Showing posts with label craft cider. Show all posts
Showing posts with label craft cider. Show all posts

Monday, November 30, 2015

Taste of the Week. Con’s Irish Cider

Taste of the Week
Con’s Irish Cider



If you haven’t tasted real Irish cider before, you're in for a treat. This is packed with flavour and it just waiting to get out of the bottle and impress. Your palate will initially be overwhelmed - after all, 85% (maybe more) of the content is apple. You soon get used to it and begin to enjoy the genuine taste of an Irish orchard.


Made in Cahir (County Tipperary) by Con Traas, from his own apples, this cloudy small batch cider is a great example of the craft. Taste of the Week, any week.

That initial burst in the mouth reminded me instantly of something Brooklyn brewer Garrett Oliver said at Ballymaloe LitFest earlier in the year: “You hear people say, when they taste a craft beer: This is nice, doesn't taste like beer." He had an explanation: ‘The beer they grew up with didn't taste like real beer!’”

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Son of a Bun know their Beef. In the Pink!

Son of a Bun know their Beef.
From the Start, to the Finish in Pink!

Niall, with yours truly
Son of a Bun, the new bright and airy burger place in McCurtain Street, know their beef, their key ingredient. Niall O’Regan, who launched the venue last night, told me he is from Bandon and the beef comes from an Irish Aberdeen Angus beef herd near the West Cork town, via butcher Dan Maloney who has his own abattoir. It is minced onsite in Son of a Bun everyday.

“The Son of a Bun motto is simple: sourced locally, minced daily and cooked pink. We believe that pink is the best way to serve a burger – and we guarantee that once you taste our burgers, you will feel the same way too,” he added.

And it makes for a brilliant burger, one that is served pink (unless of course you state otherwise). It is moist and tender, full of flavour and absolutely delicious, no two ways about it.

And it is flipping big! Niall’s wife Amanda took us through the menu as the guests gathered and the music played under the ceilingless roof. There are almost a dozen burgers on offer: the Cheese, the Stack, the Chilli, the Black, the Skinny, the Veggie and so on, most at under a tenner.

The mighty Rebel
 “Everything on our menu - our sides, fries, dips and chips – even our desserts are all homemade and prepared fresh every day. We think that it is important to know that everything is carefully selected which is why our beef and chicken are sourced locally and our eggs are all free range,” she said.

CL couldn't resist the Son of a Bun Burger. This is the CV: six ounce hamburger, cheddar cheese, smoked streaky bacon, shredded iceberg, tomato, crispy fried onions and SOB sauce. Mega and fantastic, especially when you add a pot of skinny chips!

Me? Well I spotted the Burger of the Month and went for that. This power-packed Rebel is armed for the teeth with that sensational 6 ounce burger (pink, of course), American cheese, pickles, crispy fried onions, streaky bacon, jalapenos, and mayonnaise. And on the side, a dish of chunky cut chips. Mega stuff. Not a crumb of mince, of anything, left on either plate.

They have a few small things to nibble while you wait including Nachos, chips and dips, and the bowl of mixed olives (three different types) that we choose. And they have a decent selection of salads and sides as well, something for everyone.

Guilty, as charged!
 And if you’d like a pint of craft beer with your burger, then you've come to the right place. We enjoyed draft Franciscan Well, Chieftain for me, Rebel Red for her but they have even more in bottles (including Stag Ban and Black Lightning) and I also noticed bottles of Stonewell cider there.

Now for the guilty part. I'd better confess. We each ended up with a massive Knickerbocker Glory, layer after layer of cream, ice-cream, fresh fruit, fruit coulis and the cherry on top. Sweet dreams after all that!

Niall and Amanda established their first restaurant, Niall’s, in Bandon in 2002. That was followed by the opening of the Coffee Pod on Lapps Quay, Cork in 2006 and by the Coffee Pod on Winthrop Street, Cork in 2007.

Amazing how McCurtain Street has gradually emerged as a food street, established restaurant stars such as Greene’s and Isaac's and everything from coffee shops and tea shops, to subways and ethnic, and now the Son of a Bun, the new kid on the block, a beautiful noise emerging from where the famed Crowley’s Music Shop stood for decades.

