Thursday, August 31, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #41. Craft Journey with Red Ales by McGill's, Wicklow Wolf and Killarney Brewing

CorkBillyBeers #41

Craft Journey with Red Ales by McGill's, Wicklow Wolf and Killarney Brewing.


Is Red Ale really an Irish style? In the 1970s, famous beer writer Michael Jackson was credited with giving the tag to Smithwicks. According to World Atlas of Beer, American beer competitions started awarding prizes for the category and smaller Irish breweries started to “launch highly-hopped higher strength or even barrel-aged versions”. 

Wikipedia says Irish red ale, also known as red ale or Irish ale, is a style of pale ale that is brewed using a moderate amount of kilned malts and roasted barley that gives the beer its red colour.


McGill’s Maude Delap Irish Red Ale 5.0% ABV, 500ml bottle Centra Waterville

Red is the colour, for sure, of McGill’s Maude Delap Irish Red Ale, red with a soft tan head. After that, it is mostly about the lovely caramel flavours, just about perfect, neither too strong nor too weak. Nice job, Mr McGill!

Very Highly Recommended.

This traditional Irish Red Ale is named in honour of Maude Delap. Originally from Donegal, Maude came to live on Valentia Island (until her death in 1953). A self-taught marine biologist, she was known for being the first person to breed jellyfish in captivity and thus observed their full life cycle for the first time. She was also involved in an extensive study of plankton from the coasts of the island. More on Maude here .


Wicklow Wolf Wildfire Hoppy Red Ale, 4.6% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

“Not your typical red – Wildfire is a modern hoppy red ale.” That’s the claim from brewers Wicklow Wolf.

Appearances seem to be in the classic mould, fairly deep red body and an off-white head. 

Malt plus a sniff of coffee and caramel in the aromatics and the same combo, with a stronger showing from the coffee, on the palate. Here too, the Sorachi Ace hops also figure, rather mildly though. A creamy, herbal finish with hints of malty sweetness. Not quite traditional then. Not sure though that it is an improvement on the old style. Perhaps a summer rather than a winter red.

Indeed, “mild” is perhaps the most apt descriptor, though not in a pejorative manner. Touted as a modern red ale, I’m well pleased with it (nothing to do with its modernity or otherwise) and would love to try it in a direct joust with other reds like Roaring Ruby (from West Cork Brewing), Kinnegar’s Devil’s Backbone, Copper Coast (from Dungarvan Brewing), Sullivan’s Maltings, White Gypsy’s Ruby Red, Costello’s Red Ale and more (including Velvet Red by the Cotton Ball and the others in this post). Could be a long session. And I’d need food as well!

Highly Recommended

Geek Bits

IBUs 28

Hops: Sorachi Ace

Malts: Pale, Cara Ruby, Melano, Oats, Roasted, Crystal Rye

The Wicklow Wolf craft brewery was co-founded by Quincey Fennelly and Simon Lynch in 2014. The location then was in Bray. Now, in the new facility, near NewtownmountKennedy, there is a team of five brewers working under two ex Brewdog employees, John the production manager, and head brewer Andrew. The total number employed is 27. More on our recent visit here.


Killarney Rutting Irish Red Ale, 4.5% ABV, 440ml can, Carry Out Killarney

This Irish Red Ale from Kerry ”pays homage to Ireland’s last herd of native red deer. Each autumn, during a ritual known as The Rut their clashing antlers and bellowing roars echo through the majestic amphitheatre that is the Killarney National Park” say the producers. One such spectacular duel, at the waters’ edge, was brilliantly captured by the David Attenborough series Wild Isles and shown a few months back on the BBC.

The beer, based on the traditional Golding’s hops, has a ruby hued colour, and aromas of caramel and toffee. And that malty combo continues on to the palate, pleasing, lively and refreshing. Should be good with food, as most red ales are. 

The website says that “discerning beer drinkers will appreciate Rutting Red’s rugged flavour which values the intensity of our wild stags.” I can understand the writer’s enthusiasm but rugged is not a word I’d associate with this pretty fine and well-made beer. I’d be thinking more of the friendly red setter (supple, restrained and eager to please) like the dog that greets guests in Kerry’s Sneem Hotel.

Highly Recommended.


