Wednesday, March 8, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #14. Craft with super lagers by Whitefield, 9 White Deer, Galway Hooker, and Schlenkerla

CorkBillyBeers #14

Craft journey with super lagers by Whitefield, 9 White Deer, Galway Hooker, and Schlenkerla

Lager is the most popular beer in the world and there are quite a few variations. See bottom for brief details of German styles. There are more, especially in Czechia and Austria. We have a few styles here including Vienna, a German Rauchbier and also an organic Pilsner from Galway Hooker. All in all, these four make for a very enjoyable session!


Galway Hooker Organic Pilsner 4.1% ABV, 440ml can CraftCentral

“One of Ireland’s first organic beers, this is a light and refreshing lager with a crisp dry finish.”

Lets see! It comes in a clear gold colour, quite a head, white and foamy.  A slight hint of sweetness in the aromas and yes light and very refreshing indeed in the mouth followed by a snappy and satisfying finalé. You can taste why this smooth Pilsner, crafted from organic ingredients, inspired by their “ commitment to sustainability and artisan methods” is now one of their core beers. 

“Malt depth is often quite slight but can add complexity and a sweetness that enhances hop flavour,” declares author Mark Dredge, speaking of modern pilsner. Looks like Galway Hooker got it spot on here, even if the ABV and IBU are at the lower end of the respective scales. 

Lager is by far the most popular beer in the world; Pilsner is part of the family. Good to see more and more Irish brewers coming up with excellent examples though organic efforts are very rare. I know Denmark’s ToOl do one but can’t think of another Irish one.

Hooker talk the talk and walk the walk. “For every pint of Galway Hooker Organic Pilsner we pour we will make a donation to Hometree to offset the ecological impact of its production."

They use locally sourced water from the west of Ireland which contains an ideal balance of minerals for brewing. “All of our water passes through an activated carbon filter to ensure the purest quality and flavours in our beers.”

"The whole purpose of the brewing process is to make a food source for yeast to grow on. One of the by-products of this growth is alcohol. Because yeast is a living microorganism, it keeps regenerating itself every time we make a batch of beer. This means that we can harvest the yeast from one batch of beer and reuse it for the next batch. We have a special tank to store the yeast between batches.”

Check out their story here 

Very Highly Recommended.


Whitefield Jockey Hall Vienna Lager, 5.4% ABV, 500 ml bottle No. 21

Whitefield are well known for their European style beers, including lagers, and this Jockey Hall, with its smooth body and crisp finish, is one of them.

It also has the usual Vienna Lager amber colour, with a white head that sits around for a spell. The Vienna Malt, which accounts for the colour,  brings out a complex toastiness in the flavour and gentle hop character with a low fermentation temperature ensure a good crisp finish. Be ready to lick your lips after each sip. And there is no need to gulp, sips are fine thanks to the delicious flavours of this expertly crafted lager.

Very Highly Recommended.

In the summer of 1993, Cuilan Loughnane had a “road to Damascus" moment while sitting in one of Heathrow’s pubs one glorious summer's evening on a 4-hour stopover en-route to Vancouver: “I witnessed a bar maid performing a very unusual looking ritual, while trying to pour a beer into a glass. I witnessed it again 10 minutes later and again and again.

She was pulling a white ceramic lever with her left hand with what looked like a considerable amount of effort. As the lever arced downwards her entire upper body arched inwards towards the counter. In her right hand was a pint glass, which she was holding under a swan necked spout that was below the white lever. Into the glass was flowing some form of beer, strange looking stuff.”

His own curiosity led the young man to start asking questions, his first steps to becoming a craft brewer. More of the story of Whitefield (and Dwans and White Gypsy before that) here in a recent post.


9 White Deer Stag Kolsch 4.2% ABV, 500ml bottle

Ballyvourney brewery 9 White Deer presents this, their Kolsch style lager beer, with a bright and clear yellow/amber colour and white head. With its high carbonation level and gentle hop character, it is palate friendly with an almost creamy feel. Easy to quaff and easy to see how this refreshing beer has become one of their biggest selling beers.