Son of a Bun
29 MacCurtain Street, Cork
021 450 8738
Twitter: @sonofabuncork
Facebook: sonofabuncork
Open every day from 12 noon until 10pm.
Home cooking: Amanda and Niall

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Clonakilty Hotel’s Copperpot Restaurant


The Clonakilty Hotel’s Copperpot Restaurant
Goats Cheese
Glad I followed up a recommendation from a friend the other day and called to the Copperpot Restaurant in Clonakilty for an evening meal. The restaurant is part of the Clonakilty Hotel but has its own entrance as well on the corner of Wolfe Tone Street and College Street.

It has an Early Bird menu - two courses for 19.95, three for 24.95 - but we were at our leisure and went for the A La Carte. This is also fairly priced and is available from 3.00pm. Starters included Soup of the Day, Chowder, Chicken and Bacon salad, a Chicken Liver Pate and also Fried Scampi.
Sea-Bass
You regularly see Deep-fried Brie as a starter but they came up with a Golden Fried Goats Cheese, Crumbed and deep-fried and served with a red onion and mixed pepper jam. This was a terrific starter, very flavoursome, for €6.95.

While I was studying the menu I was tempted by the Mussels Thai Style (6.95). I remembered a dish they used do at the former Thai restaurant in Bridge Street in the city where they served very large mussels. But the Copperpot used local mussels with a hint of chilli and ginger and served with crispy baguette. This was a great change to the usual Moules Mariniere, indeed a delightful one. I was very happy with that choice and would pick it again without hesitation.

Pork
So we were off to a good start. How would the main courses measure up? No problem here either. There is a quite a choice on the regular menu but we picked two from the specials board. Mine was Pork Fillet served with a Mushroom Sauce (11.95). A great piece of pork, tender and delicious and enhanced no end by the sauce.

CL went for the Sea-Bass with its Chilli Cream Sauce (16.50), another perfectly executed plateful, a satisfying combination of flavours with the sauce a well judged addition rather than an overpowering mask. The side vegetables were perfectly cooked as well.

All the while I was sipping away at my Stonewell medium dry cider and that really came into its with the pork. Hopefully the cider is the first of local craft drinks to appear on the menu.


It had been a long time since a quickly snatched lunch so this time we had room for dessert. CL picked the Poached Pear in a Cinnamon Syrup and with Vanilla Ice-cream. Very impressive! I hadn't heard of Glenowen ice-creams so I said I’d try the Selection of Glenowen Farm Hand-made ice creams from Middleton(?). It came in three delicious flavours. Still not sure though who makes it, haven't been able to find anything on the internet. Have any of you heard of it?

Overall though this was a very satisfying meal indeed and you can add the Copperpot to your Clonakilty list.
Pears

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Craft Cider’s Challenges. More Like Wine Than Beer

Craft Cider’s Challenges.

More Like Wine Than Beer
You can see the lone Elstar is bigger and better looking than the surrounding Dabinett!

Gin, Whiskey and Cider were among the tipples highlighted in a drinks series at Merry’s Pub in Dungarvan as part of the West Waterford Food Festival. Simon Tyrrell spoke on Craft Cider on Saturday and gave us an idea of the challenges, both natural (weather, terroir) and regulatory (punitive duty), facing the new wave of producers.

Simon, a winemaker in the Rhone, makes Craigie's Cider in County Wicklow, where his partners are Angus Craigie, Ralf Högger, Emma Tyrrell and Alan Garrioch.  Sourcing good apples can be a problem; Simon is convinced that Ireland produces some of the best apples in the world “but difficult to find”.

Dabinett and Michelin are perhaps the best known cider apples in Ireland. Simon works a lot with Dabinett. “It looks awful, gnarled, small. The flesh is woody and it has tannins.” But these tannins give structure and also help the cider age and eventually helps the interaction between cider and food.

