Showing posts with label Ardkeen QFS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ardkeen QFS. Show all posts

Sunday, May 23, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #52. On the craft journey with Amber & Red Ales.

A Quart of Ale± #52

On the craft journey with Amber & Red Ales. 

Do you know your amber from your red?

This may help. Then again it may not!

"Amber ale is an emerging term used in Australia, France and North America for pale ales brewed with a proportion of amber malt and sometimes crystal malt to produce an amber colour generally ranging from light copper to light brown. A small amount of crystal or other coloured malt is added to the basic pale ale base to produce a slightly darker colour, as in some Irish and British pale ales.In France the term "ambrée" is used to signify a beer, either cold or warm fermented, which is amber in colour; the beer, as in Pelforth Ambrée and Fischer Amber, may be a Vienna lager, or it may be a Bière de Garde as in Jenlain Ambrée. In North America, American-variety hops are used in varying degrees of bitterness, although very few examples are particularly hoppy. Diacetyl is barely perceived or absent in an amber ale." Source: Wikipedia

Brú Red Ale, 4.2%, 330ml can Bradleys

It’s a red ale and it is red with a pillowy off-white, coffee dusted head that shrinks as you drink. Toffee and caramel in the aromas. And that continues onto the palate, impressive entry as the malt and the hops each get a share of the limelight as the pleasant experience continues. 

They say: An aromatic red ale for today’s drinker…BRÚ Red Ale is a sophisticated and modern beer.

They also say: Mirroring the unwavering strength of Celtic figure Cuchulainn, the red ale is a mighty example of the traditional Irish style.

Well, modern or traditional, it certainly is mighty!

They say: Alongside our own range of craft beers, we also showcase the best of Ireland’s exciting drinks industry, working closely with high quality Irish breweries, distillers and cider makers. We champion local ingredients and modern Irish fare across all sites and our staff are knowledgeable and passionate about Irish produce. Each of our venues has a distinct personality but all are committed to providing a proper Céad Mile Fáilte – a hundred thousand welcomes. In short, you can expect good beergood food and good company at every BRÚ Hospitality site.

Porterhouse Red Irish Ale, 4.2%, 500ml bottle via Bradleys

Red, not surprisingly (they use Crystal Malt), is the colour of this Porterhouse ale and there is a light coffee coloured head, a soft frothy one that hangs about a bit. There’s a tarty streak in the fruity palate and also a decent hint of the malt. I liked this really well-balanced effort a few months back and am just as impressed this time. Excellent from start to finish.

They say: Irish red ales? Yes, we know. Sweet, a bit cloying and, well, no thanks. So, it was brave of us (we say bravely) to put the words “red ale” after our own moniker. Why the hell would we do that? Because this is a real red ale, ….But sweet? No way. Balanced, yes. Fresh, yes. Aromatic, yes. In fact, we say yes, please.

Geeky Bits

Malts: Pale Ale Malt, Crystal Malt, Wheat Malt, Black Malt

Hops: Galena (US, fruity), Nugget US, (bittering) , East Kent Goldings (UK, aromatic)

ABV: 4.2%

 IBUs: 33

Kinnegar Devil’s Backbone Amber Ale 4.9%, 440ml can Ardkeen QFS 

Amber’s the colour for sure, a dark amber at that, lots of fizz in the haze. First sip introduces you to its chocolate/caramel backbone and you realise this is a serious drink, pretty robust too, a full-bodied drink you can’t ignore. Dark fruit flavours on the palate, a very satisfying bitterness as well (hops are a mix of European and American) and then there’s a lip-smacking dry finish to boot. Kind of Beamish light with a Guinness bite.

I was wondering, at first, does this belong with the red ales. Seen this classed as pale ale but a better fit in red. Kinnegar themselves confirm it as “A refreshing contemporary take on a traditional Irish Red. Versatile with food and equally enjoyable on its own.” And more good news: Devil’s Backbone is available all year round. 

