CorkBillyBeers #20. Craft Lager with Cotton Ball, Whitefield, Tom Crean and Obolon

CorkBillyBeers #20

Craft Lager with Cotton Ball, Whitefield, Tom Crean and Obolon


Cotton Ball Mayfield 5 Lager, 5% ABV, 500 ml bottle O’Donovan’s

This lager, from my local, has a mid-amber colour, fountains of little bubbles, white head slims down rapidly but then hangs around for a good spell. A modest touch of hops in the aromas, more of the malt though. The refreshment factor immediately appears on the smooth palate, spot on balance between the German hops and malts. Has more character going for it than many lagers, good mouthfeel too. A thirst cutting clean bitterness rounds off an excellent lager experience with the gorgeous malt still clinging to the lips. 

A beer for all seasons, they indicate, saying: This Pilsner Lager, like the Noble Northsider’s adventures, spans the Atlantic, brewed using 100% Irish malted barley, clean bittered with three U.S. grown hops followed by a late kettle addition of Noble Hops (Hallertau Perle and Hersbrucker). Pour is clean and refreshing with a subtle aromatic hop flavour arising from a bed of light caramel malt. The Classic brew to compliment party food. This inviting pilsner goes down smoothly with gourmet burgers, pizzas or wings. A perfect hit at BBQs a great choice for alfresco dining.

And the Northsider they refer to on the label is Humphrey Lynch, who left Ballyvourney (now the home of 9 White Deer) at 15 years of age and settled in an American town known as Byefield which he later used in naming his Cork estate house. After working for two years with Joseph Longfellow, cousin to the famous poet, he worked for a year in the ship yard at Newburyport until the American civil war in which he fought in a string of “engagements”. He returned to his native Cork in 1874 and set up in Mayfield, calling his newly-purchased public house The Cotton Ball. And the Lynch family are still here today, the brewery one of the latest additions to the family’s businesses.

Very Highly Recommended.


Whitefield Ivy Hall, Dark Lager, 5.2% ABV, 500 ml bottle No. 21

DUNKEL! A lager style almost single-handedly saved by the descendants of the last king of Bavaria K├Ânig Ludwig III it belies the senses, but don’t be afraid of the dark!

That’s the message from Whitefield Brewery of Templemore as they offer their dark lager. It is called Ivy Hall but was once Dark Lady. A rebrand in recent years has seen the Tipperary brewery change the names of its various beers and even the brewery name itself from White Gypsy. “As part of the rebrand we wanted to link everything to our locality and Ivy Hall is a townland in Templemore.”

The beer is indeed dark and if you didn’t know you’d be inclined to think you had a stout ahead of you, right down to the tan head and the roasted aromas. The brew is put together with Bohemian and Munich malts, roasted barley, Saaz hops, and Czech yeast.

A dark brown colour conceals the soul of this European dark beer that turns out to be a lager; as the bottle label says “don't be afraid of the dark”. The dark beer also turns out to be well-made, well mannered. Nothing sinister here, just a very interesting beer from Templemore, not for the first time. The notes from the roasted barley are a prominent feature though, in fairness, it has an excellent rounded flavour all the way through to a very satisfying finish.

A (slightly) sweet malty dark lager, as you might expect to get in Munich, a really top notch beer. Another Irish beer that proves you can do without Nitro.

Very Highly Recommended.


Tom Crean St Brigid’s Irish Lager, 4.5% ABV, 440ml can, Carry Out Killarney

A lovely golden colour on this one, bubbles galore and the bubbly head is not retained for very long. Good balance of hops (Slovenia) and malt (German) on the palate with the malt getting an edge on the finale as it has in the aromas. 

More refreshment from this one than I remembered from a previous tasting a few years back. Brewer Bill Sheppard has his own methods - go to Kenmare and take that tour! - and this is a very satisfying lager indeed that reminds me of the traditional Central European style.

This is one of the Crean beers that was awarded in last year’s Blas awards. It got bronze while their 6 Magpies Stout did even better with a gold.

They say: “This is our salute to an accomplished medieval brewer.  Rich golden colour, German malts with hops from Slovenia. We allow six weeks to bring this classic to perfection. St. Bridget known in Ireland for her saintly status, her feast day (1st Feb) and her cross made from reeds, less known for being a fine Irish brewer.”

Bill Sheppard also had a story about the saint: “…quite a lot of the early brewers were women and the church wasn’t very happy with that situation. The brewers wore a special hat for the trade and kept a cat (to protect the grain from mice) and that eventually led to some of them being called witches with dire consequences.”

Lager of course ties up your brewing kit for longer than ale and maybe that was why there was a shortage of lager from the current wave of craft breweries in the early stages. No shortage now though. Still takes extra time though and Tom Crean allow six weeks to bring their lager “to perfection”.

Very Highly Recommended.

For a recent post on the brewery please click here.  


Obolon Premium Lager, 5.0% ABV, 500ml can Bradleys

Clear gold is the colour, head short-lived. Sweet malty plus boiled rice aromas. Much the same in the mouth too but well balanced, sharply refreshing and easy drinking. Just the job for the brighter days ahead. Very affordable also at two euro for the large can.

Budmo, the Ukrainian toast, means 'let us be' and is the shortest and the most popular Ukrainian toast. Appropriate too in more ways than one these days.

This is what the Ukrainian brewery says about it: Obolon Premium is a lager beer which presents an extremely soft and rich taste. Aromatic hops in combination with a special ingredient-rice, provides this beer with a distinct flavor and a pleasant bitterness. Especially refreshing and effervescent beer with pronounced taste and palatable bitterness. This is one of the most popular beer due to its mild taste.