Cider makers only get one chance a year to get it right - a major difference with the making of beer! “We only make vintage cider, “ he said, as he introduced us to Craigie’s Dalliance 2012. “No blends from different years. Cider should taste different from year to year.” Cider looks to express the best qualities of the fruit, show where the nuances lie.
The apples used in 2012 were from the Cappoquin Estate. Elstar is a favourite with Simon: “the finest eating apple” accounts for fifty per cent of the blend. The varieties, the other is Falstaff, were fermented separately “because they ripened separately” and are then allowed sit on the lees for 15 months.

“You have pear and apple like flavours and a natural freshness. The PH, at 2.9, is very low and this helps protect the emerging cider”.

Next up for tasting was the Dalliance 2013 and there were differences, some down to the weather which was better for this one. June and July were very good months and September was above average.

“This is a different drinking experience. It is drier, has a less complex flavour profile but not the concentration of the 2012. Might get there but not sure!”

If the Dalliance illustrated the effect of the weather, the next cider, the Ballyhook Flyer, showed the way soil can impact on the cider. The Flyer is their “principal” cider and is made from 80% Dabinett (availability of this type is increasing) and also some Katy (desert) and Bramley. As he talked  us through the Flyer 2012, we could see that the “dry” sensation is more prominent than in the Dalliance. “Because the PH is higher.”

An extra orchard, near Carrick on Suir, was used for Dabinett in 2013. Here, a slight change in the soil type gave the cider more body, more tannin, and Simon is thinking of using barrel aging in future vintages of the Flyer to “help polish the tannins”. The aromas at this stage are less expressive. It has some of same characteristics as the 2012 but the style is “more gripping” because of the new source for the Dabinett.
Get the best of Irish drink in Merry's: beer, cider, spirits.

And if the problems posed by the weather and the terroir weren't enough of a challenge, you have the punitive tax imposed by the government if the ABV (alcohol by volume, expressed as a percentage) is higher than six per cent and remember that higher ABV could be a natural outcome of the harvest. Luckily EU law allows variations but generally Irish law on the subject does not cater for variations of nature and this can encourage people to water it down. Not what we want at all. And certainly not what any craft cider maker wants.

Happily, we have dedicated people like Simon leading this new wave of cider makers and they should be supported in their efforts. You can see the list of makers here at Cider Ireland. The best way that we can support them is buy local Irish craft cider. And there are some excellent ciders out there as was so ably illustrated in Merry’s.
See also: A Tour of West Waterford Producers on the Bus Bia
See also: The Tannery Kitchen Supper.
See also:

Dungarvan Wrap-Up. West Waterford Festival of Food

See Also: 

From Power With Love. A Persian Dinner. Gorgeous. Generous


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Taste of the Week. An Elegant Cider from Orpens

Taste of the Week
An Elegant Cider from Orpens
Orpens Apple Cider Medium Dry, Vintage 2012, 5.3%, stockists include Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork


A beautiful golden honey colour enhanced by a fountain of bubbles rising and sparkling in the Easter sun. Lovely fruit aromas arise too, cooked apples mainly, and even a hint of cinnamon.

On the palate, this fresh pressed cider is rather elegant and refined, slightly tart, refreshing, and with a good dry finish. One for sipping rather than slugging! Perhaps not surprising, considering the amount of wine connections and wine-making knowledge among the principal players at Orpens.

Indeed, quite a few of the new wave of Irish craft cider producers have strong wine connections including, for example, Simon Tyrrell of Craigies who, lucky fellow, makes wine in the Rhone and cider in Wicklow.

Orpens are listed among the Irish craft cider makers in Slainte (pub. 2014) by Kristin Jensen and Caroline Hennessy and you may find out more about the company and their stockists at www.orpens.ie

  • Wasn't too sure what glass to taste this in; eventually settled on the Riedel Restaurant series Riesling/Sauvignon blanc. Thought it worked well and showed the cider at its best but then it looks as if most tulip shaped glasses would be suitable. Open to suggestions here!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Craigies Dalliance Irish Cider. Taste of the Week


Craigies Dalliance Irish Cider. Taste of the Week

“We have just one crop, one shot a year,” said Simon Tyrrell, who produces Craigie's Cider with his partner Angus Craigie, at a Beer and Cider event during last weekend’s Ballymaloe LitFest. “The cider world has a different approach. Ours is very seasonal. The demands are different to beer, indeed more like wine. Cider looks to express the best qualities of the fruit, show where the nuances lie.”