Wednesday, August 30, 2023



Eoghan Murphy, General Manager, Cork International Airport Hotel presenting the Carrigdhoun Newspaper / Cork International Airport Hotel Community Spirit Award to Linda Goggin-James at the Cork Cancer Care Centre. Included are centre volunteers Alma Riordan, Ralph O’Flaherty and James White. 
Picture: Adrian O’Herlihy


Cork Cancer Care Centre wins Community Spirit Award

Cork Cancer Care Centre is the latest winner of the Cork International Hotel Community Spirit Award. The centre offers support, advice and a shoulder to lean on to people touched by cancer.

The centre is located on St Paul’s Avenue in Cork City. A team of dedicated volunteers, therapists and counsellors provide a range of services free of charge to help people cope with the initial diagnosis as well as the side effects and after effects of cancer treatment.  

Cork Cancer Care Centre provides one-to-one counselling sessions, nutrition advice from an oncology nurse, gentle yoga classes, and group coaching from a cancer recovery coach. It also organises weekly peer support groups, for people to find solace, encouragement and friendships with others who are going through similar experiences. 

It began in 2011 as The Girls Club, however the demand for services continued to grow with both women and men availing of a range of services including acupuncture, reflexology, reiki, massage and one-to-one counselling sessions.  The charity changed its name to Cork Cancer Care Centre in 2017.

General Manager of the Cork International Hotel, Eoghan Murphy said; "We are incredibly honoured to present this month’s Community Spirit Award to Cork Cancer Care Centre. They were nominated by a young mum who availed of support after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She describes the centre as a safe, nurturing space, where she was understood, could talk freely about cancer, and they knew exactly what she needed. So many people are touched by cancer every year and organisations like this are vital. Their unwavering commitment to providing essential support and care to those facing cancer is truly remarkable. We applaud their dedication and tireless efforts to help individuals and families through their toughest times ensuring that no one faces cancer alone."

The Cork International Hotel Community Spirit Awards are sponsored by The Carrigdhoun Newspaper and Gerald McCarthy Giftware.

The judging panel for the Community Spirit Awards are made up of a mixture of representatives from the public and private sector within the community.

The judging panel for this award was:

  • Carmel Lonergan, Group Director of Operations, Trigon Hotels

  • Nicola Radley, Senior Executive Officer, Municipal District Operations & Rural Development at Cork County Council

  • Vincent O'Donovan, Publisher of The Carrigdhoun Newspaper


Nominations are now open for next month's awards at: . 

press release

Grenache and Syrah combine beautifully in this Côtes du Rhone

Grenache and Syrah combine beautifully

in this Côtes du Rhone 


Chateau de Bastet “Terram” Côtes du Rhône (AOP) 2020, 14%, 

RRP €16.00 Stockists include:  Ardkeen, Waterford / Connemara Hamper, Clifden / Little Green Grocker, Kilkenny / Quay Co-Op, Cork / Olive Branch, Clonakilty / The Vintry, Dublin / Wunderkaffee, Farran, Cork / Mary Pawle Wine Online

Organic and biodynamic; no herbicides, pesticides here

This Côtes du Rhone is made from a blend of Grenache and Syrah. The vineyard is situated close to Avignon and has been certified biodynamic for about 20 years. That’s the info from importer Mary Pawle, who adds: "I've been importing the  biodynamic wines from Chateau de Bastet for over 20 years. Next generation now with daughter Julie and her husband (Nicolas)."

Colour is dark cherry. Aromas of crushed jammy fruit, cherry and blackberry. The fruit is prominent and fresh on the palate, cherry and spice together along with soft tannins. And there’s a fresh acidity also but well balanced for sure. Very accessible and clean (no herbicides, no pesticides here). It is both organic and biodynamic and the blend is 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. 

Grenache’s qualities enhance fruitiness, warmth and body while Syrah can bring a hint of spice, as well as depth in colour and strength to the wine enabling it to age well.

Food pairings suggested by the producers are cold cuts, barbecued meat or small goat's cheeses and also as an aperitif. In general, it goes well with beef, game or lamb. Serve at 14 to 16 degrees.

Very Highly Recommended.


Check my growing list of top wines for 2023


Check out my Good Value Wine List here


Set in the heart of the prestigious Côtes du Rhône appellation (that came into being officially in 1937), the story of Château de Bastet is one of family traditions and a profound love of this land, a passion reflected in the wines made here.   “This precious ecological balance has been fine-tuned through the ages: the vines in a single, unbroken plot at the centre, with nature given free rein over the rest of the estate.”

