket “Black Rye IPA”, 6.5%, 440ml can

Don’t think I've ever met anyone from Kinnegar Brewing but I do get on very well with their products, right since I first tasted them in The Cove Restaurant in Port na Blagh in June 2013. Enjoyed three that evening: the Limeburner Pale Ale, the Scraggy Bay India Pale Ale and the Devil’s Backbone Amber Ale.

And now this one is added to my favourites. They call it “the bigger darker brother” to their popular Rustbucket Rye. It balances rye and roasted malts with fresh hop aromas and flavours and is unfiltered. 

This special beer comes in a long black robe but no disguising this is an IPA and one out to make a name for itself. Hop aromas and flavours, along with coffee notes, combine to make this an outstanding drop.



West Kerry brewery “Carraig Dubh” Porter, 6%, 500ml bottle
This is the real black, that of traditional porter, and the ingredients are malted barley, hops, yeast, and water from their own well. It has a lacy head that doesn’t linger, persistent aromas of toffee and caramel. Flavours follow through in this smooth porter and then there’s a lip smacking finish.

So black is back but was it ever away? Not for those of us who saved the hay or gathered to help at a threshing, a heavy glass bottle of porter in your hand at the end of a hard day.

It also reminds me of going into Kelly’s in Belderrig (on the north coast of Mayo) and the lady behind the counter grabbing a chipped enamel jug and ducking down and coming up with it full before pouring my black pint. No head, of course.

Fancy another from the dark side? Check out West Cork Brewery's Roaring Ruby Red Ale, yesterday's Taste of the Week.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Taste of the Week. Roaring Ruby Red Ale


Taste of the Week
Roaring Ruby Red Ale

I was eating out recently in Timoleague's Monk’s Lane where Gavin and Michelle have, since they started out a few years back, been strong supporters of local craft brewers. They have a very long list of beers, both in draught and in bottle.

I spotted the Roaring Ruby Red Ale by the West Cork Brewery from Baltimore in draught and noted the “dangerously drinkable” in the blurb.

I can vouch for that having sipped my way through a smooth pint of its delicious caramel and toffee flavours, a superb red ale almost crossing into stout territory. And our Taste of the Week is great with food.

The West Cork Brewery is based at Casey’s of Baltimore, Ireland’s first Brew-Hotel, and was launched in December 2014 by Dominic Casey, Henry Thornhill and brewer Kevin Waugh. They also produce the Sherkin Lass Ale and Stout x Southwest. Wouldn’t mind being down there now in that sun trap beer garden, sipping a pint of Roaring Ruby and the boats coming and going on the blue waters.

Check out three other top Irish beers all on the darker side here

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Larkin's Brewery of Wicklow. A Family That Brews Together.


Larkin's Brewery of Wicklow.
A Family That Brews Together.
Unusually, for a craft brewery, the main focus in Larkin’s County Wicklow Brewery is on lager. Maybe it is a Wicklow thing as Mont, known for their lager, are also based here.

Just a few years ago, the Larkin family beer enterprise was confined to the domestic kitchen. Decision to “go” in 2015 was backed by the whole family and a year later equipment was ordered. Great feedback at the 2017 Irish Craft Beer Festival saw the Larkins schedule a full launch early this year and now, with a trio of lagers front and centre, they have arrived.


Larkin’s Pale Ale 4.5%, 440ml can €3.75 Bradley’s Cork

Essentially this is a pretty serious Pale Ale, refreshing, with low to moderate bitterness. Colour is a mid-gold (hazy), white head is long-lasting. Might be of moderate bitterness but the twice used Lemondrop and Cascade hops make their presence felt as this well-made beer heads to a dry finish.

Larkin’s Märzen Lager 5.7%, 500ml bottle €3.50 Bradley’s

The Märzen style originated in Bavaria. It was brewed in March (hence the name) and served during the Octoberfest. “Dark brown, full bodied and bitter” is the description of the original.

Larkin’s is pretty close to that: malty, good flavour and a clean finish. Colour may not be quite a dark brown, closer to amber. The off-white head, thin to begin with, lasts longer than expected but that’s a minor detail. This is a highly enjoyable lager and well worth a try.

Larkin’s Doppelbock Lager 7.6%, 500ml bottle €3.95 Bradley’s

“There’s eating and drinking it” is a Cork saying and it could well be applied to this strong lager. Traditional bock is a sweet, relatively strong beer and the name doppelbock indicates even more strength. It was originally brewed by monks for nourishment during Lenten fasting. Cute boys, those German monks.