Simon was showing his latest Irish Cider. This is the Dalliance 2012. One sip and I was hooked. Back in the city, I made it a priority to call to Bradley’s in North Main Street and get a few bottles to really test it!

The first impression, that of an outstanding cider, was reinforced. This is a gem, a dry, fruity and refreshing cider and does indeed express the best qualities of the Irish apples that they use.

Craigies recommend drinking it with seafood, poultry, and creamy cheeses or, of course, just simply on its own. This is a must try and is our Taste of the Week. Very Highly Recommended.

Craigies Irish Cider, Dalliance 2012, 5.8%, €4.49 per 375ml bottle.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Franciscan Well Easter Beer Festival

Franciscan Well Easter Beer Festival

Made an early visit to the Franciscan Well Beer Festival this Saturday afternoon and took my chance to sample some of the newer brews before the crowds started to roll in on this sunny day.

Last year, the Lynch brothers from Mayfield’s Cotton Ball were on the outside of the ring; this time, Eoin and Humphrey were serving their own beers including their latest. This is called Indian Summer and is quite a lovely drink for the days ahead, a mix of lager ingredients and an ale yeast.

Not to be outdone, the now well established Eight Degrees also had new one on offer, the Full Irish, a strong 100 per cent Irish Malt ale. I've had a sneak preview of the publicity shots for this one. X is the letter that springs to mind! Think Full Monty!

Blacks of Kinsale were promising a surprise for later in the afternoon when a special set-up will allow them to add fresh hops (a new one called Equinox) at the very last moment to Kinsale Pale Ale. Can't get fresher than that. Try that and don’t forget to sample their Beoir #1

Beers from new Connemara brewery available at Bradley's, North Main Street, Cork.
Great to meet up with Jamie from White Gypsy and his innovative beers. Tried his lovely refreshing Wheat beer, the beer you need after walking round, Bavarian in style but Irish “engineered”. The 5.2% Pilsner isn't half bad either. White Gypsy are growing their own hops this year and are also hoping that more and more restaurants will offer a craft beer as an alternative to wine.

The gregarious Mountain Man was another brewer I had not met before and he explained that his Hairy Goat was an English Style IPA with a lowish ABV. Nothing low though about the ABV of its American cousin, the 7.5% Crazy Horse. Well worth a try.

Micro-breweries just keep popping up around the country and next up was JJ's from County Limerick. This was their first outing and the 4.8% Pils lager promised much, especially as this is their very first beer.

aAnd another newcomer, the 9 White Deer Brewery from Ballyvourney, was also making its debut. Gordon Lucey tells me their hops, including Amarillo, Cascade and Fast Gold, comes from all over the world but the "mystical" water is local as is the yeast. This will soon be on sale in 500ml bottles and watch out for other beers, including a stout.

Nice to chat with Caroline of Eight Degrees and also with Claire from Dungarvan Brewing Company. I always enjoy the Dungarvan beers and tried a couple this time: their wheat beer and their Comeragh Challenge Irish Bitter. Had a preference for the former but isn't that what craft beer is all about. Great to have the choice. Long may the craft revolution continue!


The Franciscan Well Festival continues until late this Saturday evening and is on again tomorrow Sunday with soakage provided by the on site pizza maker! Enjoy.



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cornstore's Craft Beer and Food Month. A series of successful pairings

Craft Beer and Food Month at The Cornstore
A series of successful pairings.
Goat cheese starter
 For those who love good food and a good beer to go with it, Cork’s Cornstore is the place to be this month. The popular restaurant is running a Craft Beer and Food Menu every Wednesday and Thursday. I sampled it last week and can highly recommend it. The Menu is proving very popular so the advice is to book ahead.


