Friday, December 31, 2021

Beer of the Year 2021 - the short list!

Beer of the Year 2021

- the short list!


Not very short but shorter than it was! It is going to be a blanket finish. List below is in alphabetical order. Final result next week.


Cask-Aged Brehon Brewhouse Oak & Mirrors Two Stacks Whiskey Cask Aged Imperial Porter 

Dungarvan “Mahon Falls” Rye Pale Ale

Galway Bay NZ Pils Motueka Dry Hopped Pilsner

Hope “Limited Edition No 25“ Classic Gose

Mescan Brewery Old Brown

Western Herd Flora and Fauna 10 Hop DIPA

Whiplash “Melodie Noir” Baltic Porter 

Yellow Belly “Red Noir” Dark Red Ale


Thursday, December 30, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #84. On the craft journey with a session Whiplash, Porterhouse, Whitefield and Eight Degrees

 A Quart of Ale± #84

On the craft journey with an excellent session of Whiplash, Porterhouse, Whitefield and Eight Degrees

Whitefield Brewery “Woodville” Session Pale Ale 4.3%, 500ml bottle Bradleys

This pale ale from Tipperary has a light amber colour with a soft suds head that’s inclined to hand about a bit (the malt used may have something to do with that stability). There’s a lemony aroma with herbal notes and that “Mediterranean twist”. It is also found on the palate with a touch of green tea. Quite a flavoursome beer, nicely balanced with a little malt sweetness and the judicious use of the hops. An impressive session beer for sure.

For the Geek:

Hops: Styrian Fox (Slovenia).

Malt: Eraclea (Italy)

As you may know, the brewery formerly named White Gypsy has rebranded to Whitefield; the rebrand is still ongoing. Drawing all the names from their Templemore (County Tipperary) locality, even some of the beers have been renamed. This particular ale was Gladiator and is now named after a downland in Templemore.

Whiplash Blue Ghosts German Pils 5.2%, 440ml can Whiplash Online

Pale yellow is the colour of this German Pils from Whiplash who say: We’ve fermented Blue Ghosts on our favourite lager strain WLP833 - giving it all that great mouthfeel and malt complexity that the strain provides without interfering with that hop profile before allowing it the long cold sleep it deserves before packaging. …has fast become a team favourite. Grab it before we drink it all.

It is a clear beer with plenty of bubbles on view. The hops, Saaz and Hersbrucker, also bring something to the party and you’ll notice herbal hints, even grassy notes, along with the influence of Bergamot in both aromas and palate. They didn’t spare the hops using 10g/l of Saaz and Hersbrucker and say it is unique in that it is heavily whirlpool hopped, not dry hopped. Perfect for outdoors in the sun but not bad by the fireside either.

The Blue Ghosts are given some bodily heft by the use of Pilsner and Carapils malts. By the way, that yeast strain, WLP833, is regarded as ideal for German style lagers and that certainly seems to be the case here with yet another well executed beer, a really excellent lager, from the busy Whiplash team.


Porterhouse Rambler Juicy Pale Ale 4.6%, 440ml can O’Briens Wine

The Rambler has a light orange colour in the glass with a white head. “One for the juice heads,” say Porterhouse, based on the three hops used at whirlpool and hop. Well, it is juicy, moderately hoppy also, with a good dry finish.

The three hops added to the basic Magnum are: El Dorado (Apricot, tropical, citrus), Enigma (Grape, Berry, Melon), Eukanot (Mandarin, Melon, Mango). Their individual characteristics are in the brackets so you can see how they contribute to the result with a mild enough citrus and mango to the fore. 

Dextrin, Ale, Wheat, Oats, and Crystal keep the malt end up, noticeable in the fuller body and a touch of caramel. Quite a delicious and easy drinking fruity ale to be fair, well made, and worth a try for sure.

Eight Degrees Full Irish Single Malt IPA 6.0%, 440 ml can

Gold, with an amber streak, is the colour of this Single Malt from Eight Degrees. Like the “Full Irish”, this has everything!

