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

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Three Wines. And a few beers!

Three Wines. And a few beers!
Valdivia Dorius Amontillado seco sherry, Jerez (DO), 18%, €17.85 (50cls) Karwig Wines.

This dry amontillado is the perfect match for meat dishes and mature cheese and vanished very quickly here, where it was used as an aperitif - so quickly, I didn't have time to take any notes. 

To get the best from its generous aromas and flavours, serve it at between 12 and 14 degrees. It has lovely amber colour, a rich almond nose, a nutty and tangy flavour and the superb finish goes on and on. And you can get all this from just one little sip. Very Highly Recommended. Enjoy, with all five senses, as they invite on the bottle.

Exquisite Collection Cremant du Jura (AOP) Chardonnay 2014, 12%, €11.29 Aldi

Had to pick up a sparkling wine in a hurry and got this Brut (dry) in at the local Aldi. A few hours later, I was very impressed with it. This sparkling Chardonnay, made using the same methods as they use in making champagne, was perfect for our little celebration. It is not lacking in complexity, has light fruit flavours, a hint of biscuit (that you find in champagnes), and a fine finish. Good price too. Very Highly Recommended.


Barefoot Merlot (California), 13.5%, €10.00 O’Donovan’s Off Licence
“Wine tastes better in a tee than in a tux”, Barefoot say. So you’re thinking cheap and cheerful, nothing wrong with that and nothing wrong with this Merlot either.  This is smooth and warming, full of raspberry and blackberry flavours, mild tannins, well balanced too and with a decent finish. It is an easy-drinker and good value. 

Beer Bullets

Cloudwater Session IPA Wai-iti 4.5%
Thought this was an American brewery but they are from Manchester. Brexit or not, this is an excellent beer, a superb IPA. You’ll get hoppier but the balance here is spot-on and as a result, the beer is well worth a try. You may not get it in Old Trafford or The Etihad but you’ll certainly find a bottle in Bradley’s.

St Bernardus Wit, 5.5%, 

St Bernardus has quite a smile and his abbey beers deliver every time. As they do with this perfect wheat beer. This traditional Belgian wheat beer is more or less a perfect example of the type, with clove notes, very refreshing, your perfect thirst quencher. Thirsty? Bradley’s have this answer.

St Bernardus Abt 12, 10%
Another big delivery from the Belgians, the big here referring to the alcohol at 10%. Not a big worry though; the beer is perfectly balanced between malty, bitter and sweet. It has fruity aromas, is full bodied with a hoppy touch on the finish.


They say: It is the pride of our stable, the nec plus ultra of our brewery. Abbey ale brewed in the classic 'Quadrupel' style of Belgium's best Abbey Ales.  

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Black's and Man Friday Highlights of Kinsale Day. Munster Wine & Dine On Tour

Black's and Man Friday Highlights of Kinsale Day

Munster Wine & Dine On Tour
The sun came too as the Munster Wine and Dine members headed for Kinsale last Friday. The major calls were to Black’s Brewery (and Distillery now) for a tasting and tour and, after a drink at The Spaniard, dinner at the Man Friday (long established but with a new kid on the block).

The Blacks have been making gin for the past two years or so and there were many versions before Maudeline felt happy with it. Think we all felt happy with it, after the on-site tasting on Friday. “Angelica and orris root combine with liquorice, juniper and coriander whilst distinctly citrus notes linger at the end to enhance a dry finish” is the official tasting note.It is available in Dunnes Stores and at many independents as well.
Maudeline, who instigated the gin-making, and husband Sam have quite a range of beers but the 1601, named after the famous local battle that had national implications to say the least, is their first lager. Sam explained a few things about lager as we sipped the flavoursome drink. “A different type of yeast is used, it is cold fermented, takes longer to mature and this one is also gluten free”.

Sam then took us around the brewery - the gin is in the same building but in a separate compartment which we saw a little later. We would also sample their best seller, the Kinsale Pale Ale. “Hops add flavour here and also counteract the sweetness of the barley”.
Sam Black
As the tour went on he answered questions on the functions of the various tanks and so on. People wanted to see the bottling but that is contracted out. Canning though is done on a regular basis by a mobile canning machine that calls to the site.

He acknowledged that the craft scene is a nice industry where everyone gets on quite well together. He is pretty confident about the future. “The rebate we craft brewers get allows us to compete and if the proposed legislation enabling small brewers to sell their beers direct to on-site visitors gets through, that will be a good thing. We employ six here and we’ll have one extra for the summer.”

Heather and verbena may be among the local botanicals in the gin, he hinted when we reached the distillery. “Each batch may be that little bit different but it is always good,” he promised. By the way, his alcohol is whey based and comes from Carbery in West Cork.

