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

CorkBillyBeers #40. Craft IPA with Torc Brewing, White Hag, Brú and O Brother.

CorkBillyBeers #40

Craft IPA with Torc Brewing, White Hag, Brú and O Brother.


Torc Kerry Natterjack IPA 5% ABV, 500 ml bottle Carry Out Killarney

In Castlegregory, County Kerry, there is a bar/restaurant called Natterjacks. It is named after the toads in the county. Both the bar and the toad can be happily noisy occasionally. This IPA is named for the toad who has a very loud and distinctive mating call amplified by the single vocal sac found under the chin of the male.

The toad has a yellow line down the middle of the back. The Torc beer is more orange than yellow with a soft white head. It is fairly hazy but you can just about see the fountains of bubbles rising towards the top.

Aromas are fairly delicate, mostly floral and resinous with a touch of citrus also. Flavours are piney and fresh, with a refreshing punch to it, and an excellent balance between malts and hops (bitterness is mid-range). If you want an IPA with a difference, this is well worth trying.

Very Highly Recommended.

Torc says: Our IPA packs a flavour punch, brewed using Irish Pale Ale Malt, Irish Wheat, and speciality Caramunich Malt. This blend, combined with select hops, results in a well-balanced India Pale Ale…. Ideal food pairings include pork, steak, BBQ, and spicy dishes.

And about those natterjacks? Well, the label tells us they are an endangered species in Ireland.  Their natural range is restricted to the coastal zones around Castlemaine Harbour and Castlegregory in Co Kerry. In Spring, when the male is most active, the loud croaking call can be heard from as much as one kilometre away.”

Geek Bits

SRM: 4.3 • IBU: 83 • ABV: 5%
Style: Indian Pale Ale • Released: 2023

Malts: Irish Pale Ale Malt, Irish Wheat, and speciality Caramunich Malt


White Hag Atlantean NEIPA 5.4% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

This hazy pale orange ale comes with a white foamy crown that soon dissipates. It is, of course, meant to be cloudy as that is part and parcel of a New England IPA. Aromas are of the tropics, nothing too strong though.

“Drink the beer as fresh as possible, when all the Alpha & Beta oils from the hops are the most powerful.” And I did just that and got a creamy rush of refreshment, a velvet glove equipped with a big, juicy, fruit punch. I’ll take a count and go again.

The White Hag has expended “copious amounts’ of American hops in this one. But the bitterness you might have had expected has been subdued by the use of oats and lactose that add a rich creaminess. It is not that unusual for New England IPAs to exhibit a tropical, juicy sweetness rather than the classic bitter.

  • The ABV is 5.4%, which is on the lower end for a NEIPA. This makes it a bit more sessionable.
  • The beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized.
  • The beer is best enjoyed fresh, as the hop flavours will fade over time.

Very Highly Recommended.

Breweries can come up with amazing yarns. This is the one on the Atlantean label: Atlantean is inspired by mythological sea journeys that took curious voyagers beyond the ninth wave in search of the magical Otherworlds and the secret treasures they held. For this IPA our inspiration has travelled back from the other lands of New England across the cloudy foam of the Atlantic.

Ingredients: water, lactose, barley, wheat, oats, yeast, hops


Brú Urban Jungle Citrus IPA 5.5% ABV,

“Amarillo, a pioneer of American hops, is blended with Ekuanot. This mix has created a vortex of fresh fruity flavours, above all the citrus side with a hint of pineapple sweetness.” That’s the intro to this IPA from Brú.

Colour is mid-gold, slightly hazy with a soft white head. The aromatics are moderate, mostly on the Citra side: lemon, orange and lime. The two hops combine well and give a complex mix on the palate, that “vortex of fresh fruit flavours” according to the brewery. Above all, it is refreshing, with a decent bittering at the finish.

Fruity and refreshing then and Highly Recommended.

Geek Bits

Hops: Amarillo, Ekuanot

Malts: Carapils, Golden Promise, Oat Flakes, Pale

Brú is proud to champion local ingredients. “We’re engaged with our community, working alongside local producers to bring our customers the best examples of Irish food and drink.

As an Irish company, we’re committed to supporting local charities and the communities around us. In brewing, our Irish partners include:

• Loughran Family Malt
• Wicklow Hops Company
• Malting Company of Ireland"

Brú, established in 2013 in County Meath, nowadays offer two core ranges “driven by the same brewing spirit”: BRÚ core and Urban Jungle. “BRÚ Brewery brews beer for all tastes, whether you’re a seasoned craft beer drinker, or just looking for a familiar quality pint.” The beers are widely available and well worth checking out.


O Brother Ikigai Oat Cream IPA 6.1% ABV, 440 ml can No 21 Coburg St

Some similarities between this and the Atlantean above. Colour is common, a hazy pale orange, though Ikigai has a larger head, soft and longer lasting. Aromas are subtle, citrus, grassy and grapefruit. These along with citrusy, spicy and herbal notes follow through just about to the palate, with hints of sweetness thanks to the lactose, and the expected creamy feel (from the oats) barely materialises as the beer seems to lose its way.

They say: “Ikigai is your true purpose in life or reason for being. We know what gets us up in the morning and keeps us going through the challenging times: Finding new and exciting ways to make delicious beer, meeting and working with like-minded independent souls who are pushing the boundaries of their fields and bringing it all together to create an elevated beer experience for all our thirsty beer drinkers. Beer is our Ikigai.”

Geek Bits

Label: Citra, Comet

Ingredients - Water, Malted Barley, Oats, Lactose, Hops, Yeast