They have put a lot of effort into the pairings and a beer (or cider) is suggested with each course. You can, of course, swap around to suit yourself. But we went with the suggested beers and found a series of successful pairings.
Ravioli
You have  a choice of five starters. I kicked off with the Porcini Mushroom Ravioli in a game broth with shredded duck leg and celeriac remoulade. This was a lovely dish on its own but, matched with O’Hara’s Curim, perhaps Ireland’s only wheat beer, it was even better, the object of the November exercise accomplished!

The Warm Goat's Cheese was recommended to us and, with poached fig and red pepper and tomato compote, it sure was a gem, But, matched with the flavoursome red ale, the Dungarvan Copper Coast, the balance was spot-on, the result perfectly delectable. 
Venison
Other starters included Crisp Pork Belly with Stonewell Medium Dry Cider, Chicken Wings with Trouble Brewing Sabotage IPA and Pan Seared Scallops with Eight Degrees Barefoot Bohemian. Check the full menu here.

Brown Bread was the unusual but excellent addition to the Wild Venison Stew, also with braised red cabbage and a wild mushroom dumpling. This earthy game dish, a wintery dark in the bowl, had a great complement in the black stout from Trouble Brewing called Dark Arts, an appropriate name indeed. A highly recommended dish!  
Steak
Trouble Brewing’s Sabotage IPA was one of the suggestions to go with the Aged Rib Eye Steak. Recommending it, the Cornstore said that it has a lovely bitter finish. “And really works well with our award winning steak rub and cuts through the little extra fat of the rib eye steak.” Very true indeed, a perfect alchemy of beer and boeuf, the steak served with mushroom and onion fricassee, a half roast plum tomato and pepper sauce.

Dessert and Beer? No problem to the taste team at the Cornstore. The Flourless Chocolate Cake, with fresh cream and raspberry coulis, is a luxury treat, some very expensive chocolate used here, and it was well matched with a small glass of the Franciscan Well Limited Edition Stout, aged in Jameson Whiskey Casks. The stout, a special treat, also doubled up well with the magnificent Cheese Board Selection (with fruit and crackers). 
And then what do you match with their Apple Dessert plate (mini apple crumble, apple sorbet and apple panna cotta)? Why, Stonewell Dry Cider, of course, the dry style of the Nohoval produced cider perfectly complementing the seasonal apple selection. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
Summer may be over
but that's no reason to
leave this cider gem on the shelf.
Well worth a try.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Look Back at Cahir Cider Celebration

A Look Back at Cahir Cider Celebration


I have to say that I was surprised and delighted with my trip to the Apple Farm in Cahir last weekend to visit the Slow Food Cider Festival. The big surprise was the sheer variety of styles and flavours of the ciders in the tasting tent. Just incredible, everything from dry to sweet and beyond (including that organic Traditional Medieval Honeyed Cider by Highbank Orchards).


I reckon they were all winners but on the day the judges decided on one and they awarded Best in Show to the, by now, well known and very well made Longueville House Cider, a 100% natural medium dry from their own orchards in Cork’s Blackwater Valley. Lots of people think you have to have ice in your cider but producer William O'Callaghan disagrees: “It is best drunk well chilled with no ice and is an ideal accompaniment to fish and meat”.


William, like many of the producers in Cahir, hasn't stopped with just one product. He was also showing his Apple Brandy (Calvados styled). And a very nice one too. This is really rich and mature and, in my opinion, not as fiery as some of its more famous counterparts from Normandy. He also makes liqueurs, must get my hands on some of those!


Longueville House is a busy spot and they have a few interesting events coming up:

  • 12th Annual Mushroom Hunt, Sunday 06th & 20th October 2013
  • Harvest Lunch & Cider Making Tour, Sunday 27th October 2013;
  • Girls Night Out in Style, Pre Christmas Shopping , 21st November 2013;
  • and don’t forget the New Year’s Eve Party!



Lisburn’s Tempted? were displaying their new snake logo and “4 tempting flavours”, including the lovely Strawberry that won Gold at the 2012 Irish Food Awards. But, this time, it was their dry cider that was voted Best in Show in that category. Reckon they'll be keeping the Snake. And maybe that Question Mark. Must admit I concentrated on the dry when I visited the MacIvor’s stand but it was their sweet that won the Best in Show in that category.


