Friday, June 30, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #32 Craft. Craft. A mixed bag with Wide Street, Mescan, Wicklow Wolf and Torc.

CorkBillyBeers #32

Craft. A mixed bag with Wide Street, Mescan, Wicklow Wolf and Torc.



Wide Street House Saison 5.5% ABV, 440ml can Bradleys

Saison is a traditional Belgian beer brewed for the summer-time workers and Longford brewery Wide Street (it is situated on a very wide street) claims theirs is a classic representation of the Belgian Saison style. 

It pours a murky orange colour with a good white head. Aromatics throw up moderate banana notes, also a very mild spice. Glug this and you miss a lot. Sip and savour and you get citrus notes, that spice again and a smooth background wrap of banana.

Their yeast had been playing quite a role in this two-month fermentation and it is Saccharomyces cerevisiae var diastaticus saison strain (don't know of any abbreviation!).

They have also employed their favourite hop Saaz in the process and that provides a medium bitterness backed up with those hints of banana and pepper.  It had been “elected’ to their core range, the punters obviously liking the mild banana aromas and flavours, and a touch of peppery spice;  the bitterness factor is mid-range.

The beer has new packaging. “Our House Saison, part of our core range, has just got a rebrand! It's the same recipe with a fresh look for a zesty and peppery dry saison. Perfect pairing with barbecue meats, salads and fish.”

Highly Recommended.


Mescan Westport Saison, 5.8% ABV, 330 ml bottle

Saison is a traditional farmhouse style from the South of Belgium brewed to sustain the workers during long days of toil in the sun. Mayo’s Mescan are noted for their Belgian style beers and this Saison is an amazing example of how well they have learned the arts of the Belgian aces.

Colour of this Mescan is a slightly hazy orange, with a soft white head that sinks slowly. Aromas include clove and citrus notes. It is dry and light on the palate, effervescent and refreshing. Indeed, that refreshing fizziness is quite a feature. It is also very well balanced, with the New World hops matched by the earthy spicy yeast flavours, and you don't really notice the high alcohol. But do sip rather than gulp!

There is something different, something more wide-ranging about this Mescan saison. Flavours are deeper, longer lasting, and the experience more satisfactory. More than likely it comes from longer ageing (a brewery policy). 

On my recent visit to the rural brewery in Mayo, brewer and co-founder Cillian Ó'Móráin explained that Mescan beers take a minimum of 4 months with the heavier ones getting 6-8 months whereas your normal craft beer takes just a few weeks from start to shop (can vary from brewer to brewer). While the extra time makes the Mescan more expensive, Cillian reckons it is crucial for the quality of the beer. And it is indeed a premium product, illustrated well by this superb saison. 

Very Highly Recommended.

It is refreshing and quite a thirst quencher (which is the whole idea), and Mescan, as you may know, was St Patrick’s brewer and no doubt the odd conversion was facilitated by a jug of his cloudy brew. 

The modern bottle-conditioned beer is still somewhat cloudy! All Mescan beers are bottle conditioned. To enjoy them clear, store them upright and pour into a glass, leaving the yeast sediment in the bottle.

With its slightly bitter finish, Saison goes well with spicy dishes such as curries or chicken wings. "Our Saison is a real thirst quencher!" For more pairing ideas check their Food Pairing Wheel here

If you'd like to visit Mescan, they are open to visitors most Friday afternoons through the summer - online booking is required here.


 Honey Hefeweizen

Wicklow Wolf Honey Hefeweizen Locavore Spring 2023, 6.0% ABV, 440ml can Bradleys

The Wicklow Wolf Locavore series always scores highly in this quarter and I knew I had another winner in my hand when I tasted the Spring 2023 edition, a Honey Hefeweizen, at the Easter Beer Fest in Franciscan Well.

Local, as you know, is always at the heart of the series, and this is brewed with locally sourced Wicklow heather honey from the hives of “our friends in OpenHive” and using wheat grown in the field behind the brewery. Balance as always is important and therefore the character of honey should be evident but not allowed to take over.