Pope and Parker. And, in between, the Mistral

The shell of the Papal holiday palace
 remains after wartime bombing

Today, Rhone wine is one of the most popular wines in the world. It is known for its rich flavours and complex aromas.

Wine-loving France Pope Clement V moved the papacy from Rome to Avignon in 1309. Most of the wine drunk in the temporary papal palace (they also had a summer palace called Chateauneuf du Pape) was from the local area and so the fashion for Rhone wine began in blessed earnest.

The Rhone was firmly among the most respected wines in France when infallibility of another kind arrived in the 1980s. Robert Parker, the American wine guru, "intervened". He just loved the naturally ripe style and gave them very high scores and his many international "followers" took his points (mostly in the 90s) as gospel.

In between Pope and Parker, there was the wind of 1956, perhaps even more influential than the famous pair. That year, the infamous Mistral battered the region for three weeks and contributed to the temperature dropping to minus 15 degrees. The olive trees, then the big crop in the area, suffered badly but the vines resisted so well that a majority of farmers turned to vine cultivation.

Over 20 grape varieties are covered by the regulations governing the Côtes du Rhones AOC. The two used here, Grenache and Syrah, are well known, but I’ve never seen varieties such as Black Counoise, Black Muscardin, Black Camarèse (aka Vaccarèse), Black Picpoul, Black Terret in wines that reach these shores. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Dukes get the nod. And the thumbs-up! Plus a coffee coincidence at Coach House Café .

Dukes get the nod. And the thumbs-up! 

Plus coffee coincidence at Coach House Café 

A snap decision to check out Dukes in Carey’s Lane (Cork) for a light lunch paid off handsomely last Friday. We had quite a few choices in the narrow streets of the Huguenot Quarter before Dukes got the nod.

Being Friday, there was a queue, not a big one, but rather one that was constantly replenished by incoming customers. All worked smoothly, no fuss, no noises other than the orders and the responses, all calm, and politeness on both sides.


We read the boards as we waited and also the display cabinets. Soon it was our turn. CL checked that the Brunch Menu was still available (it was, but closed minutes later). We ordered, just the one course each, and headed for our table with the stand-up numbered sign.

Settled in, took our jackets off, put our glasses on, checked the phones and, in no time at all, our dishes arrived. 

CL’s pancakes, from that Brunch Menu, were colourful with plenty of fruit (strawberries and blueberries) and no shortage of maple syrup (bacon was an alternative accompaniment). In any case, the fruit, syrup and pancakes, an excellent combination, were well received and enjoyable and efficiently dispatched.

Chicken and Bacon Ciabatta

Indeed, she was waiting for me to finish up rather than the more usual opposite. But there was no pressure, never is. In fact, it was an excuse to pass over to her a decent sample of my Chicken and Bacon Ciabatta with Dubliner Cheddar and Ballymaloe Relish and the unexpected and very tasty salad (not listed on the menu). This item came from the regular lunch list and was very satisfactory indeed, getting thumbs up from both sides of the table.

The coffee has a high reputation here but unfortunately, we didn't have the extra time to indulge and had to make do with our glasses of water (even though I spotted local beer in the fridge. Next time.)

Dukes is a family-owned and family-run business which has been serving exceptional coffee and food to the people of Cork since 2005. “Since day one, the Dukes philosophy has been to create inclusive, welcoming, comfortable spaces. We currently operate two cafes in Cork, one on Carey's Lane and one in City Gate, Mahon we also run a catering business.”

Menu (French Church Street 25.08.2023)

A Coffee Coincidence

I had spotted in Dukes that their upstairs room is called Newsom Lounge but thought no more of it until 24 hours later when I walked into the Coach House Café in the grounds of Blarney Castle and saw, on the inside wall close to the blackboard, a big sign, an old one, with Newsom’s in large letters followed by Coffee Essence in slighter smaller letters.

Newsom and Sons, tea and coffee merchants, first opened in Cork in 1816, located at 40 and 41 Patrick Street (later occupied by Woolworths and now Permanent TSB) and their warehouses were in Carey’s Lane, now Dukes Café. 

James Joyce, or at least his father, had a fondness for Newsom’s apparently - see Irish Examiner article by Flicka Small. 

Dukes French Church St. (Duke's pic)

Duke’s Coffee Company, 4 Carey’s Lane, Cork. 