The Larkin’s Doppelbock has a dark brown colour with a coffee-cream head that vanishes fairly quickly. It is aromatic, with concentrated sweetish flavours including caramel that disguise the high alcohol. Strong yes but fairly well balanced and with a satisfactory finalé. The Märzen is the easier drink though but if you are fasting, then that Doppelbock’s your only man.

Larkin’s Baltic Porter 7.0%, 500ml bottle €3.95 Bradley’s


Baltic Porter comes originally from the Baltic states, usually stronger and sweeter. By the way, a lager yeast is normally used and indeed, you read “lager” on the Larkin’s label.

It has, as you'd expect, a black body; also a coffee coloured head that doesn't last long. Toasted coffee and caramel type flavours, a touch of that sweetness too; flavours are concentrated and the finish is soft and pleasant. A rather nice porter but not that easy drinking. Might use it as a warm-up for a stout session!

* They also produce a Helles lager but I didn't get my hands on one - yet!

Larkin's Brewing Company
Unit 2, Renmore Business Park, Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow.
info@larkinsbrewing.com
+353 (1) 281 1640


Sunday, May 27, 2018

A Few Beer Classics. Four of the Best


A Few Beer Classics

Four of the Best

St Bernardus Abt 12, 10% abv, 33 cl bottle €4.50 Bradley’s of Cork

This extra strong Belgian barley wine style beer has a large creamy head; colour is golden brown and there are fruity and hoppy elements in the aromas. It is complex and full-bodied, packed with flavour and then a long finish with a hoppy bite. Well balanced overall and no wonder they call it “the pride of our stable”.

Indeed, this quadrupel is regarded as one of the best beers in the world. In the Belgian scheme of beer, quadrupel indicates it is stronger than a tripel, which is stronger than a dubbel. One for sipping then, but each sip packs a beautiful punch. 

St Bernardus, by the way, run a B&B in the brewery. Now that, combined with a tour and tasting, would be some visit. In addition, “B&B Het Brouwershuis is a place to enjoy a gastronomic breakfast buffet, to take the time for a chat and to make use of the unlimited possibilities to explore the region”. Check it out here.  

Thornbridge Jaipur IPA, 5.95%, 33 cl bottle, €3.50, Bradley’s of Cork

The complexity of this multi award winning American style IPA is down to no less than the six hops used: Chinook, Centennial, Ahtanum, Simcoe, Columbus and Cascade. Thornbridge, based in Derby, are regarded by many as Britain’s leading 21st century brewery.

It wears this complexity lightly though and you’ll have no problem sipping your way through this beauty from the UK brewery. It has a fairly cloudy pale yellow colour and hoppy aromas. Smooth on the palate, hoppy, citrus notes too, and a beautiful balance all the way to hoppy finish. Not too much more to say except that this is more or less the perfect IPA. Not surprised that the award tally worldwide has soared to over the one hundred mark.

Saison Dupont (Belgium) 6.5%, €2.95 33cl bottle Bradley’s Cork

Beer has been brewed here for centuries but it is only in the last 20 years or so that the Dupont Brewery has become a global reference for saison. As Michael Creedon of Bradley’s told me “if you don’t like this, you don’t like saison”.

It is a cloudy mid-amber, fountains of micro-bubbles. Aromas of citrus. Light and fruity, zesty and refreshing, yet no shortage of hearty flavour. Reckon any labourer, even a keyboard one, would be happy with this impeccable beer. Superb finish also with the bitterness now to the forefront.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, 5.6abv, 355ml can at Bradley’s of Cork


This 100% whole-cone Cascade hops beer, with its piney and grapefruit aromas, is a classic, all natural, bottle conditioned and refreshingly bold. And still going strong after 35 years.

Bitterness comes in at 38 and suggested food pairings are grilled steak, citrus salad, Thai curry and roasted veg.

So what does this “turning point for American beer” taste like? Well, it looks like hazy amber in the glass and smells like its well hopped, pine notes coming through. By the time I had written that, the frail white head had more or less vanished. Time for the first sip which was superb, hops and fruit, a terrific mouthful. No wonder it has become a classic, setting the standard for start-up breweries across the world. Viva Nevada!

Just noticed that this Pale Ale has been voted No. 1 in Food & Wine's 25 Most Important American Craft Beers Ever. See the full list here.

Monday, April 30, 2018

And Union. Solid Colours Stand Out.


