Friday, October 20, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #50. Quite a quartet of craft with Kinnegar, Third Barrell, O'Hara's and Rodenbach.

CorkBillyBeers #50

Craft with Kinnegar, Thired Barrell, O'Hara's and Rodenbach.

Four beauties for you in #50


Kinnegar has a festival beer for you. 

Kinnegar Leaf Kicker 2023 Marzen, 5.9% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

Gorgeous golden/amber colour on this one, a repeat of last year's Leaf Kicker Märzen, one that I enjoyed immensely. And it's the same again in 2023. “You enjoyed it so much in 2022 (and we did too) that we’re giving it another whirl before departing this particular chapter of German lager tradition”, say Kinnegar, meaning that they’ll more than likely move on to another German lager style (festival related no doubt) for 2024.

There’s a lovely bubbly white head atop the gold/amber. It has an almost creamy mouthfeel.  This supple beer leads with its rich malts, along with a sweetish bagel flavour and a touch of caramel. It finishes clean and a little hoppy.

It is deeply refreshing and also well suited to food including BBQ, pizzas and tacos plus a chicken from the rotisserie. A deeply satisfying lager and  Very Highly Recommended.

Geek Bits


STYLE Märzen

COLOUR Dark amber

HOPS German noble

TASTE A deeply satisfying lager.

KNOWN AS Märzen was the original Oktoberfest beer

AVAILABILITY Autumn seasonal

440ML can and keg

BB: 04.05.24 (bouight 25.09.23)

Most of us who have hosted and or attended weddings will no doubt have enjoyed a beer or two. Very few weddings have started a beer trend. But that’s what happened when a royal wedding between Ludwig (the future king) and Therese took place in Bavaria in October 1810. That party was so good and the couple so popular that another party was held the following year and so Octoberfest was established.

By 1819, the festival had become a 2-week event (beer was just one strand), now organised by the city of Munich, and kicked off, as it does now, in mid-September. Marzen was the main style of beer for the festival and its name came from the fact that it was brewed in March to be at its best in Autumn.


Third Barrel Vulture Culture Cold IPA, 6.0% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

Third Barrel: “Clean, crisp and bursting with flavours of ripe tangerine, peach and papaya from a healthy dose of Idaho 7 Cryo and Luminosa hops.”

Rice is also included in the ingredients. The beer is fermented with lager yeast, add in those hops and you get, as promised, a clean refreshing and fruit-forward cold IPA.

From Idaho 7, comes pungent tropical fruit and citrus (think apricot, orange, red grapefruit, papaya) with big notes of resiny pine and hints of black tea.  Here though, we are talking Idaho7 Cryo and that, designed to be aromatic and flavour enhancing,  means you get an even more potent aroma and flavour and also good bitterness.

Add in the contribution from Luminosa and the whole beer is brighter, the tropical side enhanced and you know you’ve got a good thing going.

At least, you've got a good thing going if you know your stuff as well as Third Barrel does! Very Highly Recommended.

Most of us are familiar with the hop cone, used by brewers for centuries. Then along came hop pellets and now we have Cryo, which is so concentrated that they’ve become an essential in a brewer’s toolbox. 

The word Cryo (or similar) pops up a lot these days and you may be familiar with it through medicine (especially sports) where certain injuries can benefit from Cryotherapy Treatments, a kind of ultra-cold immersion. Cryo comes from the old Greek word for cold. 

On to the hops then which, using liquid nitrogen (which your doctor might use to make a wart vanish), the raw hops are quickly chilled to sub-zero temperatures — after that, the producers shatter it. More on the process here .


O’Hara’s Irish Red Ale, 4.3% ABV, 500 ml bottle Dunnes Stores 

The Carlow Brewing crew is quite proud of their red ale: “This Red stands out in this beer style category. The malt body is as impressive as a bock, albeit in a uniquely Irish way. With an incredibly smooth malt body complimented by caramel tones and perfectly balanced in bitterness, this Irish Red is much more complex than its mainstream rivals.”