A lovely white head that sinks away, eventually. Lots of citrus-y aromas (grapefruit, mango ) from the four strong team of All-American hops (Amarillo, Citra, Simcoe and Cascade), floral notes too. And hops galore on the palate but not having it all their own way as the pale malt finds ways of having its biscuity say as the juice flows across. And it is bitterness and sweetness in lockstep that take you through to the end of the aftertaste, ready to go again. Not surprised that this hoppy fruit bomb has a string of awards to its credit.

Geek Bits

Style: Single malt IPA
Malt: 100% Irish pale malt
Hops: Simcoe, Cascade, Citra, Amarillo
Strength: 6.0% ABV
Bitterness: 65 IBUs

Food pairings
This single malt ale will pair beautifully with simple grilled fish and barbecued chicken kebabs, the sweet malt flavours working well with anything that’s been caramelised on the grill. Don’t miss an opportunity to try it with something spicier, like barbecued piri-piri prawns and it is also an exceptionally good match with smoked duck, the hops cutting through the rich meat. To finish, get a slice of carrot cake alongside a glass of this and revel in how the beer balances out the cake’s sweetness.


Christmas Eve Walk: Mayfield via Old Youghal Road to Bells Field to Wellington Road to Mayfield.

Walk from Mayfield via Old Youghal Road to Bells Field to Wellington Road to St Luke's to Montenotte via Lower Glanmire Road and back to Mayfield.

Pics taken: Christmas Eve 2021

Don't think the cat is saying: Happy Christmas!

An older entrance at Collins Barracks. You may enter the Military Museum by
taking the steps (hidden by the concrete structure) by the white car on the left.

The North Cathedral, with the church in Gurranabraher high on the right

North Cathedral, from Old Youghal Road.

Shandon tower and North Cathedral, from Bells Field.

St Anne's Shandon, with St Vincent's (Sunday's Well) in the background

St Anne's Shandon, with County Hall in left background.

St Anne's Shandon

Short video of Cork's Northside
A message to last into 2022 from Scoil Bernadette, Cope Foundation, Middle Glanmire Rd, Cork 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Taste of the Christmas Week. Ballymaloe Foods Cranberry and Mór Gin Sauce

Taste of the Christmas Week. 

Ballymaloe Foods Cranberry and Mór Gin Sauce

Little Island based

Ballymaloe Foods came up with a Christmas table winner with their Cranberry
and Mór Wild Berry Gin Cranberry Sauce. It certainly did what it says on the jar and enhanced the turkey (and the other meats) no end and also impressed when used with the cheese board. This blend of cranberries and the Irish gin proved indispensable and is our Taste of the Week.

No surprise really that the partnership between the Cork firm and the County Offaly distillery came up trumps as one of the botanicals used in the gin is, yes, cranberries! It is billed on the jar as a "Limited Edition Sauce"; hopefully it will be around for the long term!

Little Island Walk 23rd December 2021

 Little Island Walk 23rd December 2021

Á contre soleil. Pic taken on Little Island looking across the River Lee as it loses itself in the salt-water of the large harbour. Taken, just after a tame shower, against the light, so not as threatening as it seems and there were no immediate nasty weather developments. 

The Fota Folly. Ireland has quite a few of these follies, usually built by aristocrats who had money to spare and often more cents than sense. Some of the efforts looked well but many had no useful purpose whatsoever. In this case though, report that the Smith Barrys, who owned nearby Fota House, holidayed in the tower which had its own little harbour and boathouse. 

A lot of old rope. Flotsam, I presume, rather than jetsam!

Puffballs are fungi, according to Wikipedia, so named because clouds of brown dust-like spores are emitted when the mature fruitbody bursts or is impacted (or pressed gently with a little stick as you can see below). Can't remember seeing these with a long time until this walk in the island but, less than a week later, I came across another group
in the grounds of Blarney Castle.

A little ruin, close to the foreshore at the Fota side of the island.