Carey's Lane, T12 X732, CORK +353 021 4905877

Also at The Plaza, City Gate, Mahon, T12CR23, CORK +353 021 4350139

Check more details (including menus) at

Monday, August 28, 2023

In Praise of East Cork. Food. People. Place. Worth a Visit!

 In Praise of East Cork.

Food. People. Place. Worth a Visit!

Updated August 2023
Clouds and wildflowers on Knockadoon

Friendly people, great food, coastal and inland attractions, make East Cork a gem of a place to visit. From the fantastic 13th century St Mary’s Collegiate Church in Youghal to high class Gardens and Arboretum at Fota, both free to enter, there is a treasure chest of places to visit in the area.
Fota Tiger

Let me take you on a trip to see a slice of it. We’ll also enjoy some delicious meals as East Cork is a foodie’s paradise with top-notch venues including Sage,  Ferrit & Lee, The Farmgate, Barnabrow (ideal for weddings and Sunday lunch), Midleton’s pioneering Farmers Market (every Saturday), CUSH (a Michelin Bib restaurant) and the food mecca of Ballymaloe.
Christy Ring

And, before or after Ballymaloe (which could take a while), do take the opportunity to visit the medieval town of Cloyne. It is one of the hidden gems of the area, its skyline dominated by the large medieval Round Tower and across the road is St. Colman's Cathedral built in 1270/80 and still in use. 

Famous Cloyne people include the 20th century hurler Christy Ring and the 18th century philosopher George Berkeley, both of whom are remembered here: Ring's statue (above right) is by the GAA field and Berkley's tomb is in the cathedral.
Lunch at The Farmgate

Coming from the city on the old Cork-Waterford road, look out for signs (on your right), just after Glounthaune, for the Harpers Island Wetlands. Enjoy the nature all around you, including the ample birdlife (get your photos from the hides there!).

Next, take the Cobh exit ramp and head for breakfast or lunch, right to Bramley Lodge, or left to The Bakestone Cafe in Fota Retail Park. Now, set up for the day, go over the nearby bridge to Fota Island and its many attractions.

If you have kids, go to the Wildlife Park; if not, walk through the renowned Fota Arboretum and maybe add a tour of the Georgian House or take a cuppa and a treat at the Bakestone Café here. If you like it around here, you may also try the high-class Fota Island Hotel and Golf Resort. Other top-class hotels in the area include the Raddison Blu (Little Island), Vienna Woods (Glanmire) and the Castlemartyr Resort with its Michelin starred Terre.
Planet Dessert at O'Mahony's Watergrasshill

Moving on, go over the Belvelly Bridge (take a long look at the recently renovated castle) and you’ll find yourself on Great Island where the cathedral town of Cobh is situated. Much to do here including the Sirius Art Centre, also the Titanic Trail and Spike Island, walking tours, harbourside bars and restaurants and of course the Cobh Heritage Centre which tells of forced deportations and also the tales of the ill fated liners, The Titanic and the Lusitania. 

Staying in Cobh? Try the Commodore (with its magnificent frontage by the promenade or, if you like it even closer to the water, there's the well-named Water's Edge. 

Need a snack and good coffee? Why not try Seasalt by the water. Also look out for Ellen's Kitchen and the Quays Bar & Restaurant. In Casement Square, The Arch Wine Bar/Café has been getting good reviews while Café Vega (not vegan) will feed you well. On the way, in or out, try the Boatyard container food village near the cross-river ferry; park, order, grab a table and enjoy those burgers or fish and chips or just a warming coffee.
Mitchel Hall on Spike Island

If you have four or more hours to spare, be sure to take the ferry over to Spike Island. It is a fantastic tour, with great guides, and so many interesting things to see and do, much of it related to its historic military and prison life, but also superb walks and views out over the harbour. Very Highly Recommended.

Fota House and arboretum; walled gardens too, plus a café

From Cobh, boats take you across to Spike and also on harbour tours. Maybe you’d just like to walk around the town; I did so recently, taking in the Holy Ground, the Titanic Garden and the Sonia O’Sullivan sculpture, and you may check it out here. Perhaps you'd prefer just to sit on the decking at The Titanic Bar & Grill and watch the boats go by.


Whiskey Sour in Jameson
Time now to head out of the islands and head east to Midleton and a tour of the Jameson Experience. If you give the right answers here, you’ll end up with a certificate of proficiency in whiskey!

