Showing posts with label Ale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ale. Show all posts

Monday, August 28, 2017

An Ale of Two Families. Brewery Lost in a Bet.

An Ale of Two Families.

Brewery Lost in a Bet. 
L-to-r: Bridget Smithwick, Alan Smithwick and Ian Hamilton (brewer).

Deauville, a long-time magnet for Europe’s rich and famous, was all abuzz for the races in August 1918, even though the Great War was still being waged. One Irishman had set his sights on an aristocratic French fillé. He had opposition from a Venetian count. Sullivan, a gambler rather than a brewer, bet the family brewery on a horse to impress the Frenchwoman. He lost and, not fancying a duel with the count, had to settle his debts.

In Kilkenny, as a result of the wager, the Sullivan brewery (established 1702), eight years before Smithwick’s, was taken over by their rivals (“in a kind of a white knight rescue”) and the Sullivan name vanished from the enterprise. Another hundred years on and, in 2014, Diageo moved the production of Smithwick's to Dublin.
Pierce Brosnan, another Irishman whose name pops up in Deauville

But the Sullivan story has been revived over the past year or two with the emergence of a new Sullivan brewery, backed by the two intertwined families, the Sullivan’s and, yes, the Smithwick’s (keen to keep Kilkenny’s brewing tradition going). 

And, already, their Maltings Red Ale has been declared the “best Draught Ale in the World” at the International Brewing Awards, also known as the Oscars of the beer world. They are the 1st Irish Brewery ever to win this competition that hosted over 1,200 beers from 50 countries. Isn't that a nice welcome back for Sullivan’s?

Sullivan’s were represented in Cork City Hall at the weekend for the Franciscan Well Great Irish Beer Festival. Bandon educated brewer Ian Hamilton said their ale can be found in Ireland, England and Scotland. C & C is their distributor but Sullivan’s “is totally independent”. 

I had missed out on a chance to sample the ale on a recent visit to Kilkenny so was delighted to try it in the City Hall. It is a delightful refreshing beer, with a ruby tinted colour, lots of flavour, yet very well balanced with an ABV of just four per cent. Three darker malts and three hops are merged here, so there’s a lot going on. Yet, it is so well made and balanced that it is easy drinking and easy to see why the judges went for it at the International Beer Awards in the UK.

Well worth seeking out. And if you are in Kilkenny why not visit their Taproom, an outlet for the Smithwick partnership with direct descendants of the Sullivan family. Together with Ian Hamilton, one of Ireland’s most eminent contemporary master-brewers, they are bringing artisan brewing back to Kilkenny. It’s not just beer at the Taproom. You can have a pizza from their wood-fired oven and other tasty dishes as well. Prefer to eat and drink outdoors? Well, they have a fully covered outdoor, heated seating area. Details here
Ready to roll at Cork City Hall
See full account of the Beer Fest here

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Three Wines. And a few beers!

Three Wines. And a few beers!
Valdivia Dorius Amontillado seco sherry, Jerez (DO), 18%, €17.85 (50cls) Karwig Wines.

This dry amontillado is the perfect match for meat dishes and mature cheese and vanished very quickly here, where it was used as an aperitif - so quickly, I didn't have time to take any notes. 

To get the best from its generous aromas and flavours, serve it at between 12 and 14 degrees. It has lovely amber colour, a rich almond nose, a nutty and tangy flavour and the superb finish goes on and on. And you can get all this from just one little sip. Very Highly Recommended. Enjoy, with all five senses, as they invite on the bottle.

Exquisite Collection Cremant du Jura (AOP) Chardonnay 2014, 12%, €11.29 Aldi

Had to pick up a sparkling wine in a hurry and got this Brut (dry) in at the local Aldi. A few hours later, I was very impressed with it. This sparkling Chardonnay, made using the same methods as they use in making champagne, was perfect for our little celebration. It is not lacking in complexity, has light fruit flavours, a hint of biscuit (that you find in champagnes), and a fine finish. Good price too. Very Highly Recommended.

Barefoot Merlot (California), 13.5%, €10.00 O’Donovan’s Off Licence
“Wine tastes better in a tee than in a tux”, Barefoot say. So you’re thinking cheap and cheerful, nothing wrong with that and nothing wrong with this Merlot either.  This is smooth and warming, full of raspberry and blackberry flavours, mild tannins, well balanced too and with a decent finish. It is an easy-drinker and good value. 

