A Quart of Ale± #79. A craft session of Brehon & Hopfully with cider from Stonewell & Mac Ivors.

A Quart of Ale± #79

On the craft journey with a session of Brehon and Hopfully and cider from Stonewell and Mac Ivors.






Stonewell Cask Irish Craft Cider 9.5% abv, 75cl bottle Bradleys


“It’s not often that one gets to indulge in two of one’s passions, for me that’s cider and whiskey,” says Daniel Emerson as he introduced his latest cider.


“I have added cider for 6 months in fresh whiskey barrels, kindly lent to us from a distillery in East Cork, then blended it with a select bittersweet ferment to create this woody tannic cider with whiskey overtones. It is effervescent, opulent, viscous and rich in character, but not for the faint-hearted.”


The amber colour is that bit darker than normal. Aromas are of moderate intensity but very much of the orchard. The whiskey cask makes its presence felt on the palate, adding a slight toasty flavour. It is smooth and delightful, with a bitter-sweet finalé, an amazing amalgam of the orchards, the cidery and the distillery. Very Highly Recommended (unanimous here - not always the case!). Go get it!


The Stonewall and Nohoval listing already contains quite a few innovative ciders from Daniel and wife Geraldine. As they say themselves, it takes courage to only use apple juice to make cider and more courage to take it a step further as they have done here. Their apples come from orchards in Waterford, Tipperary and Laois.


Starting this year, when you buy a bottle of Stonewell Cider, Stonewell will make a donation to the Irish Bee Conservation Project (IBCP).


These funds will go towards the general activities of the organisation, including the creation of pollinator trails, the construction of bee lodges and raising awareness of the plight of the Irish Bee species. 


Mac Ivors Traditional Dry Cider 5.6%, 50cl bottle Bradleys


Mac Ivors, inspired by the aromatic ciders of Northern France, made this Traditional Dry Cider, an elegant blend of over ten different apple varieties. “Our crisp Armagh Bramley apples balance the fragrant flavours of traditional dessert apples and bittersweet cider apples, giving a deep and dry cider style.”


It is a much lighter colour, as you’d expect, than the Stonewell. Aromas are yeasty, a little sourness there. And on the palate it has deep apple flavours (thanks to the slow, cool fermentation), and is dry with a lip-smacking finish. One tarty tipple for sure, the tannins drying those lips.


They also do a Medium Cider, a Plum & Ginger, a White Reserve Cider, a Non Alcoholic version, and a Juicy Session Cider.


Armagh is well known as “The Orchard County”. It is here that Mac Ivors Cider has its roots.

“Our farm was established in 1855 in the townland of Ardress. Our cider takes its name from our Cider Maker, Greg Mac Neice’s grandmother Annie Mac Ivor.

Annie, her husband Matt Mac Neice and their nine children had a passion for apple growing. Her son Sam and her grandson Greg continue that tradition, farming over 100 acres of prime Armagh orchard, packing and processing the apples grown and now making great craft cider too!”

The 2013 Cider Celebration was held at the Apple Farm in Cahir and a great day it was too with cider makers from all over the country displaying their produce! Good day for Mac Ivors as their sweet won the Best in Show in that category. Would love to see that Celebration revived!.



Brehon Brewhouse Ulster Black Oatmeal Stout 5.0%, 440 can Bradleys


Beware The McMahons”
It wasn’t the Vikings you had to fear, it was the McMahons. Or at least that’s how they tell it in this part of Ulster. We were the notorious ruling clan for centuries, raiding the Pale for whiskey and beer. These days, we brew our own….. once we’ve finished milking the cows. Always ready for a quiet pint.”


And this Ulster Black Oatmeal Stout is a winner. At least, it was my favourite beer in 2020 and this current version smells and tastes just as good. It is not be hid under a bushel; it is a star in this particular firmament. 


Black as a wet sod after a rainy week in the bog. The fleeting head has some of the colour of a well-dried sod. Aromas also from the dark side: coffee and dark chocolate. And that theme continues on the palate. 


But it is not exactly like other oatmeal stouts, not over-rich. There is a balance, a harmony, that lifts this toasty stout well above the normal. All before a lip-smacking finish. Try it out for yourself! Best served around 8 to 10 degrees. That’s more or less what I wrote last year. No need to change much, I’m delighted to say.


They say: “A sweet, toasty Oatmeal Stout with a dark chocolate and coffee finish. Bottle conditioned with strong notes of dark chocolate, roasted malt and liquorice. Hopped with magnum.  Full bodied and full of flavour, this cozy stout always hits the spot. Ideal with game or strong red meat, smoked meats and hearty stews. Also great with desserts such as chocolate, caramel or dark fruits.”


Hopfully Tangerina  DIPA 8.5%, 440 can Bradleys


“Here’s our new and ‘very limited’ edition small-batch brew, Tangerina Double IPA 8.5%,” said Hopfully back in September.


It has a slight murky orange colour and the white head doesn’t last too long at all (despite the fact that Dextrin is one of the malts used). It is packed with “a gorgeous amount of whole tangerine purée” and you do get it in the aromas. And very much so on the palate, thanks to the addition of the purée. And then it seems to fade out at that - just wondering if that addition was over-generous. Tangerine for sure so it does what it says on the tin. Dry at the end.


The label names the malts; Pale, Oats, wheat, Vienna and Dextrin. “Drink fresh - do not age.” Hops are Simcoe, Cascade and Centennial hops into the whirlpool and “dry-hopped this beauty with Citra, Galaxy, Simcoe, and Centennial”. 


This artwork is a master piece by @staselejakunskaite and is part of her SWAP project in which parts of common images or situations are swapped with each other creating new somehow unusual and surprising senses and ideas. Staselė is a Lithuanian visual artist and illustrator working in fields of conceptual illustration, advertising, publishing, indie print projects, and murals. 

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