Thursday, May 9, 2024

Have you tried the Spailpín Saison? On the craft trail with Killarney Brewing and Wicklow Wolf

On the craft trail with Killarney Brewing and Wicklow Wolf

Have you tried the Spailpín Saison?

Killarney Spailpín Saison 6.0% ABV, 750 ml bottle at the brewery

When you pour the Spailpín Saison (from its large bottle!), you will notice an abundance of tiny bubbles rising through the golden amber liquid and the soft white head. The aroma is mostly floral, with a light wheat note and a hint of spice. Refreshing and easy to drink, it is one of the better Irish saisons. Very Highly Recommended.

I wouldn't mind comparing it, head-to-head, with the

superb one that Mayo’s Mescan produces. Both breweries have Belgian connections. Bart, a co-founder at Mescan, is Belgian, while Killarney's Head Brewer Mike honed his craft there.

Indeed, this saison is one of Mike’s favourite beers, where sharp, spicy notes from the yeast combine with a unique choice of French hops to create aromas of apple, pear, and melon - all balanced with a light wheat flavour. Summer perfection. Exclusively available in both the brewery’s Killarney taprooms, at Fossa and in the original on the Muckross Road.

Saison is known as a farmer's ale, dating back to the Belgian countryside in the 1700s, according to Killarney Brewing. It was brewed in the winter season for drinking in the summer by farm labourers and was also known as a table beer. In the past, its ABV was much lower than it is now, as employers didn’t want their workers tipsy all day. Because it had to be kept fresh for six months or so, extra hops were added to enhance shelf life. That means bitter rather than sweet.

A "Spailpín" was a seasonal and itinerant farmworker in Ireland from the 1700s to the early 1900s. They were poorer than most and would travel from farm to farm, hiring themselves out. It was a tough life, and they were often harshly treated.

Killarney's Saison is inspired by the traditional Belgian farmhouse style and brewed using Belgian malts and traditional brewing techniques. The water for the beer comes from Mangerton Mountain, home of the Devil's Punch Bowl.

Wicklow Wolf Barbershop Quartet West Coast IPA 5.5% ABV, 440ml can Bradleys

Pale Amber is the colour of this celebratory West Coast IPA from Wicklow Wolf. Head of Production John Allen had a 40th birthday to shout about and neatly produced the beer to cheer.

Nice work if you can get it. Nice beer too, in fairness, and Highly Recommended. Hoppy aromas greet you to the glass. The colour is a pale amber, a slightly hazy one. It is hops all the way, quite a line up of West Coast favourites, and the bitterness holds sway right to the harmonious end. Happy (belated) birthday, John. And you can be sure there was harmony too in the Happy Birthday song, thanks to his new-found hobby in the form of his local choir, hence the name of this beer.

Hops:  Amarillop, Bravo, Galaxy, Stra Cix.

Killarney Golden Spear Blonde 4.8% ABV, 500 ml bottle at the brewery

This blonde ale gets its complex malt character from a bunch of specialty malts and a touch of wheat, balanced with just the right amount of fruity hop flavour. The formula certainly worked. This is one of the most popular beers, easily obtainable, sometimes on draught, mostly in bottles, in County Kerry. I certainly have no problem in getting it whenever I’m in the kingdom.

Refreshing from first contact, with that malt character showing well. There’s a modest floral aroma and enough hops on the palate to balance this easy-drinking beer. Easy-drinking for me means no rush, take it easy and enjoy. As you’d expect with an IBU of 30, the finish is quite dry, lipsmackingly so! Very Highly Recommended.

As with all the Killarney beers, there’s a story. You may have noticed that its full title is Golden Spear Blonde. Fionn Mac Cumhaill, Ireland’s mythical warrior and hunter, was attacked by a magical, ferocious boar while vacationing on Torc mountain. With a single blow, hunter Fionn killed the lunging boar in mid-air with his fabled golden spear.

While Killarney Brewing and Distilling have a magnificent new facility out in Fossa (on the road to Killorglin), their first taproom, located in the heart of Killarney town, is housed in the original Killarney Mineral Water drinks facility on the Muckross Road.

Killarney Brewing Taproom Address
Muckross Rd, Killarney, Co. Kerry, V93 RC95


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