Monday, June 24, 2024

On the craft trail with Knockboy, Larkin's and Boundary

On the craft trail with Downtime, Larkin's and Boundary


Knockboy Mountain IPA 5.1% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

East Coast meets West with both pine and fruity aromas.

This Knockboy Mountain Pale Ale is pale and hazy with a soft white head. Pine heads up the moderate aromas, with citrus also featuring. A low bitterness count but the hops still stand out and that pine again emerges on the juicy and refreshing palate. A decent drop indeed and Highly Recommended.

It is brewed by Downtime Brewing (at Third Barrel Brewing ) who tell us the carbon produced in making this beer has been offset by planting native Irish trees. Just wonder if any were planted in Knockboy which is the highest part of the River Lee on the mountains of the Cork / Kerry border.

Geek Bits

The hops are Mosaic, Citra, Simcoe and Cascade. The first three are also used in the double dry hopping at the end.

Malts used are Extra Pale Malt, Wheat and Flaked Oats.

Vermont Yeast is another ingredient.

Downtime was established in 2023.


Larkin’s Pale Ale 4.5% ABV, 440 ml can Carry Out Wexford

It is a pale ale and pale gold is the colour with a foamy white head and posses of bubbles racing towards the top. Aromas are on the citrus side. The palate has a good backbone from the hops and citrus continues to make an impact.

Bitterness is on the low side in this refreshing easy-drinking beer. Highly Recommended.

Hops: Cascade, Centennial, Mosaic, Citra.


Boundary I Know The Difference Belgian Pale Ale 4.5% ABV, 440 ml can O’Briens Wine

Very pale gold with a soft white head. Aromas are mild, herbal and slightly spicy. On the palate it is fruity, dry and refreshing. Not very bitter at all. This beer, a Belgian Pale Ale the brewers call it, is not too far away from lagers and pilseners, the kind of beers in which the Saaz hops are regularly used.

There is a minimalist description of the beer on Boundary’s social media. I’m not too sure I would call it Belgian though. 

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Pergola Roses Shine in Blarney Castle Gardens

Pergola Roses Shine in Blarney Castle Gardens

Pics June 19th 2024

Sun lover

Picnic time!


Carnivorous (and below)

Lebanese cedar

Eternal Ascent by Blessing Sanyanga

Red seat

Sitka spruce tree (Picea sitchensis) is the highest tree our estate, 

measuring approximately 45 metres/145 teet in height.

Friday, June 21, 2024

Tenuta Bellafonte Pomontino Montefalco Rosso, an excellent blend of Sangiovese and Sagrantino

Tenuta Bellafonte Pomontino Montefalco Rosso (DOC) 2019, 13% ABV 

RRP: €22.95. Stockists: 64 Wine, Greenman Wines, Bradleys Cork, Le Caveau online

An excellent blend of Sangiovese and Sagrantino from Umbria.

This Montefalco Rosso from the centre of Italy has a mid-ruby colour. The nose is inviting and elegant with cherry, smaller red fruit and a touch of sweet spice. Elegant also on the palate with a noticeable and immediate impact of the lively acidity. Fine tannins present also and the finish is long and very pleasing.

Very Highly Recommended. 

Pomontino is obtained thanks to carefully vinifying whole berries that ferment spontaneously. The vineyards are about 15 years old. The wine is aged for at least one year in large Slavonian oak casks before refining in bottle for about 6 months. Native yeasts are used and the wine is unfiltered. Production from the 2019 vintage came to 17,600 bottles (ref: label).

This excellent blend of Sangiovese and Sagrantino hails not from Tuscany but from neighbouring Umbria.  Tenuta Bellafonte is located in the heart of the most unspoilt part, not far from Bevagna, near the beautiful village of Torre del Colle, surrounded by rolling hills where woodlands give way to orderly vineyards and olive trees. The South-Eastern exposure, the mix of clay, marl and rocky soils are ideal for producing quality wine.

Owner Peter Heilbron left the boardrooms of the corporate world in 2007 to go into wine with his wife Sabina. Heilbron shuns chemical fertilisers, herbicides and insecticides, using seaweed and plant extracts as a kind of vine homoeopathy. He hasn't pursued organic certification though.

Sangiovese has long been grown here but has always had a blending partner. This custom led to today's production specification rules: other grapes can be added, in addition to Sangiovese including Sagrantino (maximum 20%). Within that, it is entirely up to the winemaker and dictated only by the style he seeks from his wine.

The vast majority of Sangiovese is grown in Italy. But it has many names here including Rosso di Montalcino, Carmignano, Morellino di Scansano, Rosso Conero, Torgiano Rosso and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. I promised you’d meet some of them in this series and our Montefalco Ross is one of them!

Sangiovese has high acidity and as a result, matches well with “all manner of spicy foods”, according to Wine Folly who concludes “it will not get lost when paired with tomato sauce.” Serve at 16° - 18°C.