A Quart of Ale± #83. On the craft journey with a session of Treaty City, Third Circle, Brehon Brewhouse, Eight Degrees

 A Quart of Ale± #83

On the craft journey with a session of Treaty City, Third Circle, Brehon Brewhouse, Eight Degrees

Treaty City Harris Pale Ale 5.0%, 440ml can O’Briens Wine

Named after Limerick’s most famous film-star, this Pale Ale has a lovely golden amber colour with a soft white head. Aromas are mostly citrus, some floral notes and a modest touch of pine. And it proves itself hop-forward and impressively well-balanced on the palate and beyond. Again the citrus (grapefruit) features strongly in the mouth and so too does the malt. And the combination also provides a very satisfactory finish indeed.

Treaty City, the brew/pub is close to King John’s Castle, say: Treaty City Brewery started in a small two bedroomed apartment in East Vancouver, Canada. After a long night of general debauchery, plenty of merriment and many bottles of bland tasteless beer, we decided enough was enough. Something had to be done. Life was too short to drink bad beer. The next morning, while nursing a spectacular hangover we headed for the local homebrew store and purchased our very first brewing equipment….. 

Soon they were brewing at home and not too long after that they found the real home was calling and, back in the Treaty City, they carried on brewing!

The Harris Pale Ale (suitable for vegans by the way) is one of the brewery’s first and is named after Richard Harris, swashbuckling on and off the screen and a man who appreciated a good drink. He performed in a huge variety of films over a number of decades including The Guns of Navarone (1961), The Field (1990) and Gladiator (2000).

Third Circle Shot In The Dark Coffee & Oatmeal Stout 5.2%, 330ml can Bradleys

About as black as can be, with a soft tanned head that doesn’t rush to depart. Probably more coffee than toffee in the aromas. And the coffee is much the flavour on the palate though caramel gets a look in as well. Pretty smooth also thanks to the oatmeal. Not to sure though that it will wake you up in the morning, might work around lunchtime though. Good but not quite in the Dungarvan league - yet!

They say: “Rich smooth decadent coffee oatmeal stout brewed with the perfect blend of Irish malt and single fair trade coffee.This beer is pure breakfast juice. We teamed up with our local coffee roaster to bring you this beautifully smooth coffee and oatmeal stout. Brewed with oats for that creamy and silky base and then infused with single origin Columbian coffee which gives beautiful aromas of sweet chocolate, brown sugar and black tea. This beer will wake you up!”

Who are Third Circle? Like many great breweries, the foundations of Third Circle lie in homebrewing. Wicklow based Scientist Jon Grennan developed a love and passion for brewing at home while working as a biologist. Third Circle beers are now crafted in Dublin, where Jon's love for both precision and experimentation are feeding the creation of some exciting new brews. 

The company's core beliefs are simple: brew with balance, good taste and curiosity. Third Barrel Brewery was founded in Bluebell Avenue, Dublin 12 in collaboration with friends at Stone Barrel Brewing. 

Brehon Brewhouse Shanco Dubh Porter 8.8%, 500ml bottle Bradleys 

This is a strong and powerful ale that absorbs distinct spirit notes from time spent ageing in old oak whiskey casks. A beer for sipping and relishing. Best served around eight degrees.

It is black for sure with a tan head that doesn’t really hang about. This bottle conditioned beer has robust aromatic notes of dark chocolate, roasted malt and liquorice, plus herbal hints. More of the chocolate on the palate. Full bodied with prominent roasted elements and moderate (yet definite) whiskey notes. And that elegant whiskey contribution takes us right through to the very satisfactory finish with a pleasing sweetness. 

This porter goes exceptionally well with meat and cheese dishes. Which ties in, more or less, with the Beer Club recommendations of smoked meats, oysters, game or extra mature cheddar cheese. 

No shortage of cask-aged at Brehon and this is another excellent one, yet my favourite, by a small margin, remains the Oak & Mirrors.

Eight Degrees Citra Single Hop IPA 5.7%, 440ml can

Mid-gold is the colour of this Citra Single Hop from Eight Degrees, the adventurous brewery. It’s got a white bubbly head. Aromas are, surprise, surprise, citrus with a floral touch as well. The combined fruit flavours come out to play on the juicy palate and you’ll note peach, melon, lime, gooseberry, passion fruit and lychee in the mix with the malt on display. It’s a refreshing beer, with a nicely judged bitter finish. 