Its reputation quickly grew from the brewery’s early days, thanks to the local water and guidance from a famous German brewmaster.  Soft is the operative word here as the water, from the Cork and Kerry mountains, is really soft, just perfect for lager style beers. 

And the guidance they got from Roland, then brewmaster of the well known Munich brewery Augustiner and still a friend of the Ballyvourney brewery, could not have been bettered. Kolsch and 9 White Deer were on their way, on their way to stay.

They are very happy with it: It has a gentle hop and malt character, a classic German style of beer brewed with German Noble Hops, Premium Irish and German Malt and German Yeast. Stag Kolsch gets an extended lagering time where it can develop and mature into this classic premium European style beer.

As a bonus, like all their beers, this is gluten free.

Very Highly Recommended.

Recent feature on 9 White Deer here


Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock, 6.5% ABV, 500 ml bottle Bradleys

“Liquid bacon fries.”

Bamburg is the home of smoked beer (Rauchbiers) and a pilgrimage for the style’s aficionados. Some of our Irish craft brewers have been to the German town and Kinnegar, Whiplash and Crew have made examples of the style. Limerick’s Crew described the “weird and wonderful” Bamburg drinks as liquid bacon fries.

And liquid bacon fries is quite close to summing up the aromas, even the palate, from this unusual lager. Colour is dark, not quite solid black (more like Coco Cola) and the head is tan. Aside from the bacon, there is smoke on the palate too but the malt, plus an acidity that cuts through, prevent the smoke element from dominating. Flavours of coffee and toffee on the smokey finish. Definitely on the maltier side, but it isn't sweet at all.

October to December is bockbeer time in Bamberg and at the Schlenkerla brewery. According to old tradition, as early as May the Original Schlenkerla Smokebeer - Urbock is being brewed. After the brew in classic copper kettles, it matures for months in the historic cellars underneath Stephansberg. Those are part of the tunnel system of Bamberg, which is more than 700 years old. As the temperature there is constantly at around 8°C they have been used by Bamberg brewers for centuries to mature and lager their beers. The Ur in Urbock, means fresh (as us Irish speakers well know!). Bock means various things: a goat, lust, or in our case a dark beer (lager).

Schlenkerla smoked malt is kilned directly over an open wood fire. The smoke from this fire penetrates the malt and gives it its unique smoky flavour. Until the invention of modern malting systems in the 17th and 18th century with heat exchangers running on coal, oil or gas, smoke kilns were THE standard. As the new industrial form of malting was much more cost efficient, the smoke kilns everywhere were closed down. Not so at Schlenkerla! Indeed Slow Food® has made Schlenkerla Rauchbier a passenger in its “Ark of Taste”.

Geeks Bits

Original gravity: 17.5 °p

Alcohol: 6.5%

Bitterness: 40

Ingredients: Water, barley malt, hops


German lager types

“Pils” may be Germany’s most well-known lager. Aromatic, crisp and moderately bitter it is refreshing and a terrific session beer.

Maibock is the spring beer (Mai = May). Hops and malts get a turn here. Quite versatile at the table with pasta dishes, salmon, or shellfish recommended.

Märzen has traditionally been brewed in March to be enjoyed at festivals starting in September. Again, there’s usually a good balance between malts and hops and you can enjoy it at Oktoberfest with the schnitzel, brockwurst and game.

Kolsch comes from the German city of Cologne (Köln). It is a light and refreshing ale-lager hybrid, hybrid because its producers employ elements and techniques of both lager and ale.  It is made with an ale yeast and cold finished like a lager.


Helles can be easily found iMunich, its crisp finish similar to Pils. Cool and refreshing, this everyday beer goes well with salads, shrimp, or fish, an excellent session beer.

There are quite a few other types including Rauchbier (see the Schlenkerla above). And our own Whiplash and Kinnegar have have each made excellent Black lagers.

How To Pour A German Lager From A Bottle*

1. Tilt the glass or stein at a 45 degree angle.

2. Place the tip of the bottle in the glass, and pour the beer quickly down the side.

3. Start to straighten the glass as the beer reaches the top to create a nice head of foam.

* from 

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