O’Hara’s has a very dark red robe but that “dense lasting white head” fails to materialise, though I have to add subsequent top-ups did shape up with a coffee-coloured crown. Roasted caramel stands out in the aromatics. And you get that caramel and toffee flavour on the palate as well, thanks to the addition of a “pinch of roast barley during the brewing process”. The sweetness of the malt and traditional hop flavour combine well. A terrific example of the style gets a major thumbs up from this quarter.

Excellent balance and Very Highly Recommended


They say: Visually the red colour is intensified by the finest roast barley, while subtle hop additions in the kettle give just the right bitterness and aroma to craft this distinctive Irish Red Ale. The traditional red ale style is sweet malt based, dominated by caramel malts which give a sweet malt base complimented by nutty flavours in complete contrast to the Belgian Red ale style which has a distinctly sour character attributed to lactic acid.

For the Geek

Style: Traditional Red Ale

ABV: 4.3%

Plato °: 10.75°

IBU: 34 

Fermentation: Top fermentation 

Availability: Keg (carbonated), Bottle 50cl and 33cl (occasional 41L cask)

Serving Temperature: 6-8°C

Food Pairing: Pairs well with baked and roasted main courses from the oven such as beef hotpot. Also excellent with winter soups. A delicious accompaniment to mature cheddar or soft goat cheeses.

Glass: O’Hara’s tulip glass or O’Hara’s conical glass. 

BB: 28.08.24 (bought 20.09.24)


Rodenbach Grand Cru Flanders Red Ale, 6% ABV, 330 ml bottle Bradleys

Brownish red is the colour of our Rodenback Grand Cru Red ale. With a short-lived coffee-coloured head. Aromas are certainly on the sour side. There’s also quite a tang on the palate but also the sweet contribution of delicious fruit flavour. Complex and amazing and a totally different animal to the O’Hara’s Red Ale. 

The sourness in the aromas is repeated on the palate and, if you’re not prepared for it, you might as well throw your hat at it at this stage. Someone here has joked that a citron pressé would be a better drink. But remember, it is “probably the most award-winning beer in the world”. So pay a little heed and a little respect!

Soon, at least for me, that complex fruitiness begins to assert itself, both on the palate and all the way through to the finish and you realise there is much more to this than the obvious sour character. Sour comes up quite often but I’m pretty sure the word doesn’t appear on the label (lots of tiny print though!)

The Rodenbach Grand Cru sour red/brown at 6%, is a blend of 1/3rd young beer and 2/3 of beer aged two years in large oak vats, giving fruity taste, complexity and intensity. It even has its own AOC. It takes over two years to make (even the angel’s share happens here and they know the good things) and the young beer is added to restart fermentation. 

I throw in the odd non-Irish beer, not to be rated, but just for variety and as an example of what can be done by our much more experienced Belgian and German brewers. Perhaps a few of these could be enticed over here for collaborations.

The Rodenbach Grand Cru is the archetypal Flanders red-brown beer. Each of these beers is a unique blend, but they all share a brewing process characteristic of the area surrounding Roeselare and Kortrijk.

The typical sweet and sour taste of a Rodenbach Grand Cru is produced by a two-stage fermentation process called mixed fermentation, involving top-fermentation and bacterial fermentation using lactic acid bacteria. The Rodenbach Grand Cru matures in oak foeders, or barrels, over a period of two years, giving the beer a unique, complex fruitiness that is reminiscent of wine.

Rodenbach, the mother beer, is usually one-quarter mature beer to three-quarters young beer. When it comes to Rodenbach Grand Cru, the blend is two-thirds mature beer with one-third of a young brew added.

By the way, there is a series of these Rodenbachs and do watch out for the Rodenbach Caractère Rouge. It is billed as a red/brown sour and it is sour but also packs amazing fruitiness. The beer is macerated with fresh cherries, raspberries and cranberries and, after that, is matured in oak barrels.

BB: 15.12.25 (bought 25.09.23)

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