Monday, May 1, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #21. Craft Wheat beer with Rye River, Tom Crean, Whitefield, Ballykilcavan.

CorkBillyBeers #21

Craft Wheat beer with Rye River, Tom Crean, Whitefield, Ballykilcavan


Rye River Backwaters American Wheat, 6.2% ABV, 500 ml bottle Supervalu

Beers brewed in this American Wheat style do not exhibit the clove or high levels of banana-like esters that are hallmarks of the Bavarian wheat beer styles. And this is the case here. Regular European wheat beers use special strains of yeast that produce notes of banana and clove as by-products of fermentation.

Backwaters has the clear golden colour you’d expect from a wheat beer. Dank aromas rise from the glass in a diplomatic kind of way, nothing extreme, plus mild aromas of passion fruit and citrus. The hops, Cascade and Strata, bring bright fresh fruit. 

With the darker colour and malt prominent, you are inclined to think lager rather than wheat beer. But everything’s fine in this beer garden from start to a very satisfactory clean and crisp finish, hops and malts combining more or less perfectly.

And that dankness? Well it comes from the Strata which has been described as “Passion fruit meets pot.” Along with the exotic fruit comes this herbal note of drifting cannabis (the dankness)


Cascade is one of the best known hops and has been described as the hop  “that made hops famous”. Bursting with zesty grapefruit flavour and aroma, Cascade, with its bright citrus and some soft floral and spice, is a real treat and is credited with the making of American Pale. In this wheat beer, it also plays a crucial role. In fairness, Rye River have used their ingredients well and we have a good one in our hands.

Very Highly Recommended.

Geeks Bits




Tom Crean Druid’s Wheat Beer, 4.2% ABV, 440ml can, Carry Out Killarney

Druid’s, the wheat beer, “celebrates the landscape”,  according to the brewery. “… a beer that gives acknowledgement to our rich local ancient history, we used delicately smoked oak malted barley, the reduced hop bill allows the full wheat and yeast flavours to dominate.” 

Colour is a hazy pale lemon/yellow with a soft white head that soon loses height. The delicately smoked barley and the yeast has its say as seems to have been the intention here. Finishes with a refreshing tartness.

Not your classic wheat beer, but not a million miles away either. Brewer Bill Shepherd has his way of doing things.  He has his fans. In Christmas 2021 the Independent’s Aoife Carrigy recommended this as one of her 10 great Irish beers to pair with festive food.


Bill was born in Chester in the northwest of England. He worked as a firefighter in the London Fire Brigade and later graduated from Chester University with a degree in Archaeology.  He has retrained as a brewer and is turning out quite a range of Tom Crean beers, everything from the 1% Last man Standing to the Six Magpies Stout with lots of ales (pale and red and IPA) in between.

With a wide range of beers and ales brewed on the premises, including prize winners, their brewery bar is the perfect place to enjoy a refreshing pint and soak in the atmosphere. Head over to the brewery page here  for more info…

For a recent post on the brewery go here.  



Whitefield The Banker Weissbier, 5.2% ABV, 500 ml bottle No. 21

Whitefield’s Cuilan tells us about this beer: A slight twist on the German classic wheat beer the addition of rye malt gives a drier, lighter flavour profile and is very refreshing on warm summer days. Yes! I know we live in Ireland.”

The brewery kit in Templemore was made to make wheat beer. Really. “Our brewhouse was originally commissioned by Pauliner, so it is designed as a wheat beer brewery. The fermentation tanks are low, wide and flat bottomed to help maintain consistent flavour profile while using a volatile yeast. So it comes as no surprise that our best sellers in both draught and bottle are Weiss beers. This makes it tricky to brew drier hoppy beers, so we focus on the malty styles of beer with plenty of sweetness.”

Colour here is a mid-amber, no haze and you can see fountains of little bubbles rising. The head doesn’t hang about. Aromas are on the modest side, hints of spice perhaps, rye perhaps. On the palate, there is no shortage of flavour, banana and clove included. An excellent supple drink with flavours continuing to a refreshing finish.

Highly Recommended.

Recent detailed post on Whitefield here.


Ballykilcavan Robinson's Revenge Raspberry Wheat Beer 5.00% ABV, 440ml can CraftCentral

In the winter of 1861, after a bitter quarrel, the famous gardener William Robinson stormed out of Ballykilcavan opening all the greenhouses to kill the plants in them. This American Raspberry Wheat Beer gets his name from that vengeful act. That’s the story, at least one side of it, behind the beer’s name.

Colour is a darkish amber/orange, murky (enough to enable dastardly acts). Aromas are modest with hops taking a firm grip early on. And never really letting go though the raspberry (listed in the ingredients) gets a turn in the mouth before the US hops closes its grip again.

Ingredients: Water, wheat, Barley, Oats, Raspberries, Hops, Yeast.

The producers: “Ballykilcavan Farm has been the home of our family for 13 generations. We have lived and worked here since 1639, and diversification has always been important to keep our farm viable for future generations. When I took over Ballykilcavan from my father in 2004, my motivation was to try to sustain it so that someone else would be able to take it over from me.”

Ballykilcavan is an amazing place. We recently published a post on the brewery there and you may read it here


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