  • This post is part of a series on Italian wines made from native grapes and produced by usually small or medium-sized organic wineries. Taking some “guidance” here from the recently published VINO. Mightn’t always net the hat trick but hope to score two from the three each time. I have quite a few lined up but I’m happy to consider any suggestions or help. #OrganicItaly

Thursday, June 20, 2024

On the Craft Trail with Hopfully, Eight Degrees, Kildare Brewing and Chouffe

On the Craft Trail with Hopfully, Eight Degrees, Kildare Brewing and Chouffe.

Hopfully Eyecatcher Session Pale Ale, 4.8% ABV, 440 ml can 


Hopfully welcome a new brewer and a new beer.

Pale orange, close to lemon, is the colour of this session ale by Hopfully. It is also hazy as might expect from a New England style. Juicy stuff on the palate where exotic fruits lead the way before a dry and slightly tart finish. Easy drinking and highly recommended.

Hopfully welcome the new beer: “Our newest addition to the core range, Eyecatcher, tastes like summer. This New England Session Pale Ale has an approachable 4.8% ABV, a hazy body, high drinkability, and loads of tropical fruit juiciness. Expect notes of mango and pineapple, a hint of herbal flavour, and a dry, lightly bitter finish.”

They’ve also welcomed Oliver McAdam a new senior brewer to their brewery in Waterford. 

Oliver is from Liverpool but his brewing journey began over 10 years ago while living in Brazil. It was in 2019 when he took the plunge to take on brewing as a full-time profession.

"I love all things beer, from big hazy pales, thicccc impy stouts, to crushable crispy bois (lagers). But I do hold a special passion for big Belgian styles and Saisons, so keep an eye out for some exciting things coming out in a near future. Excited for what we have in stall at Hopfully and to be part of Ireland's ever growing craft beer scene.”

Geeky Bits:

Style: Session Pale Ale

Hops: Azacca, Mosaic and Ekuanot

Malts: IPA Malt, Pale Malt, Vienna, wheat and oats.

Artwork: Pipe and Pallet

Brewed: Waterford

ABC: 4.8%


Eight Degrees The Crux Double IPA 7.7% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

Embrace The Crux and the Pacific hops. "A little beauty".

Our double IPA from a restored Eight Degrees has a golden/amber colour, slightly hazy, and a soft white head. Citrus aromas from the Pacific hops are a welcome variation on the familiar all-American theme. Lots of fruit, love that mango hit and the citrus, grapefruit and lime wake you up, catch your attention and you say to yourself “you little beauty”. As with most little beauties, don’t rush this one with its 7.7% punch in amongst all that citrus from the Pacific fields.

Now my own crux looms. Decisions. Decisions. Will I have another? What crux? The crux only arises if you have no Crux. Very Highly Recommended.

The hops used are Amarillo and Motueka. The first, from Washington state, is known for its citrus flavours and aromas and Eight Degrees applied it in the kettle. For the dry-hop, they turned to Motueka, from New Zealand with its distinctive fresh crushed citrus, its lively lemon and lime tones with background hints of tropical fruit. The Mitchelstown crew got the best from both in Crux.

The brewery is happy to have this one out in the world and “drinking very nicely” indeed: “Lots of ripe stone fruit, sweet mango and a deliciously bitter twist of grapefruit and lime coming through towards the end.”

Food Matches: The Crux Double IPA plays well with smoke, bringing lots of tropical fruit to the party. Big and bold, these flavours will complement the rich flavours of smoked beef brisket or smoked pulled barbecued jackfruit for a summer’s day lunch in the sunshine. Use the grapefruit and lime bitterness to contrast with a great Irish farmhouse blue cheese: we’re unashamed fans of our local Cashel Blue, the older and funkier the better. For something a little more subtle, pair the beer with a crème brûlée – perhaps one flavoured with orange and cardamom – taking full advantage of those boozy notes to cut through the creamy dessert.


Kildare Brewing Lager 4.3% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

"the pinnacle of our brewing expertise"

Don’t you just love it when a beer behaves as it should? Clean golden colour, bubbles streaming incessantly towards the soft white top. And those malty hints in the aromas. Malt also on the palate with a modest hint of sweetness and a refreshing finish at the end. We are talking lager here and the obliging beer in question is produced by Kildare Brewing.

The young Kildare brewery is delighted with this lager, calling it “the pinnacle of our brewing expertise”.  It is indeed clean, crisp, and simple. No surprise that it is their most popular beer. A light malt flavour and Noble German hops combine well here. It is filtered to perfection and is lager at its most refreshing. Try with chicken, pork and salads. Highly Recommended.

Or with a meal at the family-friendly gastropub, Lock 13, that overlooks the charming Grand Canal. In Poland, the Flanagans spotted quite a few microbreweries attached to small pubs. 