And Union. Solid Colours Stand Out.
With the multitude of multi-coloured cans now on the beer shelf, it’s back to basic for German brewers And Union. And their one colour cans really stand out. They certainly caught my eye in Bradley’s the other day and I took advantage of the four for €10.00 offer. 

CL, who had just been to the Franciscan Well Beer Festival, wasn't overly impressed with my quartet, saying there were better beers at the Well. She has a very valid point - I certainly enjoyed a few there: 9 White Deer Brewery Black Lightning IPA and Stag Saor Gluten Free Stout; Kinnegar Brewing Hare & Hag Irish Coffee Stout; and Lough Gill Brewery Mac Nutty Brown Ale.

The four Germans though are all well made and I enjoyed each of them, particularly the black lager. Then again, as you can see from the selection in the Franciscan, I was “researching” the dark-ish side that evening. Next time, I’ll let CL choose!

And Union Unfiltered Lager, 5%, 33cl can
Brewed in Bavaria, from Hallertau Aroma hops, this is “an old school lager, bursting with flavour”. Bitterness units are 25.

It is pale and cloudy with a full head, citrusy aromas and fruit too on the palate, malt and citrus prominent, smooth to a dry finish. This vegan friendly brew is recommended as an appetiser and also “with spicy foods, tacos, oysters, tempura”.

And Union Neu Black Lager, 5%, 33cl can
Again this is brewed from the same Hallertau hops and the bitterness count is lowest of the four at 20. “A rich and toasty and complex yet light bodied and refreshing.”

You’ll see blacker blacks. It has an ample white head. Aromas of hops and fruit. Much more complex on the palate than the previous one, rich and toasty as they say and it is light and refreshing with a fruity and hoppy finish. My favourite of the four.







And Union Sunday Pale Ale, 5.5%, 33cl can
Bitterness units in this Pale Ale are higher, as you’d expect, at 35. It is “balanced and gently spiced, easy-like-Sunday-morning..”

It pours cloudy with a mid-gold colour, an ample if short-lived white head. Aromas are moderately hoppy. Hops used by the way are Hallertau Aroma and Summit. In the mouth, you get a good mix of malt and citrus, dry for sure, all the way to a hoppy finish. Pair with whatever you can handle after the night before, cornflakes maybe but not the Full Irish!

And Union Friday IPA 6.5%, 33 cl can
This “Bavarian take on the American-style IPA is not for woosies”. Not for craft beer newbies either with the bitterness units hitting 55. Hops used are Hallertau Aroma and Chinook.

Again, I liked this one with its hazy gold colour and ample white head, aromas slightly more hops than fruit. On the palate, It is a quite complex amalgam of hops and malt and fruit, well balanced though with a long dry and effervescent hoppy finish. Cheers!




Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Low ABV Can Session


A Low ABV Can Session 
Cloudwater Small Citra Ekuanot Pale Ale, 2.9%, 
440 ml can, Bradley’s of Cork


This cloudy yellow Pale Ale may be low in alcohol but it is certainly well up to speed on the hop side with the Pilgrim Alpha doing the bittering business. No shortage of flavour either. It is packed with eight malts and the two hops in the name also figure. You’ll also note a touch of clove on the nose.

Important info on the attractive label includes the message that hops fade fast - fresher is better. Cloudwater are a Manchester based brewery who specialise in modern seasonal beer. Certainly worth exploring. Dry hop intensity is 12 g/l, a stat I haven’t seen featured elsewhere.

Ballast Point Mango Even Keel Session IPA, 3.8%, 355 ml can, Bradley’s of Cork

The Ballast Point Brewery is based in San Diego (USA) and was started in 1996 by friends who were home brewers.

This is a bright and light yellow in the glass with fruit and hop aromas. Fruit (the mango prominent) and hops too on the palate. Pleasant and easy-drinking, had me thinking (wishing) of summer-time in the back-garden. Food pairings suggestions include ceviche and Stilton Cheese - interesting. IBUs = 40.


Five Points Pale, 4.4%, 330 ml can, 
Bradley’s of Cork
London brewery Five Points have added American hops to their British Maris thus “combining our real ale tradition with New World sensibilities”. The combination is quite a success

I first came across this clear and bright  beer at a Five Point tasting in the Abbot Ale House, here in Cork. Francesca Slattery, the company’s Ireland Account Manager, told us that they spent six months developing this. “We had to get it right. It should be our backbone.” They got it right and it now accounts for 60% of their total sales.

It is fresh and modern and aromatic, easy drinking and perfect for any occasion. Perfect is a good word for the beer itself which features Amarillo and Citra hops.