Great to meet up with Angus Craigie and Simon Tyrrell and taste their excellent cider, the Ballyhook Flier. Orpens and Keeved Cider’s Cockagee (not on general release yet) were other very enjoyable drops.


And then there was one with a difference from Kilmegan, their Wild Elderflower Infused Cider. Really gorgeous and worth a try if you come across it.


Had a terrific chat at the Highbank Orchard stand. Knew some of the products, including their limited edition Proper Cider and the multi-purpose Highbank Syrup. But the Medieval Cider was new to me as was their sweet cider. They are busy busy at Highbank Farm this month and have a day of family fun scheduled for the 29th. Click here for details.


The main focus was rightly on the cider producers but there were a few other stalls as well and, of course, the famed Apple Farm Shop was open. Great to meet up again with Sarah Grubb, husband and children at the Cashel Blue stand.


Amazing professionalism and a genuine courtesy to all as the couple managed to keep three young kids and a stream of interested callers happy. And we left here happy too with a small wedge of their Shepherd’s Store, a hard sheep cheese (you can't store the milk!) made during a good summer. It is a gorgeous cheese, with the trademark creaminess, and I'd advise you to get a wedge for yourself if you get the chance.


Did hear one or two complaints about the five euro (per car) parking charge, mainly because it wasn’t flagged in advance. Then again, there was a nice bonus (which I also hadn't known about). As you paid your seven euro entry fee to the Cider Tasting tent, a large bottle of a Con Traas cider special, called the Crow Black Chicken, a really nice dry cider, was presented to each punter.l

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cider Scope

Cider Fest at The Apple Farm in Cahir




 Looking for something to do this Sunday afternoon? Why not take a trip up to Cahir to the Cider Fest at the Apple Farm and sample some of the amazing ciders available, including the Longueville House, winner of the Best in Show in the presentation and taste category.







Friday, July 26, 2013

Tapas in the Greenroom

The Greenroom at Sage

Called down to Midleton last Tuesday evening to sample the food at the Greenroom, the new all day late night cafe under the ample wing of the adjacent Sage Restaurant. Spotted the 12 Mile Tapas board and immediately saw familiar producers of quality including Woodside Farm, Ardsallagh and Tom Clancy. Five tapas on the board, so we ordered all five.

Next question was what to drink. Easily answered by looking at the next board. Lots of local beers here and also Stonewell cider. Could hardly drink all the beers so settled for the Barefoot Bohemian Pilsner from Eight Degrees and two new Cork beers, both pale ales, the Mountain Man Green Bullet and the Kinsale Pale Ale, each dangerously drinkable!

The tapas are top class, all the dishes perfectly executed and, at seven euro each, very good value. Take the humble Organic courgette and apple fritters with dehydrated goat yoghurt. Didn’t sound the most promising of the five but the tangy yoghurt made the fritters sing.

The Organic baby carrot and Ardsallagh goat cheese with organic leaves and pickled beetroot was another successful combination of taste, colour, flavour and texture. While the cooking here is creative, the food is allowed to speak for itself and this was perhaps best illustrated by the Woodside mini Pork Pie with peas and gravy. The pork flavour and texture were incredible.

The monkfish, coated in the most delicate batter and served with crispy bacon and organic roast garlic aioli, was lyrically light, crunchy and gorgeous and probably CL’s favourite.

For me, the outstanding bite was the first one into those Thomas Clancy free range chicken livers with sourdough and salsa. Honest food so well handled all the way to the table.

The dessert, Red Velvet Cappuccino cake with Bailey’s Ice Cream, was so smooth and seemed designed to put us into a good mood. But, after those brilliant tapas, we were happily already in that zone!

All in all then,  honest food, flawlessly cooked, just perfect. And obviously widely appreciated as the Greenroom was more or less full.

