CorkBillyBeers #6 .Craft Stout with Galway Bay, Heaney, Left Hand and Croatia's Garden

CorkBillyBeers #6

Craft with Galway Bay, Heaney, Left Hand and Croatia's Garden


Galway Bay Ostara Irish Stout, 5.00% ABV, 330 ml can Bradleys.

Brewers Galway Bay are enthusiastic about this: Here is Ostara Stout, our take on the concept of ‘Dublin Stout’. Brewed to be complex but quaffable. We took some of our Imperial stout tricks and adapted them to a lower abv base recipe. The result has layered malts with some lovely soft chocolate notes finished with a nice hop zing to help clean the palate.

From the city that drank and exported so much stout in the early days, it is difficult to take the Dublin bit but not at all difficult to swallow this Galway stout. It looks the part, with black body and soft tan head, and also smells the part, toast and coffee.

Not too long ago, I doubt that many Irish drinkers deliberately smelled their stout before that first big swallow. 

The man in the bar had a small wine glass in his hand. But that wasn't wine in the glass. He covered the opening with his hand and shook the glass. Taking away his hand, he asked me to smell. As I do so, he said “Toffee Bar”. I agreed. Then he said: “Beamish”. 

And it was indeed the old Cork favourite (still going strong with many local devotees, including craft beer drinkers), the toffee bar aromas enhanced by the agitation and the shape of the glass. The man in the Kiln at Murphy’s Stout in Leitrim Street, was Marc Stroobants, a renowned beer expert from Belgium. I’ve been nosing my beers since that eye-opener ten years ago.

Thanks to M. Stroobants, I quite often stick my finger into the head in the glass and suck it. It often gives a clue to what I may taste later on. But sticking your finger into the head and sucking will sometimes get you some curious stares.

When Ostara hits the palate, the toasted notes of the malts (traces of coffee and chocolate) lead the way to a dry and lip smacking and palate cleansing finish. But I do feel there is something little bit lacking between the aromas and the finalé.

The name? Not too sure. Google tells me Ostara marked the Spring Equinox in German and Celtic tradition and there was a festival. But no mention of beer!

Highly Recommended.


Heaney Irish Stout, 4.3% ABV, 500 ml bottle can Bradleys

I’m somewhat prejudiced here, prejudiced through practice that is. I’ve been enjoying this stout from the Heaney Farmhouse Brewery in Co. Derry over a few years now. And I know satisfaction is guaranteed! 

It is black, with a tan coloured head that loses volume pretty quickly. Stick your finger in the head (there I go again!) and taste the roast coffee and dark chocolate which are more or less what you’ll get from the aromas. No oatmeal here but the palate is rich and smooth, caramel and chocolate and that roasted malt finish, a dry one also, and lip-licking finalĂ©. Satisfaction!

Heaney’s are always handy with food pairings and here they suggest slow-cooked meat dishes or a rich chocolate dessert.

Highly Recommended.

They say: For generations, our family farm has been a place of harvest and inspiration. Our beers are for after the graft. Rural thirst quenchers. Brewed and bottled by Heaney Farmhouse Brewery at The Wood, Bellaghy, Co. Derry.


Excellent head 
on the Left Hand.

Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout Nitro, 6.0% ABV, 404 ml can Bradleys

“Experience America’s Stout. Milk Stout Nitro is a full sensory experience. Gaze at the mesmerizing cascade of all those tiny Nitro bubbles.”

Nitro is the key word here. They use nitro to get the bubbles going rather than “old” CO2. Then again Nitro has a 60 year old plus history to its credit, with most of the credit being claimed by Guinness and its widget.

And this Left Hand  does try hard to live up to its billing. “This portable draft beer experience is Good to Go straight from the can or served Like a Pro in a glass. From the bottle, Pour Hard to release the Nitro magic inside.” Pour Hard is also key! You do indeed stare at the rising bubbles and then see them fall back down the sides of the glass.

The body colour is black, the pillowy head, that really stays around, is tanned. There is coffee and cream in the moderately (if even that) intense aromas. The sensation on the palate is ultra smooth, creamy/milky, and that head coats your upper lip, a bit on the sweet side though. Initial roasty, mocha flavours rise up, with slight hop and roast bitterness in the finish. 

I like the theatre at the start and like the finish but the overall experience is all a bit moderate, a bit on the slight side, more butterfly than bee, a dance at arm’s length rather than a clinger. More shadow than substance. Give me Cotton Ball or Elbow Lane any day.

Still it is an interesting one, easy drinking,  and well worth a try and I fully understand why quite a few drinkers rave about it. Just not me. I have a Brewmaster nitro in the queue and I must also try and get the O’Hara’s one. Any other suggestions? 

Geek Bits

IBU 25

Malt: 2-Row, Crystal, Chocolate, Munich, Rolled Oats, Flaked Barley, Roasted Barley

Lactose is also listed in ingredients.

For the best experience, pour hard at 180 degrees into a 16oz glass. Different gas, different pour. Cheers! #PourHard

Firestone Nitro tip

To enjoy this beer (Firestone) to the fullest, you want to master the surge pour. Just invert the can three times, then pour hard into the glass. This way, you can experience the “theater of the pour” with a brilliant cascading effect and a creamy foam that makes drinking Nitro Merlin Milk Stout all the more delicious

Check video here.


The Garden (Croatia) Stout, 5.7% ABV, 330 ml can Bradleys

First time trying a beer from Croatia and it comes with a hefty enough 5.7% ABV. It pours dark with a soft tan head that slowly sinks in the glass. Aromas are modest enough, mostly roasted coffee. I note a streak of acidity as it hits the palate but it is the coffee and chocolate that go on to make the running with a little, barely noticeable, sweetness. 

Lactose is listed as an ingredient here, presumably to add the sweetness.  The lactose (milk sugar) is not eaten by yeast. But the result here is rather modest. Indeed, the stout itself , though pleasant, is a modest effort overall.

It is produced by the Garden Brewery in Zagreb. “We’re lucky to have a huge garden, with plenty of seating and tables sheltered under the shade of more than 40 mature trees. There’s also an outside bar, a large lawn, an area for DJs and Live Music and events. When the sun is shining, there’s not much that beats an ice-cold beer in The Garden!”

In those circumstances and with the right company, and the Croatian football team on the TV, then this stout may well shine!