Five Points XPA 4.00%, 330 ml can, Bradley’s of Cork

Pale of colour and a little shy in the aromas. But the palate is not at all timid, a terrific combination of malted barley, malted oats and the Citra (US) and Galaxy (Australia) hops.


No wonder it was retained by the brewery after the reason for its first production, the celebration of a local music festival, had long passed. It is bitter upfront but with a sweeter finish and the Golden Naked Oats help give it a nice mouthful. Easy to enjoy a few of these at a session. Or at a music festival!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Braupakt Hefeweissbier. A Flavoursome Duet with Weihenstephaner and Sierra Nevada.


Weihenstephaner Braupakt Hefeweissbier 6% abv, 35 IBU, 50cl bottle at Bradley’s of Cork*.

Those behind this collaboration between Weihenstephaner (the world’s oldest brewery, 1040) and Sierra Nevada (of much more recent vintage, 1979) have noted a trend away from ultra-bitter beers towards a more aromatic hoppy offering. Scott Jennings, head brewmaster at Sierra Nevada and Weihenstephan’s head brewmaster, Tobias Zollo, have produced this “perfect match” between the revered German hops and the newer American ones.

The name has nothing to do with the cool bear (I first thought it was a St Bernard!) on the front label. Braupakt (literally translated; Brewery Pact) merges “old world” purity standards and brewing methodologies with “new world” innovation and hop flavours. The collaborators say the name also plays on America’s “bro pact”.

This naturally cloudy amber Hefeweizen has a lasting foamy head. Peach, apricot and citrus on the nose, hints of clove too. The pleasant mix of aromas continue in the mouth, banana touches here too and a refreshing grapefruit from the American hops plus sweetish notes from the caramel malt. The beer is balanced and has a moderate tartness that melds into a harmonious mouthfeel on the finish. Very drinkable indeed.

They recommended pairing this wheat beer with exotic and spicy-hot fish, meat and seafood dishes.
The hops used are Hallertauer Tradition, Amarillo and Chinook. Hallertauer, often spelt without the final “r”, has a long history in German lagers. Malts: wheat malt, light and dark barley malt, caramel malt.

An interesting note on Sierra Nevada. When the brewery was founded in 1979 it was the 42nd in the USA. Today, there are close to five and a half thousand. Just shows how far craft beer has come in a relatively short time. Speaking of “short time” this is a limited edition! Well worth a try.

More Weihenstephaner stockists here




Monday, March 26, 2018

Eight Degrees Can Three Of Their Range


Eight Degrees Can Three Of Their Range


Eight Degrees are the latest brewery to can their beers. The Mitchelstown based firm launched three cans this March, two with established favourites and one with a newcomer. Very colourful cans they are too, joining a myriad of other colourful cans on the shelves. Canfusion for me but luckily Michael Creedon in Bradley’s always knows where the one you want is situated.

Brewery co-owner Scott Baigent said: “We've definitely seen an increased demand for cans in recent times and, despite our ongoing love for the 330ml bottle, are releasing three of our beers in 440ml cans.”

Neon Velvet Kiwifruit and Lime infused FPA, 5.0% abv, 39 IBUs

This is the newcomer, a limited edition beer, and only available in cans or on draught. This cloudy beer  is a golden colour. Aromas are bright hoppy. Very pleasant smooth intro. Infused with kiwi and lime and more flavour from the Citrus and Amarillo hops, all before a dry hopping with New Zealand hops Pacific Jade and Motueka. A lovely fruity ale, “hazy, silky and fruity” as they say themselves and with a dry finish.

Lots of food pairing suggestions on the Eight Degrees site but the one I fancy is: “a chunk of good Irish farmhouse cheddar will play off the fruit flavours in both elements of the pairing”.

Citra Single Hop IPA, 5.7% abv, 62 IBUs
Tropical fruit aromas and flavours on display from the get-go here with this pale orange coloured beer. Hoppy notes too in the aromas. The Citra hop holds up well on this solo run, its tropical flavours scoring all the way through, the malt also playing its part in quite a flavoursome drop indeed, fruity and juicy and a good finish as well.

Think I'd like to try that with the suggested “grilled spicy fresh Gubbeen chorizo sausages”.