Beer Bullets

Cloudwater Session IPA Wai-iti 4.5%
Thought this was an American brewery but they are from Manchester. Brexit or not, this is an excellent beer, a superb IPA. You’ll get hoppier but the balance here is spot-on and as a result, the beer is well worth a try. You may not get it in Old Trafford or The Etihad but you’ll certainly find a bottle in Bradley’s.

St Bernardus Wit, 5.5%, 

St Bernardus has quite a smile and his abbey beers deliver every time. As they do with this perfect wheat beer. This traditional Belgian wheat beer is more or less a perfect example of the type, with clove notes, very refreshing, your perfect thirst quencher. Thirsty? Bradley’s have this answer.

St Bernardus Abt 12, 10%
Another big delivery from the Belgians, the big here referring to the alcohol at 10%. Not a big worry though; the beer is perfectly balanced between malty, bitter and sweet. It has fruity aromas, is full bodied with a hoppy touch on the finish.

They say: It is the pride of our stable, the nec plus ultra of our brewery. Abbey ale brewed in the classic 'Quadrupel' style of Belgium's best Abbey Ales.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

On Bread and Beer. And Beer in Bread.

Not Bread Alone!
Man does not live by bread alone! Not sure that Arbutus Bread would go along with that. Especially after their latest loaf, a very tasty white bread that is made with, among other things, beer from Eight Degrees Brewing Company in Mitchelstown.

Picked up a loaf in Bradley’s at the weekend. It didn't last long at all. What a crust. Couldn't wait to try it. Just added some Glenilen butter for the first slice. Fantastic. Some homemade gooseberry jam for the second slice. Superb. Ain’t going to tell you about the next slice. Nor the one after that. Experience it for yourself.

Am I the only one thinking that the Kinsale Pale Ale is the best around? Renewed acquaintance with this gem, by Black’s, in Jacque’s last week and thought it was just outstanding. Loved the way the flavours spread over the palate from the first sip and that dry clean lingering finish. Indeed, linger is the word. Took my time sipping, the better to enjoy every single every drop.

The very next day I called in to Bradley’s to get a wee stock of the KPA and here Michael Creedon,helpful as always, introduced me to the latest beer from Black’s, Ireland’s first Black IPA. Another gem that might well confuse you because of the dark colour and chocolate and coffee tones. Very happy with that one, though I must confess I’d have a slight preference for the KPA.

Kinsale have moved up to the popular 500ml size and I'd like to see more brewers follow suit and that includes Franciscan Well. I do like a wheat beer and the Well’s Friar Weisse is a favourite. Up to recently it was available only on draught and in that form I enjoyed a few out in Blairs Inn. Now is it in bottle but only in the 330ml size, same as their Rebel Red. Still, bottle size notwithstanding, it is a very tasty drop - love those refreshing flavours.

Tasting Notes
Kinsale Pale Ale ABV 5% - An exciting fusion of Cascade and Citra hops inspires tropical and citrus flavours that are beautifully balanced with the malty sweetness. The taste dollops a smack of citrus onto the palate – grapefruit and lime – alongside more sweet pineapple and tangerine a decent little malt body fairly creamy, with definite biscuit and cake-dough sweetness and straw overall very well balanced. Clean and crisp citrus bite to finish on, which lingers for a while alongside the sweet tropical fruit notes.  - Alltech Dublin Beer cup bronze medal winner 2013.

New from Blacks of Kinsale, Ireland's first Black IPA! A unique beer that ambushes your senses, it pours dark with a creamy beige head but tastes light and hoppy! Complex hoppy fruity flavours and aromas mixed with roasty bitter chocolate and coffee tones. Low carbonation for a smooth stout like finish. Dressed in black, charged with hops and ready to rock.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wild Honey Inn. A special place.

Wild Honey Inn

 Any county that can hold a banquet with all the food and drink coming from within its own border, as Clare did in Ennis on October 5th, must have some good restaurants. And there are some brilliant ones in the Banner – they regularly turn up on the awards list - but the one we choose on a recent overnight stay was the Wild Honey Inn  in Lisdoonvarna. In a relaxed roadside pub just outside the town, Aidan McGrath turns out delightful dishes.

We called pretty early, just after six and, having been on the go all day, had a good appetite. First though, a drink. Spotted some craft beer on the counter and picked a bottle of the Copper Coast Red Ale made by the Dungarvan Brewing Company. Settled into our comfortable seat and, with help from the friendly waitress, we ordered.