It has a pale gold colour and is hazy, with a white head. It is based on a “strong wheat grain bill” and classic wheat beer aromas of banana and clove rise from the glass, also a touch of spice. And the beer seems a little bit sweeter on the palate as it and the honey get together but that important balance is achieved. 

Quite a taste of Wicklow then and Very Highly Recommended. So a contender for honours already from Wicklow. And could it repeat the Wicklow Wolf Locavore Spring 2022 (Barrel Aged Farmhouse Ale) that was joint first in the blog’s Beer of the Year last year?

Geek Bits

20 IBUs

Hops are Idaho 7

Heather Honey an ingredient.

Malts are: Pilsner, Wheat, Munich Both lagers and ales can be brewed with honey. Some brewers will choose to experiment with ingredients, while others will add honey to traditional styles. Overall the character of honey should be evident but not totally overwhelming.


Smoked German Ale

Torc Smoked German Ale, 6.0% ABV, 500ml bottle, Carry Out Killarney

Torc doesn’t tell us much - their website is under construction - but they say this was brewed using beech wood smoked malt to create a rich dark beer with savory (they use the American spelling) and smoked aromas. They also call it an ale.  Most German-smoked beers (Rauchbiers) that I know of are in the lager class. Torc has used “select smoked German malts”, smoked with beech wood.

However, any style of beer may be smoked. But, no matter the style, balance is always sought and that “guest” ingredient should not dominate. The style did originate in Germany as Rauchbier and other brewers can come up with their own recipe, subject to balance of course. However, a beer that may seem overly smokey early on may become less so as it ages because smoke flavours get weaker over time.

Remember those bacon crisps we used to get in bars a long time ago, you still do. Well, in fairness this beer has that aroma, “Liquid bacon fries” as Limerick brewery Crew calls them. Colour of the Torc effort is a hazy reddish/brown and the head soon shrinks. The flavours follow the aromas but, in both, I’d say that Torc have achieved an excellent balance - the bacon fries effect is moderate - and the beer drinks and finishes well.

Highly Recommended

Although a classic Rauchbier is brewed as a lager of the malty German persuasion, smoke beers can take other forms. Smoked porters are common in the US. Nowadays, just a handful of breweries in Bamberg, Germany carry the Rauchbier torch. They continue the tradition of making beer with malt smoked over beechwood, which imparts a smooth and pleasant smoky flavour, similar to that of hickory – so similar that Rauchbiers are sometimes colloquially referred to as “Bacon Beers.”

So now, that you have the picture, it is over to you! it’s a challenge getting the balance just right, and arguably just as challenging to find the right audience for it. Torc certainly got the first part pretty much spot on and it looks as of their customers are up for it. 

Pair it with delicious Gubbeen Hot Smoked Ham, also Baltimore Dry Cured Black Bacon or Ummera Smoked Bacon Rashers. Or just a little pack of those Bacon Fries! 

Recent Irish examples of the style are:

Kinnegar 20÷2 Anniversary Rauchbier

Whiplash Immolator Triple Decoction Smoked Doppelbock 

Whiplash Smoke Stack Lightnin’ Oaked & Smoked Brown.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen from Bamburg is a German classic. 

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Sunday Lunch returns in style to The Cork International Hotel

Sunday Lunch returns in style to 

The Cork International Hotel

Chorizo and prawn salad

Sunday Lunch returned in style to The Cork International Hotel for Fathers’ Day. I didn't make it that day but glad to get the opportunity to try it out last Sunday and found lots of company as the lovely and comfortable space began to fill from one o’clock on.

The lunch, which is served from 12.30 pm to 3 pm, is based on locally sourced produce and the hotel’s New Yorker Bar and Restaurant is the venue and I was a guest of the hotel. The a la carte menu offers a variety of dishes as well as a roast-of-day specials list from the carvery (these are brought to your table).

Salmon from the carvery

Starters last Sunday included Homemade Soup of The Day, Pan Fried Atlantic Prawns Pil Pil, West Cork Steamed Mussels, and New York Inspired Chicken Wings.