Another excellent can in the Mitchelstown portfolio proving, not for the first time, that Citra is more than capable of sustaining a solo run.

They say: Citra, with its fruity, juicy aroma and flavour, is one of our favourite hops. To showcase it, we’ve used a simple, yet elegant, malt body …. This is a beer that is both sweet and tart, with a gloriously juicy mouthfeel.

Geek Bits
2020 World Beer Awards – Gold
2019 World Beer Awards – Gold

Style: Single hop IPA
Malt: Irish pale ale malt
Hops: Citra, Citra and…Citra!
Strength: 5.7% ABV
Bitterness: 62 IBUs

Food pairings:
The bitterness in this Citra Single Hop IPA will cut beautifully through sweet low-and-slow pulled pork served with a chilli-spiked peach relish. The beer also will counterbalance the bold flavours of barbecued chicken wings and play nicely with some grilled spicy fresh Gubbeen chorizo sausages. Try it with a not-too-sweet Key Lime pie for a full-on citrus ending to your meal.

Thursday, December 23, 2021



Xavier and Lorraine McAuliffe, owners of Lyrath Estate in Kilkenny chat to Rachael Blackmore, Lyrath Estate Ambassador, as the champion jockey reflects on a phenomenal year in the saddle.  The 32-year-old Tipperary native was just crowned BBC's World Sport Star of the Year just twenty-four hours after winning the 2021 RTÉ Sportsperson of the Year Award. She also won the HRI Irish Racing Hero Award and The Irish Times Sportswoman of the Year.

The team at the five-star Lyrath Estate in Kilkenny were delighted to invite their ambassador, jockey Rachael Blackmore to the hotel to celebrate her incredible success after she won, not one but four incredible sporting awards in December alone. The 32-year-old Tipperary native was crowned BBC's World Sport Star of the Year just twenty-four hours after winning the 2021 RTÉ Sportsperson of the Year Award. She also won the HRI Irish Racing Hero Award and The Irish Times Sportswoman of the Year.

Blackmore became the first woman to be crowned leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival where she saddled six winners, which included the Champion Hurdle on her mount, Honeysuckle. In April she steered Minella Times to victory in the Grand National, making her the first woman ever to win the world's greatest steeplechase.

Rachael Blackmore has been an ambassador for Lyrath Estate in Kilkenny since 2021 and is a regular visitor to the property. The estate owner, Xavier McAuliffe said, “Huge congratulations to Rachael, she is a phenomenal talent and one of the hardest working people I know.  No one deserves these accolades as much as she does. She is an inspiration for everyone and particularly young women and girls.  We are incredibly lucky and proud to be working with her and wish her continued success in her career”.

press release

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Beer of the Year 2021 - the long list!

 Beer of the Year 2021 - the list!

Brehon Brewhouse Oak & Mirrors Two Stacks Whiskey Cask Aged Imperial Porter 7.5%

Dungarvan “Mahon Falls” Rye Pale Ale

Eight Degrees “The Pilgrim’s Path” Lager

Eight Degrees Irish Oak-aged Barleywine 12.2%

Galway Bay NZ Pils Motueka Dry Hopped Pilsner

Heaney New England IPA

Hope “Limited Edition No 25“ Classic Gose

Land & Labour Crimson Kriek Framboise

Lineman “Vesper" Pale Ale

Mescan Brewery Old Brown

O’Hara’s Irish Stout Nitro

Trouble Brewing Lights Out DIPA

Western Herd Flora and Fauna 10 Hop DIPA
Whiplash “Melodie Noir” Baltic Porter

Yellow Belly “Red Noir” Dark Red Ale

- Will be "working" on this long list of my favourite beers in 2021 over the Christmas break. Soon, a short list will be published and then my champ!

Will also name a selection across the various style.