Full Irish Single Malt IPA 6.0%, 65 IBUs
This excellent beer is well known at this stage, having gathered award after award following its 2014 launch. They describe this as “a hop bomb” and so it is but the bitterness in this pale gold drink is rounded. No shortage of hops in the aromas with citrus and floral notes in there too. Local barley is the malt hero here but the hops (Ahtanum, Centennial, Citra, Amarillo) share the limelight as this clean tasting well-balanced IPA makes its journey across the palate before you enjoy that rounded bitterness at the finalé. Quite a few food suggestions again; I’m inclined to go for the smoked duck, especially if it's Ummera.

So there you go. An excellent way to pass an evening watching Champions League on the telly. Just as well, Barca stopped at three against Chelsea!

Stockists: Eight Degrees beers are widely available in Ireland. Also in Italy, France and the Benelux countries. See stockists hereI got my three (for a tenner) at Bradley's Cork. 


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Friday Fuar Fliuch! Here’s the Fix! Bubbles. Burgers. Beers.

Friday Fuar Fliuch! Here’s the Fix! 
Bubbles. Burgers. Beers.

For burger lovers, Coqbull Cork seemed to be the place on Friday evening last. It was jammers, a great buzz, a lively racket really, music in there somewhere (I heard the odd thud, thud). 

They come in the front door. They come in the back door. And somehow they all get seated. 

No doubt, Friday is a busy evening here anyhow but the attendance and the atmosphere was enhanced by the Burger Festival (Jan 22nd to 28th). There was even a guy trying to demolish the six-burger record set earlier that day by Bandon man Colin Minihane who “who demolished 6 burgers, fries & a Coqshake in 10.32 mins yes that’s 10.32”.

One would be enough for me thanks! Coqbull provide the full experience here. You can have starters, desserts, craft beers (including their own lager), cocktails (or coqtails) and choose from a list of top gins.

Our starters were their tasty cool Nachos (with shredded beef added) and the Coqbull Wings with their Blas gold award winning Sticky Asian sauce, a delicious combination. We avoided the Hot Coq sauce though, too hot for chickens they said.

Sipping away at a glass of their lager (CL) and a can of the Metalman Wheat beer, we moved on to the main event. My choice was the most popular burger of the week, and likely to make it on to main menu sometime soon, the Bacon Bomb: double cheese, double beef bacon infused burger, caramelised onion & pickles wrapped in a potato bread bun...served with our FAT BASTARD WEDGES smothered in our new Coqbull secret seasoning. A mega feed for sure, great flavour, especially of the bacon, and that potato bread bun wasn't half-bad either.

CL’s choice was another festival favourite here, the Supreme Bull with blue cheese, bone marrow butter, portobello mushroom, truffle mayonnaise and rocket.

Another interesting one, especially on the Thursday when they had the Cork Whiskey Society in for a Scotch tasting, was The Sloppy Scot, made using the best of Haggis from Mc Carthy's of Kanturk, Beef, Ballymaloe Country Relish, rocket and a whiskey pepper sauce served with neeps and tatties. 

So that was the burger done. Earlier, we had the bubbles, as an aperitivo. Every Friday, L’Atitude 51 on Union Quay have a Friday Fizz between 4.00pm and 7.00pm, featuring a different fizz each time. Last Friday’s was La Jara Rosato Frizzante - a semi-sparkling wine made from red Raboso with a delicate pink colour and wonderfully fresh aromas of red apple and raspberry and juicy peach and pear flavours. It was every bit as delicious as they promised on Facebook, really good and good value too at €5.50 a glass. Watch out for future Fizz Fridays.

Indeed, if you like your bubbles, why not check out the Imperial Hotel too. In their Seventy Six Bar, they are offering a champagne flight, three Taittinger champagnes including a rosé, at a special price of fifteen euro.

After stuffing ourselves at Coqbull, we walked out into heavy rain, heavy enough to halt our planned walk to the beer festival at Franciscan Well. Instead we headed closer to home and, with the brolly up, made it to the new Bridge Bar in Bridge Street where the counter was full and there was live music from the O.C.D. trio. Food (charcuterie and cheese) also available here.

Great to see a long line-up of craft beers here, available on draft. We ended up comparing two ales, one from Yellow Belly, the other from Beavertown. Two excellent ales. The Wexford drink had attractive aromas and flavours and the expected hoppy finish. Beavertown is a London Brewery and their ale was possibly more focussed, a brewer’s beer maybe. Not much between them in any case. May have to go back for a replay.
Lager (left), Red Ale (right). But what's in the middle? The Bridge Bar.

May have to go back for a gin and tonic adventure too. That could take a while though. This is their long long list.