CL’s picks were the Mussels served in a Classic White Wine and Herb Cream Sauce, with a length of sourdough to mop up the sauce. Not too sure about the New York in the wings (aside from the fact that we were in the New Yorker Bar!), but they were excellent, the hot sauce and the famous Cashel Blue doing the business and giving the necessary lift.

NY Chicken Wings

Mains on the day included: Summer Poke Bowl, Empire State Double Beef Burger, Chef Mihira’s Authentic Elawalu Maas Vegetable Curry, and Fresh Crab and Chilli Linguine. The Carving station offered: Prime Roast of West Cork Hereford Rib of Beef with a Rich Red Wine Jus, Hony Glazed Loin of West Cork Bacon, Roasted Crown of Irish Turkey, and Lemon & Thyme Marinated Irish Salmon.

CL loves her salmon and this, perfectly cooked, got the thumbs up. All roasts come with Crispy Roasties, Mashed Potato, Roasted Carrots, and Yorkshire Pudding with a side of Cauliflower & Cheese. Quite a plateful.

My quantity was somewhat more modest but the Warm Gubbeen Chorizo & Prawn Salad (with Fried Potatoes, Mixed Leaves, Red Onions, and Garlic Croutons) lacked nothing in quality and exceeded expectations and was one of the best salads so far this summer and one to note for sure.

I’d say the NYC Cheesecake has been on the menu here since the restaurant was renamed. But it has stood the test of time and, aided by sliced West Cork Strawberries and an excellent wild berry compote, impressed no end last Sunday. Other desserts on the list were Dark Chocolate Brownie; Lemon, Ginger & Chilli Posset; and a Classic Summer Eton Mess.

Great also to see local producers acknowledged on the menus. Food suppliers include McCarthy Meats, Keohane Seafoods, Ardsallagh Cheese, and Gubbeen Farm cheese and charcuterie. Drinks suppliers listed include Blacks of Kinsale, Stonewell Cider, Rebel City Distillery and 9 White Deer Brewery.

All in all a very satisfactory outing to the airport. Quite a large venue and full credit to the staff who were both efficient and very friendly all through. A drive to the airport was regarded as a treat in its early days. A drive for Sunday lunch is the new treat in Farmers Cross!

The Cork International Hotel Sunday Lunch is €19.00 for main course, €26 per person for two courses or €34 per person for three courses. A full kids’ menu is also available. To make a reservation call 021 454 9800.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Start Your Story! Cork’s Iconic English Market Seeks New Traders

 ‘Start Your Story’

Cork’s Iconic English Market Seeks New Traders

The English Market and Cork City Council have launched a campaign to help find the next new traders at Cork’s English Market. The new campaign titled “Start Your Story”, presents a unique opportunity for food entrepreneurs to join a historic community of traders and start a new business at the world renowned market

The English Market is seeking applications and expressions of interest from innovative, artisan and high quality food producers and providers nationwide. Home to many generational family businesses, vacancies at the market are rare, however there are currently four primely placed market stalls available to let to the right candidates.

The letting presents both established and budding food entrepreneurs with the chance to share their passion with the thousands of tourists and locals who shop at the famed food emporium every year. 

Brendan Walsh, Property Manager at the English Market added, “In addition to its long-standing reputation as one of the finest food markets known around the world, successful applicants can expect to operate from a high-quality fully fitted unit and avail of low monthly rates that include management, marketing and overhead facilities. The market also affords traders invaluable industry insights; as they can trial products, assess demand and receive live feedback from customers, all while making lasting connections with customers, traders and suppliers in the market. This is a unique opportunity to be a part of history and to bring forth a new era of innovative food businesses in the market.”

All proposals are welcome and will be considered by a specialist panel to ensure new traders selected will be in keeping with the values of the market. Applicants who can demonstrate a commitment to innovation and sustainable food practices, from low ‘food miles’ to compostable packaging, will be in strong contention. 