December (short list)

Coffee and Oatmeal Stout: Dungarvan

Cask-Aged: Brehon Brewhouse Oak & Mirrors Two Stacks Whiskey Cask Aged Imperial Porter 7.5%

Porter: Whiplash The Sup

Session: Eight Degrees Seisíun IPA 4.5%

Rauchbier: Kinnegar 20÷2 Anniversary Rauchbier 5%

Barleywine: Eight Degrees Irish Oak-aged Barleywine 12.2%


press release

Irish Distillers, makers of some of the world’s most enjoyed whiskeys, is celebrating yet another outstanding awards season after being honoured with 183 individual medals from the world’s leading taste and design competitions in 2021. The impressive haul of medals, an increase of 11 medals versus 2020, includes several of the top accolades in the Irish Whiskey Category for the distillers’ diverse portfolio.

Testament to the quality and craftsmanship of the world’s best loved Irish whiskey, Jameson Irish Whiskey, which enjoyed sales of 8.6 million cases globally in 2020/2021, was awarded a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and Gold at the International Spirits Challenge. 

Jameson Black Barrel, achieved recognition across the board, taking home Gold Outstanding (98 points) at the International Wine and Spirit Competition and winning the overall trophy for Best Irish Whiskey at the International Spirits Challenge, while Jameson Bow Street 18 Years achieved a Platinum Medal (96 points) at the Beverage Tasting Institute.  

Redbreast continued its legacy as the world’s most decorated single pot still Irish whiskey, securing 29 medals of Gold and above, including a Platinum Medal and a top score of 100, for Redbreast 27 Year Old from the Beverage Tasting Institute.

Master Distiller Kevin O'Gorman

 Redbreast also won the coveted Chairman’s Trophy (98 points) for its much-acclaimed 12 Year Old Cask Strength. Elsewhere, the Redbreast range collected six Master medals at The Irish Whiskey Masters, while Redbreast 21 Year Old was crowned the World’s Best Pot Still at the World Whisky Awards.  

Further reinforcing Midleton Very Rare’s standing as the pinnacle of Irish whiskey, Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaleach Knockrath Forest was awarded a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and named the Best Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey. The range’s only permanent expression, Midleton Very Rare Barry Crockett Legacy, also achieved high praise including Gold Outstanding (98 points) at the International Wine & Spirits Competition.

The innovative and exemplary whiskeys produced by hand at Midleton’s Micro Distillery were also recognised with the METHOD AND MADNESS collection winning five Double Golds at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and two Master Medals at the Irish Whiskey Masters – the highest accolade at the competition.

The iconic Powers collection, which celebrated its 230th anniversary this year, was recognised by a multitude of award bodies for both its distinctive distillate flavour and bold design. Powers Three Swallow and Powers John’s Lane both achieved Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, while John’s Lane also took home a Design & Packaging Master following the brand’s bold redesign, which was described by judges as eye-catching and prominent.

Last but not least, the return of Blue Spot to the historic Spot Family was warmly received by judges across the globe, winning five Gold medals and above and a prestigious spot in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge Top 100 Spirits list. The other expressions in the range were equally decorated, including a Double Gold for Green Spot at the San Francisco Spirits Competition, Gold for Red Spot at the International Spirits Challenge and a Master for Yellow Spot at the Irish Whiskey Masters.

Commenting on the success of the 2021 awards season, Kevin O’Gorman, Master Distiller at Irish Distillers, says: “It has been another tremendous season across the portfolio, and we are beyond proud to see so many of our whiskeys securing several of the top accolades in the Irish Whiskey Category.

“The Jameson family continues to excite and delight whiskey fans across the globe with its smooth taste and signature DNA, while our prestige portfolio continues to solidify Irish Whiskey’s standing as a luxury spirit on the world stage.

“These awards demonstrate the dynamism of the category – from reimagined heritage brands such as The Spot Range and Powers – to innovative whiskeys from Redbreast, to METHOD AND MADNESS with distillate experimentation such as Rye and Malt and our Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaleach series, which showcase wood experimentation and maturation.

“These achievements are a testament to my colleagues at Midleton Distillery who work tirelessly to apply their knowledge and passion to produce whiskeys of unrivaled quality.”

A Covid Confused Year Yet Chefs Come Up With Amazing Dishes

 A Covid Confused Year Yett Chefs Come Up With Amazing Dishes