As it turned out, our dishes were all off the Specials menu, with the exception of the exceptional dessert. My starter was the Ham Hock Terrine, celeriac remoulade, salsa verde (€8.90). Quality ingredients in a well presented dish and the same could be said about CL’s starter of Dill Cured Salmon, pickled fennel and cucumber, sauce gravadlax (8.90). Two super tasty starters and we had confirmation that all good things we had heard about the Inn were true.
 We were tempted by the Halibut Troncon with Saffron ratte potato but both went for the other special: Veal Feather Blade, pearl barley, carrot and cumin puree, young leeks (€19.90). Aidan said this was a rare cut and he sure made the best of it.

The whole dish looked well and tasted well. You could have cut the meat with your spoon and the use of the pearl barley was also a rare delight. Even the potatoes that came as a side were top notch. Quality all the way from the farm to the kitchen to the table.

The Apple and Blueberry crumble that we shared for dessert was another winner. The humble apple was the main ingredient, a beautiful example of the fruit, cut into plentiful mini chunks, so juicy. And the fruit wasn't buried under a mound of crumble, just a thin tasty sheet. A gorgeous combination to end a gorgeous meal.

With the friendliness of Aidan and his crew and the top drawer food, the Wild Honey was one of the highlights of our trip to the delightful county of Clare, a place where there is so much to see and do, not to mention so much to eat and drink!

 Also visited: Cliffs of Moher  The Burren Brewery  St Tola Goat Cheese Lahinch area Ballyvaughan Tea and Garden Rooms The Burren

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Home on the Range. Sierra Nevada.

Home on the Range. Sierra Nevada.

Summerfest Crisp Summer Lager 2012, 5%
Pilsner style for warm days, just like this week! This lager is crisp, refreshing, friendly, well balanced with a dry finish.

Kellerweis Hefeweizen, 4.8%
Hazy golden colour, good flavours with clove coming through. Well made, tasty.  And very smooth. Note that it has special pouring instructions.

Pale Ale, 5.6%
This multi medal winner is their flagship beer. It has a deep amber colour and is full bodied. The purity of the ingredients is stressed and it is well balanced, flavoursome and tasty.

Torpedo Extra IPA, 7.2%
This is the big one, big on flavour, big on hops, big on bitterness and on abv. Not for beginners! It has the highest bitterness of the four at 65!

 My preferences here are for the two lightweights, the Summerfest and the Kellerweis.

Wisdom Winner
S-Ale-vation though is found much closer to home in a bottle of Wisdom Ale (by Elbow Lane). It has an abv of 4.5% and, like the Nevada range,  is available from Bradley's, North Main Street.

Took a sip of the dark amber liquid and found it more rounded than many others, no extremes of flavour, no overload. It has a medium body with toasted malt (even chocolately)  flavours. Brewed to go well with food or as a stand alone pint, I reckon they've succeeded!

My second tasting and my opinion that this is the ale for me is reinforced. The range of Sierra Nevada beers are available at Bradley's, North Main Street as is the Wisdom Ale. Check out their new website here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sail Away with a Galway Hooker

Sail Away with a Galway Hooker
Galway Hooker, Irish Pale Ale, 4.3% abv, Hooker Brewery, Roscommon.

Thanks to a recent Twitter competition win, I’m getting the chance to sample some of the craft beers being distributed by Galvin Wines

First on the agenda was the Galway Hooker. This nicely judged balance of malted barley and malted wheat, with the other usual natural ingredients, gives a good rounded body and a fresh feeling in the mouth, smooth rather than sharp.

With its relatively full flavour, this is not just a summer thirst quencher but a beer for all seasons. So, do take the time to savour. Might even go well with a bit of “peasant” grub, something like bacon and cabbage, shepherd’s pie, mussels...

Maybe make up a full dedicated menu as they do in some of the “cidreries” in the Basque Country that I’ve just visited. Start off, say, with a couple of tasty sausages, followed by a big bowl of mussels, a fish course, meat course and dessert, all accompanied by the tasty Hooker!

I had something like that in Hendaye a few weeks back, a string of courses and as much cider as I wanted for about €32.00. If they can do that on the shores of Baie Chingoudy why not on Galway Bay? Maybe even on a hooker!

Thursday, January 5, 2012



Craft Brewing has taken off in a big way this last 12 months but the pioneering Franciscan Well  on Cork’s North Mall still has a trick or two up its sleeve.

And indeed, the brewers there have produced two of the best beers of the year in my opinion: The Shandon Century Extra Stout and the formidable Bellringer, both limited editions.

The Shandon made its debut at the end of October. This was a fabulous stout and I was lucky enough to get a bottle or two from the 1,000 made, also enjoyed a couple of tastings, each with cheese.