Full details, terms and conditions and application forms can be found by visiting the English Market website Alternatively, business proposals can be shared with Cork City Council at The English Market is open 8am-6pm, Monday to Saturday (closed on Sundays & Bank Holidays). For more information and to keep up to date with the latest news, visit The English Market social media pages on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023


 press release

Calling All Little Explorers – It’s time to Play at The Osprey Hotel


Escape to the four-star, Osprey Hotel in Naas, Co. Kildare this summer season for some family fun with the little ones. This stylish contemporary hotel has a multitude to offer to make sure parents and kids are well looked after on their summer break. No need to stress at an airport or worry about how you will manage with little ones. Everything has been thought of! There’s even a baby concierge service where you can avail of those all-important emergency wipes, and nappies. The hotel can also provide bottle warmers and microwave so you can put your mind at ease in case you forget anything.

The brand-new family package called, ‘Osprey Explorers’ offers guaranteed fun for all the family and includes both one- and two-night bed and breakfast options. Unwind in one of the spacious, airy family guestrooms which are suitable for two adults and two children under 12 sharing with their parents. Some of the family rooms even include a tepee! What more could any little explorer wish for?

Choose from a variety of Osprey Explorers packages to suit you and opt between a ticket to Dublin Zoo or Emerald Park (from €260.00 per family).

The children will love the 20-metre deck pool and will enjoy checking themselves into the hotel at the dedicated kids check in area. Everything has been thought of to create a magical family experience for the little ones including children’s goodie bags, colouring books and even treasure hunt maps.

Osprey Explorers’ will really enjoy the kids pancake station at breakfast time, and the tasty kids’ menu with a variety of options to choose from in the Osprey Bar or the bistro style Herald & Devoy Restaurant which has tasty meals for even the fussiest of eaters.

Evening entertainment with movie nights for the kids is provided every weekend in June and every night in July. Sit back and let them tuck into popcorn while they watch one of the family movies provided by the Osprey Hotel.

As well as a swimming pool, there is also a steam room and saunas, and a hydro pool with a cascading water jet, ideal to relieve those parental tension knots! Make sure to escape for a little while without the little ones and enjoy some serious pampering at the magnificent 10,000 sq. ft Osprey Spa which was designed by celebrity architect Hugh Wallace.

With plenty to do around the Kildare area you can be sure the kids won’t get bored. Great things to see and do include visiting the Japanese Gardens and The Irish National Stud or see if you can navigate the Kildare maze.

Fashionistas will really enjoy browsing the quirky boutiques which Naas is so famous for. Also nearby is Kildare Village and Newbridge Silverware and the famous Museum of Style Icons where garments once worn and owned by stars of the worlds of film and music are on permanent display.

Located just 35 minutes from Dublin City Centre, the Osprey Hotel is a must visit destination for all little explorers this summer.

Escape to the Osprey Hotel this summer. For more see or call them on  +353 45 881 111.





Packages overview:

·       Powerscourt Passport: Overnight stay for two from €298.00 per room to include breakfast, complimentary room up-grade and entrance tickets to either Powerscourt Waterfall or Powerscourt House & Gardens.

·       Summer Time Out2 adults and 2 children (under 12 yrs) sharing family accommodation with breakfast for all, a family picnic for 4 and admission to Powerscourt Waterfall and dinner for the adults on one evening in The Sally Gap Restaurant from €892 for a two-night stay or €446.00 for an overnight experience for the family.


Whether it is family bonding time or a couple’s summer retreat you are longing for, the 5* Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa is the perfect choice and has just launched some fabulous online offers available throughout the summer 2023.

There’s nothing as decadent as a mid-week summer escape. Powerscourt has curated a delightful overnight experience for two, namely the Powerscourt Passport, offering guests midweek stays from €298.00 per room with breakfast and complimentary upgrade upon check-in.  Also, included are courtesy entrance tickets to either Powerscourt House & Gardens or Powerscourt Waterfall and guests can advise which attraction/activity preference they have upon check in. Each location sets the perfect backdrop for a romantic alfresco picnic.  