Sage itself was also full. It has gained some extra seating and a different entrance (via the courtyard) after the recent building works that gave us the Greenroom. And the local producers are lauded here in Sage and not just on the tables. On one of the walls there is an excellent photo display of the producers going about their daily work. Well done to Kevin and Réidín for their dedication to their local suppliers!

While it is full steam ahead for Sage, the recently opened Greenroom too has been finding itself quite busy in these early days. It opens at nine and, during the morning, you can pop in for a freshly ground coffee and a freshly baked treat. At lunch time, you’ll have great choices of Salads and Sandwiches and, in the evening, the tapas come into their own.

The new Greenroom, they call it Sage’s little sister, is also proving useful for a pre-meal drink for those booked into Sage or maybe waiting for a table. And, when the sun shines, the courtyard outside is abuzz.

Greenroom details
Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 9:00 am - 11:00 pm.
Address: 8 Main St, Midleton, Co. Cork.
Phone: (021) 463 9682
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/www.sagerestaurant.ie

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Festival at Franciscan Well

The Franciscan Well Festival
Enjoyed my afternoon at the Franciscan Well Festival. Loads of choice with beers and cider from all over. The Festival continues tomorrow Sunday from 2.00pm. Get on down!
Top right: Yours truly and Caroline of 8 Degrees; bottom left: Ronan
Brennan of Galway Hooker and Daniel Emerson of Stonewell Cider.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Down and Dirty in the Cidery

Down and Dirty in the Cidery

2012 Apple Crop: the Elstar (normal size but scarce); Dabinett (plentiful enough but smaller than usual).

How do you know a real craft cider-maker?

Wait until September or October (or November, as I did) and check his hands. Has he got what looks like a false tan on the digits? If he has, that is the confirmation you need that he has handled tons of apples, the “tan” created by the tannins in the fruit.

And tannins weren’t the only link between cider and wine, as Stonewell’s Daniel Emerson explained to me in his base in Carrigaline this week. The press he uses is a wine press on hire from a French wine-maker who uses it for just two weeks each year whereas Stonewell use it for six months.

Stonewell have just moved much of the operation from the family home in nearby Nohoval. “The scale is very different here,” said Daniel as he surveyed his expensively assembled “production line”: the forklift, the wash tank, the mill, the maceration tank, the press and the four huge tanks where the cider is finished off.

New base for Daniel Emerson and his Stonewell cidery.
 It has been a year of progress for Daniel and Stonewell. “We sold more than we expected in 2012 and as a result our stocks of the 2011 are low.”

But it wasn’t the best of years for the apple crop of 2012, quite the reverse in fact. The eating apples (used mainly in the medium dry cider) blossomed abundantly in March only to be hammered by the frosts in April. That made them very scarce and expensive.

In the wash.
The bad summer led to a lack of pollination for the cider apples (varieties here are Michelin and Dabinett) and growth was slow. The supply is pretty good though and with the firm also securing a supply of Elstar eating apples, it is full steam ahead in Carrigaline.



There were some yellow Elstar in the system during my visit. They are first washed and then hand sorted before going through the mill and maceration stages. Next the mix, now known as a pomace, visits the presser where the juice is extracted and is then directed to the tanks.

 At the moment, Stonewell makes two types of cider: a medium dry and a dry. If the dry is too dry, they use apple juice rather than sugar to sweeten it. Both are for sale in many counties. Here is a list of stockists.



By the way, with the exception of the glass bottles, everything in a Stonewell cider is Irish – apples, labels, cartons, elbow grease, Atlantic sea air and all! “We don’t use any artificial sweeteners and we definitely don’t add any chemical additives to tweak the natural flavour of our cider.”

Considering the amazing impact the Nohoval cider has had in its short life, I was quite surprised to find such a small team sharing the workload: Daniel himself, his wife Geraldine, Ralph and Eamon, all dedicated to getting the very best out of those precious apples. The small Nohoval facility is not being abandoned and will be used to tweak the juices, both creative and fruit, to come up with a different cider. Watch this space.

For the third time in five days, it has been my privilege to meet people who are willing to take a chance on and in this country, to get down and get their hands dirty, to invest their time and money in giving us better food and better drink. Support them by buying local and buying Irish.