Thursday, June 20, 2024

On the Craft Trail with Hopfully, Eight Degrees, Kildare Brewing and Chouffe

On the Craft Trail with Hopfully, Eight Degrees, Kildare Brewing and Chouffe.

Hopfully Eyecatcher Session Pale Ale, 4.8% ABV, 440 ml can 


Hopfully welcome a new brewer and a new beer.

Pale orange, close to lemon, is the colour of this session ale by Hopfully. It is also hazy as might expect from a New England style. Juicy stuff on the palate where exotic fruits lead the way before a dry and slightly tart

finish. Easy drinking and highly recommended.

Hopfully welcome the new beer: “Our newest addition to the core range, Eyecatcher, tastes like summer. This New England Session Pale Ale has an approachable 4.8% ABV, a hazy body, high drinkability, and loads of tropical fruit juiciness. Expect notes of mango and pineapple, a hint of herbal flavour, and a dry, lightly bitter finish.”

They’ve also welcomed Oliver McAdam a new senior brewer to their brewery in Waterford. 

Oliver is from Liverpool but his brewing journey began over 10 years ago while living in Brazil. It was in 2019 when he took the plunge to take on brewing as a full-time profession.

"I love all things beer, from big hazy pales, thicccc impy stouts, to crushable crispy bois (lagers). But I do hold a special passion for big Belgian styles and Saisons, so keep an eye out for some exciting things coming out in a near future. Excited for what we have in stall at Hopfully and to be part of Ireland's ever growing craft beer scene.”

Geeky Bits:

Style: Session Pale Ale

Hops: Azacca, Mosaic and Ekuanot

Malts: IPA Malt, Pale Malt, Vienna, wheat and oats.

Artwork: Pipe and Pallet

Brewed: Waterford

ABC: 4.8%


Eight Degrees The Crux Double IPA 7.7% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

Embrace The Crux and the Pacific hops. "A little beauty".

Our double IPA from a restored Eight Degrees has a golden/amber colour, slightly hazy, and a soft white head. Citrus aromas from the Pacific hops are a welcome variation on the familiar all-American theme. Lots of fruit, love that mango hit and the citrus, grapefruit and lime wake you up, catch your attention and you say to yourself “you little beauty”. As with most little beauties, don’t rush this one with its 7.7% punch in amongst all that citrus from the Pacific fields.

Now my own crux looms. Decisions. Decisions. Will I have another? What crux? The crux only arises if you have no Crux. Very Highly Recommended.

The hops used are Amarillo and Motueka. The first, from Washington state, is known for its citrus flavours and aromas and Eight Degrees applied it in the kettle. For the dry-hop, they turned to Motueka, from New Zealand with its distinctive fresh crushed citrus, its lively lemon and lime tones with background hints of tropical fruit. The Mitchelstown crew got the best from both in Crux.

The brewery is happy to have this one out in the world and “drinking very nicely” indeed: “Lots of ripe stone fruit, sweet mango and a deliciously bitter twist of grapefruit and lime coming through towards the end.”

Food Matches: The Crux Double IPA plays well with smoke, bringing lots of tropical fruit to the party. Big and bold, these flavours will complement the rich flavours of smoked beef brisket or smoked pulled barbecued jackfruit for a summer’s day lunch in the sunshine. Use the grapefruit and lime bitterness to contrast with a great Irish farmhouse blue cheese: we’re unashamed fans of our local Cashel Blue, the older and funkier the better. For something a little more subtle, pair the beer with a crème brûlée – perhaps one flavoured with orange and cardamom – taking full advantage of those boozy notes to cut through the creamy dessert.


Kildare Brewing Lager 4.3% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

"the pinnacle of our brewing expertise"

Don’t you just love it when a beer behaves as it should? Clean golden colour, bubbles streaming incessantly towards the soft white top. And those malty hints in the aromas. Malt also on the palate with a modest hint of sweetness and a refreshing finish at the end. We are talking lager here and the obliging beer in question is produced by Kildare Brewing.

The young Kildare brewery is delighted with this lager, calling it “the pinnacle of our brewing expertise”.  It is indeed clean, crisp, and simple. No surprise that it is their most popular beer. A light malt flavour and Noble German hops combine well here. It is filtered to perfection and is lager at its most refreshing. Try with chicken, pork and salads. Highly Recommended.

Or with a meal at the family-friendly gastropub, Lock 13, that overlooks the charming Grand Canal. In Poland, the Flanagans spotted quite a few microbreweries attached to small pubs. 

They began to dream and, for Barry (the Kildare brewer) and Ola Flanagan, it became a reality in 2017, when they started Kildare’s first brewpub. Here they produce a range of craft beers using locally sourced roasted barley and malt. Barry is a qualified beer sommelier and expertly pairs their craft beers with the restaurant dishes.

They hold Brewery Tours every Saturday and Sunday so “do come check out behind the scenes by booking a day tour here.  

Chouffe Cherry 8.00% ABV, 330 ml bottle, No 21

Had been keeping my Cherry Chouffe for a real fine day and that arrived at the weekend, along with a box of Wexford strawberries. And, since Couffe recommended “almonds, raspberries, cherries and strawberries” to pair with the beer, you know what happened in the back garden.

This Cheery beer is fruity, rounded and strong and a Belgian classic. It is, of course, quite strong, so be sure and sip. Fruity notes (mostly cherry!) in the aromas. It is soft on the palate with cherry flavours of course and has a satisfying finish with a tart streak.

I enjoyed the beer (and the strawberries) and I always enjoy visiting the Chouffe website - they enjoy a laugh. Check it out yourself here 

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