Not too sure he promised wife Maudeline that he’d stop taking kit from the kitchen. The hair-drier has been used to heat surfaces so that labels can be applied to the gin bottles and a food mixer had also been pressed into use. He did promise that we’d be drinking his rum in three years time! And that is just one development that this inventive and busy couple have up their sleeves!
We gathered outside the gable end of The Spaniard ahead of crossing the road into Man Friday where son Daniel is continuing his take-over in the kitchens. There is a great view from the part of the dining room where our group of thirty plus were seated but soon all eyes were on the plates.

We nibbled away on some very tasty charcuterie as we studied the menu and sipped the wines. My starter was the New Season Asparagus with Stonewell Cider Hollandaise and edible flowers. All eminently edible! Also enjoyed around me were Sea Bass Carpaccio with mango, baby coriander & lime and the Bruschetta with Macroom Mozzarella n’duja, courgette, rocket and fennel.

The high standard continued with the main course where my pick was the Local Cod with cauliflower purée, shaved asparagus, fennel, radish, peas, chilli oil and a beurre blanc. Great reports on the Slow Cooked new season shoulder of lamb with wilted spinach, roast Jerusalem artichoke, agresto and crème fraiche.

The finalé was the Almond and Rhubarb Tart with vanilla ice-cream and then Daniel was persuaded to make an appearance to take a well deserved round of applause.

Sam, with MW&D member Richard (right)
The next event on the calendar will be the Super-Valu Wine Selection Panel in L'Atitude 51 on Wednesday May 24th.
Cod at Man Friday

Sunday, March 26, 2017

At the home of Ireland’s Oldest Beer. The Smithwick’s Experience, Kilkenny.

At the home of Ireland’s Oldest Beer.

The Smithwick’s Experience, Kilkenny
 Smithwick’s, our guide tells us at the start of our tour in its Kilkenny home, is the oldest beer in Ireland, first produced here in 1710. The 307 years impress our group, which includes a few Americans. But we are told it is entirely possible that beer was made here by Franciscan monks as far back as 1231. 


In 2012, the Kilkenny People headlined: Profitable brewery closed. The tradition ended in 2014 when the brewery closed and the beer is now brewed in Dublin, at Guinness.
Smithwick family was first to have running water in Kilkenny, 
hence the bath-tubs as seats for tour visitors.
 We were introduced to the family behind the name, eight generations of them, including John Smithwick who originally leased the building. John was a budding entrepreneur and the twenty year old soon started the brewing business. 


But then the penal laws hit - Catholics weren't allowed own businesses. The crafty Smithwick found a loophole and Protestant Richard Cole became his frontman, an early example of eucenmism. 
 That block on Catholic ownership lasted for an incredible 117 years. And the fact that the Smithwicks weren't the legal owners meant they could only operate locally so the business was hindered - going outside of the locality would put the “arrangement” at risk. 


Finally, it was John's great-grandson Edmund who got the legal right to run the brewery in his own name and celebrated by putting the name over the the gate (that we had entered a few minutes earlier). At this stage too, the family were very close with Daniel O’Connell, the Great Liberator.
Smell the hops
 Roads weren't great at the time so Edmund started using the rivers to distribute Smithwick’s. Expansion followed and soon it became a national brand. We would meet all the key family members, or at least their talking portraits, as we made our way through the house. And the centuries.


In the 1930s, Walter brought a more modern outlook. He introduced their first logo, the No.1, and also started a commission scheme for the salesmen. By 1950, the brand was becoming known outside of Ireland and in January of that year, they attempted their first export to Boston. It landed in Boston - that much is known - but then it appears that every bottle was stolen! Nowadays, Smithwicks is exported to the US, Canada, France and South Korea.
 The guide went on to introduce us to the ingredients and the process. We had a good sniff of the various hops used in the beer, now made in three versions: the traditional red ale, the pale ale and the blonde. Hops sniffed included the American pair of Amarillo and Cascade.


By the way, if you ask for a Smithwick anywhere in Ireland, especially in Kilkenny, you’ll almost certainly get the traditional red. Our final call was to the bar to sample the wares. The basic tour entitles you to a pint of the red ale. A few euro more and you can have a paddle with half-pints of the three different beers. 
Waiting for the missing blonde! The red in middle, pale ale on right.
My paddle and few others, including that of a couple of Californians, didn't work out too well. We got the red and the excellent pale ale but the blonde tap ran out. 

We were told we’d have our blonde in a few minutes but the guide was called away (presumably to lead another group), there was no other employee left at the bar and we never got the blonde. Ourselves and the Californians and a few more left without tasting it and that put a bit of a downer on an otherwise interesting tour.

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.