And perhaps the best match-up came during the Jazz Weekend when Willie Healy of URRU matched it with a mature Hegarty’s Cheddar at the pub itself. Memorable stout – like to see it back again sometime soon!

The Bellringer, also a 1000 bottle run, came about a month later and only last Monday came the news from the brewery: “Bellringer is sold out. Next batch will be a bottle conditioned I.P.A. “ You might be lucky as, of yesterday, Bradley’s in North Main Street still had a few bottles left. I finished mine off last night and was delighted with it, perhaps the best Irish ale I’ve tasted. Like to see that come back as well but in the meantime I’m looking forward to the IPA.

And another Franciscan event to look forward to has just been announced: “Our annual Cask Ale Festival will take place on the 10th, 11th and 12th Feb. It’s going to be one of the best ones yet!” They usually keep to their word so mark this in your diary.

All goes to show there is life in the Old North Mall dog yet and those newbies, promising and all as they are, will have their work cut out to top the Cork star. We can only benefit from the brewing battles ahead!

Monday, October 17, 2011



Never know what you’ll find when you visit Bradley’s in North Main Street. A bit of a sweeping statement so let’s adjust to something more like the truth: “I never know what I will leave with when I visit Bradley’s.”

Called at the weekend with a simple enough mission: to replenish my stock of Stonewell Cider and also to add the sweet PX to the Oloroso and Amontillado already bought from their brilliant Lustau sherry range.

That was easily accomplished, all in stock. But I also left with the 8 Degrees Brewing Company’s  Knockmealdown Porter and that was the first thing I tried out. It is the latest addition to the Mitchelstown based brewery’s range and follows two well received ales.

So this is the first porter. It is black (as you might expect!), rich with a chocolatley flavour and well balanced (some old world bitter hops were used). It leaves, all too soon, with a longish dry finish. I like this one, another reason to call to North Main Street. Will have to get a bigger stronger bag! Maybe a porter to carry my porter. Bottle size is 33cl and the ABV is 5%.

Had been traipsing round town looking for Port glasses, without success. Tried TKMax as a last resort. They didn't have them either but did have sets of two Riedel wine glasses at the knockdown price of €15.00. Bought a couple of sets and tried them out over the weekend with a couple of Spanish reservas. But that’s another post!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

PALE ALE (and maybe a pancake or two?)

 (and pancakes?)

Hot on the heels of their Dublin launch, announced earlier this week, Metalman Brewing Company will be bringing their flagship beer, Metalman Pale Ale, to Revolution Gastropub in Waterford on Tuesday March 8th.

The eponymous Metalman Pale Ale is a golden ale, bursting with citrusy hop flavours, fresh-tasting and balanced. Coming in at an ABV of 4.3%, it will be a real thirst-quencher.

The crew behind Metalman Brewing created the inaugural batch of their beer on Friday February 4th at a micro-brewery in Templemore, and will be road-testing the first pints at renowned specialist beer bar, the Bull & Castle, in Dublin on Thursday March 3rd.

Gráinne Walsh, director of Metalman Brewing, says “we’re really excited about having Metalman Pale Ale out in bars soon, and even more excited about getting our Waterford brewery up and running this summer.”

Owner of Revolution Gastropub, Jim Gordon, is also looking forward to the launch. “It’s really great to see a local brewery starting up in Waterford again – I believe it’s long overdue, and look forward to seeing what these guys are going to be producing for us in the future.”

Spoke to Gráinne today re stockists and she says they are still finalising the initial list of suppliers, and she'll update the blog as they are confirmed, “But for now, I can tell you that we will be in Revolution Bar in Waterford city and The Vic in Tramore. In Dublin, we'll be in the Bull and Castle in Christchurch, and Mulligan’s in Stoneybatter. More to come soon, I hope! We're starting with draft initially, but hope to have bottles out later on this year.”

Metalman Brewing are dedicated to increasing the range of flavoursome, authentically Irish beers on offer to today’s consumer. “We want to provide a delicious, high-quality choice to people whenever they order a beer, in addition to the option to support a local Irish business; Metalman Pale Ale is our first step on that road, but expect to see other beers appearing later in 2011” added Gráinne.

Metalman Pale Ale will be available on draft in Revolution Gastropub, John St., Waterford, from Tuesday March 8th 2011.

Metalman Brewing was established in December 2010, and premises are currently being finalised for the installation of brewery equipment in Waterford. The name of the brewery comes from a local landmark in Tramore, County Waterford, which is a navigational aid erected in the 19th century to keep seafarers on a safe route.