BLACKS OF KINSALE 7.25
BERTHAS REVENGE 6.50
MARTIN MILLERS 6.50
KINSALE GIN 6.70
BLACK WATER 6.10
MONKEY 47 10.10
QUINCE GIN 6.50
SHORTCROSS 6.80
BROCKMANS 6.80
GUNPOWDER 6.10
BEEFEATER 5.10
HENDRICKS 6.10
SIPSMITH 6.80
CORK DRY 4.80 
CAORUNN 7.00
BOMBAY 5.50
DINGLE 6.50
UNGAVA 6.50
JAWBOX 6.50
BLOOM 6.20
OPIHR 6.00

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Taste of the Week. Kinnegar’s Crossroads American Style IPA

Taste of the Week
Kinnegar’s Crossroads American Style IPA

Had a bit of an American IPA duel recently with Kinnegar's Crossroad and California’s Lagunitas (lag-goo-KNEE-tus) the protagonists, both bought from Bradley’s of Cork. 

Thanks to the US guys for the pronunciation guide. Their Indian Pale Ale was superb as was indeed their 12th of Never Pale Ale.

There were two rounds, both level going into the second. I had brought in one of Donegal diaspora for this one but my islander couldn't split them. 

That left it up to me and I gave the nod to the aromatic citrusy crisp Crossroads, our Taste of the Week, and its nicely bittered finish. Close-run thing tough. Might have to call for a replay! 

K2, Ballyraine Industrial Estate,

 Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

Monday, December 11, 2017

Winter Kings by Eight Degrees. Royal Clash of the Oak. And the Holly.

Winter Kings by Eight Degrees.

Royal Clash of the Oak. And the Holly.
Ale (left) and stout, peaceful in the pack.

Quite a lot of talk about Brett C when Eight Degrees recently launched their pair of winter seasonals, a Belgian Pale Ale and an Imperial Stout, both part of the Ballyhoura Series.

Who the hell is Brett C? I googled it and found that he is a Melbourne, Australia based photographer who specialises in sport, fashion, event and people photography. 

We all know Eight Degrees have antipodean connections but this is the wrong answer. Brettanomyces is its proper name and it is a yeast that the brewery has used in each of these beers. Brett C, the yeast that is, is more likely to be noticed in the aromas than in the flavours and funky is the term regularly associated with it.

Mid-winter is a source of many legends and myths and the battle between the oak king and the holly king is the one you’ll see on the bottle labels. Various versions abound and here are two links you might explore when sipping these Mitchelstown gems.


The Holly King (wren) and the Oak King (robin)  https://stairnaheireann.net/2016/04/13/the-holly-and-oak-king/

Scott (left) and Cam, at work

The Oak King Belgian Pale Ale, 6.5% abv, RRP €7.95 (75ml bottle) 

This Belgian style pale ale has an amber robe. There’s an almost cider-y intro to the palate, gradually getting more complex before a tart finish. Sour maybe but not crab apple sour, perhaps the oak has rounded off any extremes.

Austere is probably the single best word to describe this sophisticated offering. Don't let the “austere” put you off though. This is one of the most interesting seasonal beers this Christmas and I may well be serving it as an aperitif in champagne flutes as suggested by the brewery.

Brewery tips: Serve well chilled in champagne flutes as an aperitif on Christmas morning, with a half-dozen oysters or some smoked salmon, or take it to the dinner table to pair perfectly with your turkey.

The Holly King Imperial Stout, 9.8% abv, €11.95 RRP (75ml bottle)

As black as a mid-winter’s night in a Ballyhoura boreen, though it starts with a tanned head that, like many a tan from a bottle, doesn't last too long. The intro to the palate is intense, treacle like in flavour or maybe it’s funk, but soon more traditional flavours, including coffee, take over. Some vanilla there too, all brought together, along with Brett C of course, during the sojourn in the oak casks (previously used for Pinot Noir). Strong start, strong finish, quite a player for the Christmas team.

Brewery tips: It's a hugely complex beer, so pour it into snifters and sip it slowly to end a meal with a slice of spicy Christmas Cake, studded with nuts and dried fruit, classic Black Forrest Gateau or a box of cocoa-dusted dark chocolate truffles.

* Both are packaged in 750ml amber champagne-style bottles and are available individually or as 2 x 750ml bottle gift packs (RRP €19.95). They are widely available, including at Bradley’s Cork; for more stockists and more info, click hereBeoirFinder App now available for Android and iOS .

* And while you're on the net, check out some of my favourite funk right here