Upon arrival, the welcoming doorman will escort you to the impressive lobby which leads into the Sugar Loaf Lounge, where you can catch a glimpse of the magical setting.  Settle into your impressive bedroom, take a stroll or a bike ride about the glorious grounds, slip into your swimwear for a dip in the 20m Swarovski crystal-lit swimming pool before donning your best attire for some sophisticated cocktails on the glorious outdoor terrace before dinner in the stunning Sika Restaurant, where the space is as appetising as the menu. 

Sika Restaurant

There is no better place to soak up the sunshine and enjoy the Sugar Loaf Mountain vistas as the weather gets warmer, as Sika Terrace & Restaurant is open for all day dining during the summer months and offers the best of Irish contemporary cooking inspired by the rich bounty of our seas and fields, with popular classics deliciously presented with a distinctively modern twist. Overnight stay for two from €298.00 per room per night to include breakfast, complimentary room up-grade and entrance tickets to either Powerscourt Waterfall or Powerscourt House & Gardens.

For families, Powerscourt offers a tantalising balance of fun and formality with outdoor playground, giant chess game and nature walks to decadent Afternoon Tea experiences so regardless of age, there’s plenty of options to satisfy all requests. Treat the kids and let them explore the magnificent 1,000-acre resort and enjoy some relaxed family time together over breakfast in the wonderful Sika Restaurant overlooking the glorious grounds and Sugar Loaf Mountain. 

Cycle to the gorgeous village of Enniskerry (complimentary estate bicycles available) or pedal along the river walk trail and pay a visit to Powerscourt Waterfall and enjoy a family picnic together, taking time to inhale the breath-taking vistas.  Whilst the kids enjoy complimentary movies and popcorn in the comfort of your room, the adults can steal away on one evening for a delicious dinner for two in the beautiful Sally Gap Restaurant. Summer Time Out  package for 2 adults and 2 children (under 12 yrs) sharing family accommodation with breakfast for all, a family picnic for 4 and admission to Powerscourt Waterfall and dinner for the adults on one evening in The Sally Gap Restaurant from €892 for a two-night stay or €446.00 for an overnight experience for the family. 

Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa offers a truly magical escape, with all the vital ingredients to create the perfect backdrop for an amazing summer break.  Relax on arrival in the comfort of your impressive bedroom complete with signature linens, featherbeds, marble bathrooms, ESPA bath essentials and Rainforest showers to name some of the luxurious amenities. Take a dip in the indoor 20m Swarovski crystal-lit swimming pool or treat yourself to a treatment at ESPA. 

Renowned as one of the best spa hotels in Ireland, therapists are trained to the highest standards ensuring you can enjoy an exceptional spa experience in secluded luxury. All treatments are exclusively by ESPA, and surrounded by gorgeous scenery amongst the Wicklow Mountains, the Spa is the ultimate luxury retreat. All Spa guests enjoy full use of the thermal areas including Swarovski-Crystal lit heated pool, Hamman Suite, Sauna and Steam rooms.  The Spa Café offers a tranquil oasis to sit, eat, sip and surrender to relaxation.

Don your walking attire and take advantage of the wonderful Wicklow countryside including a private Riverside Walk within the walls of Powerscourt Estate offering over 3 km of winding unspoiled walkways, breathtaking views and an opportunity to spend some precious time with the love of your life.  

This private and hidden gem lies deep within the walls of Powerscourt Estate and the Viscount of Powerscourt laid the River Walk’s main pathway in 1868 so that his family could enjoy the serenity of the river Dargle.   If it is an adventure break you are looking for, the hotel can organise mountain climbs, escorted walks or more strenuous activities including abseiling and mountain biking.  Golf can also be arranged at Powerscourt Golf Club and Enniskerry is packed with interesting things to do and see. The town itself is brimming with great restaurants, fabulous shops, and old-town atmosphere.

For more information, please visit

Bookings can be made through the Reservations Team on +35312748888 or

press release