Friday, May 5, 2023

McGill's launch barrel aged stout!. Craft journey with McGill’s Brewery. CorkBillyBeers #27.

CorkBillyBeers #27

Craft journey with McGill’s Brewery

McGill's launch exquisite barrel aged stout!

Just this week, Joe McGill launched their "exquisite" barrel aged stout, An Coireán, at the micro-brewery. The latest chapter in the brewery story began back in December...

It was quite a day in the McGill micro brewery when they transferred their own Puffin Imperial Stout to the oak barrels. This was the start of making the first beer of its kind brewed in the area. 

The barrels were rather special, being oak port pipes from Portugal. They had previously been used to mature some superb Liberator Whiskey at the beautiful Killarney lakeside location where Maurice O’Connell operates his Wayward Irish Spirits in ancient farm buildings.

The stout aged well in the little brewery in the Gaeltacht between Waterville and Ballinskelligs, over the winter months, taking in some of the qualities of the oak and port and picking up some exquisite notes from the whiskey. Now the pipes will return to Lakeview for another round of whiskey!

The stout that originally went into the barrels last December was McGill’s Puffin Island Imperial Stout, itself weighing in at 7.9% ABV. Best served chilled ”like a wild Atlantic Wave” says brewer Joe and he gives the same advice for the new barrel-aged An Coireán (a stout that can be kept for at least two years).

At the end of April, I was staying in Waterville and spotted the brewery opposite the St Finian’s church in Murreigh, on the road to Ballinskelligs. A spur of the moment call led to a chat with Joe and his mum and as I left he handed me a bottle of the newly unveiled stout, the very first with a label! Honoured to have that.

McGill’s Puffin Island Imperial Stout 7.9% ABV, 500ml bottle

McGill’s Imperial Stout has the classic colours: black body and tan head. Aromas are of coffee and chocolate, not overly strong. On the palate, there’s a hint of sweetness to it, later a touch of bitterness, but nothing overbearing, and indeed the beer is beautifully balanced. Nothing extreme about it at all, once you sip and don’t gulp it down. 

In this Imperial class, some stouts can be so concentrated you get too little flavour and too much alcohol on the palate and aftertaste, but this one, with vanilla, chocolate and caramel in the flavours, is one of the more sophisticated. Just give it the respect it deserves. 

Very Highly Recommended.

The label: Every beer we produce is inspired by the area and celebrates the area we are proud to call home. Puffin island is an Irish wildlife conservancy reserve near Portmagee (Kerry), a very small island. It is 1.5km long and 700m wide but rises up to 159m altitude and is quite close to the mainland. It holds some 1,000s of pairs of Manx Puffins and smaller numbers of other breeding seabirds.

An Coireán Barrel Aged Imperial Stout 13.1%, 330ml bottle

An Coireán has the same colours as its daddy Puffin Island. But the aromas have a flush of uisce beatha, telling us a bit about its breeding! And the same theme is left right and centre on the palate. But, yet again, the balance is just amazing and I can now understand the enthusiasm in brewer Joe McGill’s voice when he gave me this little bottle, the very first with the An Coireán label. By the way, An Coireán is the Irish name for Waterville.

A pint of McGill's IPA
at The Lobster
in Waterville.
The high abv of 13.1% could throw many a beer off kilter but McGill’s have the balance here spot on, like a diving puffin. The rich flavours, chocolate, vanilla, coffee, some fruit too, along with the whiskey influence, envelop the mouth and hold all the way to the finalé. 

Just follow the sip rather than gulp rule and you’ll enjoy every little drop of this beauty from the far south west. If anything, this is even more approachable than the Puffin. Enjoy and, as the McGills say: Sláinte agus fad saol agat’ (Health and long life to you).

Again, Very Highly Recommended.

Tip: use a wine glass or one of their own tasting glasses (about 1/3rd of a pint) with this one.

Check out the launch here on their Facebook

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