They began to dream and, for Barry (the Kildare brewer) and Ola Flanagan, it became a reality in 2017, when they started Kildare’s first brewpub. Here they produce a range of craft beers using locally sourced roasted barley and malt. Barry is a qualified beer sommelier and expertly pairs their craft beers with the restaurant dishes.

They hold Brewery Tours every Saturday and Sunday so “do come check out behind the scenes by booking a day tour here.  

Chouffe Cherry 8.00% ABV, 330 ml bottle, No 21

Had been keeping my Cherry Chouffe for a real fine day and that arrived at the weekend, along with a box of Wexford strawberries. And, since Couffe recommended “almonds, raspberries, cherries and strawberries” to pair with the beer, you know what happened in the back garden.

This Cheery beer is fruity, rounded and strong and a Belgian classic. It is, of course, quite strong, so be sure and sip. Fruity notes (mostly cherry!) in the aromas. It is soft on the palate with cherry flavours of course and has a satisfying finish with a tart streak.

I enjoyed the beer (and the strawberries) and I always enjoy visiting the Chouffe website - they enjoy a laugh. Check it out yourself here 

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Wexford: A 48-hour visit

Wexford: A 48-hour visit 

Cuan Aingeal. A remembrance garden for children who have died in tragic circumstances

Arriving in Wexford around lunchtime on Thursday, we immediately headed for La Vista, the restaurant with a view and pretty decent food also, nestled in the renovated Opera House. Took in those views over the city and estuary and, suitably refreshed, headed down to Kilmore Quay with its

Taste of the Week. Tuna Poké Bowl by Maki Sushi.

Tuna Poké Bowl

Taste of the Week. 

Tuna Poké Bowl by Maki Sushi

Back to the English Market for this Taste of the Week, an amazing Tuna Poké Bowl by Maki Sushi. Full title is Ahi Tuna Bowl and it consists of Fresh Tuna, Mango, Avocado Wakame, Edamame and House Poké Dressing on a base of cold sushi rice (cold as we were taking it home). 

The other Fish Bowls are California (Crab), Atlantic Salmon and Spicy Prawn. There is also a Tofu Bowl and a Chicken Teriyaki. In addition, you can also build your own bowl - just choose what you want at each stage (warm rice or cold sushi rice as base, your garnish, your sauce, etc)  and let your server know. All bowls come in two sizes.

Poké (pronounced po-kay) is a Hawaiian inspired food and the name translates to diced fish. It originated on the fishing boats in Hawaii where local fisherman sliced up their daily catch and served it on the boats with a bowl of rice.

See more on the Maki Sushi site here and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 18, 2024



Fiona Tierney "Lady Fi" and Jorge Kachmari of the Underscore Orchestra.  Pic: Brian Lougheed

New York Brass Band, The Swing Cats and Harry Connolly on the bill

Dual Dine and Swing options too

The Metropole Hotel, original home of the Cork Jazz Festival, will once again play

Guinness with Timmermans Lambic & Stout. Beer Of The Week Exceptional as you might expect from five centuries of brewing heritage

Beer Of The Week

Exceptional beer as you might expect from five centuries of heritage

Guinness with Timmermans Lambic & Stout 6% ABV, 37.5 cl bottle, Carry Out Wexford

Blended and bottled in Belgium, this Lambic & Stout is a terrific drink. It is a blend of three beers: the Guinness West Indies Porter (1801), Guinness Special Export (first brewed in 1944 exclusively for John Martin) and Timmermans Oude Kriek (from the world’s

Journey Through Time: A Glimpse into Johnstown Castle's Upstairs Downstairs.

 Journey Through Time: 

A Glimpse into Johnstown Castle's Upstairs Downstairs.

Ready for dinner? Ashworth Soup Tureen

Johnstown Castle in Wexford isn't just a historic landmark; it's a time capsule whispering tales of bygone eras. My recent visit, fueled by a curiosity sparked by a €7.5 million renovation project, was an eye-opening adventure into Ireland's rich past.

A food safe was quite common, usually made of timber

 with a tight mesh over the front to deter flies and so on 

and was often hung on outside walls. 

A Glimpse into Gilded Age Gastronomy

Imagine a lavish feast fit for royalty. Our journey begins with a

Monday, June 17, 2024

Try it with Florentine Steak, rare of course. Poggiotondo Terre di Cresci Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2021

Poggiotondo Terre di Cresci Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2021, 14.5% ABV

RRP €30.95. Stockists: Blackrock Cellar,

Try it with Florentine Steak, rare of course

Our latest Chianti Classico has a vibrant garnet colour. Black cherries and plums, floral notes and spice may also be detected in the aromatics. Spice and fruit on the palate are matched by the lively acidity as the elegant delightful