No shortage of food stores, cafes and restaurants here (indeed there's a café in the distillery). Plenty more outside, including the accomplished Ferrit & Lee. Then there's the friendly Granary foodstore now well over 20 years in business. Not forgetting the excellent Farmgate. Stock up at The Grumpy Bakers
Cafés, including Arch Wine Bar, in Casement Square, Cobh.

From the famous dessert trolley at Ballymaloe House

There will be detours, of course. One that I like - you may need a driver here - is to head towards Ballyvolane House near Castlelyons. Lots to do here, including fishing and glamping, and it is also the home of Bertha's Revenge Gin!

Be sure and call to the 200-year-old O'Mahony's Pub in Watergrasshill. Superb local food and drink, music also, extensive sheltered outdoor areas and ways and means to keep the kids happy.
Featherblade of Beef, signature dish at Ferrit & Lee

You must stop in Ballymaloe, the home of modern Irish food. You could spend a day here. Maybe an overnight stay to sample the world-renowned cooking. Call to the café for a mid-afternoon or mid-morning coffee. And don’t forget Golden Bean coffee roaster Marc Kingston is also based here. Be sure to take a look at the impressive Cookery School gardens, not forgetting the Shell House and their truck cafe during the summer.
Halibut at Cush

Food trucks are quite a new phenomenon in East Cork and you'll find them wherever people gather including Ballybranigan beach, Knockadoon cliff walk, and Ardnahinch beach.
The famous Midleton Brick at Sage, Midleton

In the nearby seaside village of Ballycotton, take a stroll down to the pier and see the fishermen come and go, maybe take a boat trip to the lighthouse on the nearby island. If you feel you need to stretch your legs, then there is a spectacular walk  along the cliff tops.

After all that exercise, treat yourself to a gorgeous meal at Michelin-noted CUSH or Seachurch (with its Grab and Go Café). Don't overlook the Trawl Door (shop, café, ice-cream and deli) and the Trawler Boyz behind the Blackbird Pub. Enjoy lunch at Carewswood Café in the Castlemartyr garden centre of the same name and do check out their plants! Like to stay here for a night, then check out the Castlemartyr Resort.
View from the Bayview Terrace

Prefer a coastal stop, then the Garryvoe Hotel and its top notch Samphire Restaurant, with great views over the bay, is close at hand. And across the bay, there's its sister hotel, The Bayview; great views here also. Closed in mid-winter but, when open, check out the superb cooking of chef Ciaran Scully, an example here.
Ballycotton cliff walk

Youghal is the final town, on the Blackwater and just shy of the border with Waterford. On the way, you could stretch the legs in Killeagh’s Glenbower Woods, one of many attractive walks in the East Cork area.

Just a few minutes from the village, you'll find the lovely food market on Joe's Farm (the family themselves renowned for their vegetable crisps); you can find superb local produce here, much of it from the farm. They also hold special events for the public, eg cutting sunflowers in August and harvesting pumpkins later in the year.

Perhaps you'd prefer to take in the magnificent views on the two walks in nearby Knockadoon. In Youghal, take a boat trip on the Blackwater. If you want a mid-day salad or sandwich in the town, then the Sage Cafe will take good care of you; good coffee and food too at The Priory on Main Street. Just alongside is the newly refurbished Clock Gate Tower, a must visit!

After all the activity, you deserve to rest up for the night. Enjoy a meal in the Old Imperial Hotel on Youghal's main street, maybe just a drink in its old Coachhouse bar, maybe both! Aherne’s, of course, is famous for its seafood and they too have rooms. Before or after, stretch the legs on the relatively new Youghal Boardwalk that runs alongside the beaches.
Samphire at Garryvoe Hotel

And, before leaving the area, don’t forget to visit the gardens at Ballynatray House, a Blackwater gem.
Dinner at Brook Inn

If, at the end of a day's touring, you find yourself heading back towards the city, then do consider the Brook Inn near Glanmire for dinner. It is a lively buzzy place and the food is good there too. Or dine and stay at the lovely and comfortable Vienna Woods Hotel.

Enjoy East Cork, the food, the place and its people!

Ballynatray House, by the Blackwater

(revised August 2023)
If you have a cafe, restaurant, or visitor attraction, not listed here, please let me know by DM and I will do my best to visit with a view to inclusion in the next revision. You may also use the comment facility below.