Dead Centre “Sham Maths” Amber Ale, 6.2%, 440ml via 

Dead Centre’s well-made well-balanced Amber Ale has, you’ve guessed it, an amber colour (Crystal Malt again!) with a nice soft head. Quite a delicious harmony, with toffee and caramel playing the lead, follows on the palate, and that pleasant balance is further enhanced by a judicious use of bittering hops. By the way, you don’t get too many Ambers (or Reds) at 6.2 abv

Athlone’s Dead Centre is Westmeath’s first and only craft brewery. They say: We’re big fans of Amber Ale at Dead Centre Brewing, so when we decided to make a hoppy American Amber…we wanted to do it right…and that’s exactly what we did! A marriage of Pale Malt, Munich Malt, Chocolate Malt and Crystal Malt combine to form a beautifully full and sweet foundation for this deep copper ale that pours with a smooth, firm head. Simcoe and Centennial are the stars of the show on the hops front. Clocking in at 6.2%, Sham Maths is the perfect step up from our core IPA, Marooned.

Dead Centre Brewing may be found on Custume Quay in Athlone. It offers, outside of Covid restrictions, a combined experience including brewery tour, beer tasting and pizza. Now there’s a combination that’s hard to resist.  

Monday, March 1, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #37. Moving on over to craft with Euro-style Lagers!

A Quart of Ale± #37

Moving on over to craft with Euro Lagers!

Augustiner Edelstoff Münchner Bier (GAA), 5.6%, 500ml bottle via Bradleys

Put this in a tall slim glass as recommended and you get a head that looks like a fluffy ice-cream and below that a myriad little bubbles race upwards in the light gold liquid. Its attractiveness is enhanced by a hint of exotic fruit aromas. And that sweet fruit also pops up briefly on the palate but soon the hops have their say as this satisfying beer heads towards a full and persistent finish. Love the mouthfeel, the smooth full body and the flavour. No wonder this historic brewery (founded 1328) is a name well-known far beyond Bavaria and Germany. 

Serve at 5 - 7 ° C  and you’ll find it goes well with typical Bavarian dishes, such as white sausage with sweet mustard or with roast pork with sauerkraut. Its mildly bitter taste makes it a perfect beer for the sunny outdoors and can also be drunk with many other dishes.

It is said that the Augustiner Bräu is the oldest Munich brewery. Originally founded (1328) by an ecclesiastical order, it was privatised in 1829. The good quality of the historical recipes was retained and this has given the brewery a terrific base. Traditionally brewed according to the German Purity Law, as you’d expect, Augustiner Edelstoff is praised as one of the best beers from Bavaria.

Yellowbelly Kellerbier Lager 4.3%, 440ml can Ardkeen Store

A bit puzzled from the start with this one! They say: “A core beer, available all year round. A lager for lovers of good beer. Kellerbier (Cellar Beer) is a German style Lager that has not been conditioned to same extent as other lagers. The resulting beer is naturally cloudy with a rounder full bodied mouthfeel.”

Despite that description and the word “unfiltered” on the can, mine pours as clear as could be, a lovely bright amber with shoals of bubbles rising to the top. It is smooth, with that full bodied mouthfeel that they mention above, easy-drinking with a lip-smacking finish and a touch of sweetness. Cloudy or not (and this one is certainly clear), it is a damn good craft lager. 

Malts are listed, on the can, as Pilsner, Wheat, Munich, Cara Clair while hops used are Huell Melon and Hersbrucker.

Eight Degrees Bohemian Pilsner Lager 4.0%, 400 can

Colour is a pale, but bright, gold, with a mere disc of a head that persists. Hops influence the floral aromas. And a promise of refreshment from the first sip. And no shortage of flavour either as this light and crisp beer spreads smoothly, in fulfilment of the initial promise, across the palate and persists until the satisfying finale. Bitterness enough to keep the balance. A good one and sessionable!

They say: Treat as an aperitif, amazing with pizza and don’t miss trying it with Thai or Vietnamese food. A crisp and adventurous drop, just perfect for a chilled out session. Bliss!

Some Details:

Style: Pilsner lager
Malt: Two row base Irish malt.
Hops: Hallertau, Hersbrucker, Lublin.
Strength: 4% ABV
Bitterness: 33 IBUs

St Mel’s Classic Range Helles Lager 5%, 500ml bottle via St Mel’s online

Cloudy amber is the colour here, gazillions of little bubbles shoot up into an attractive white fluffy head that’s in no big hurry to depart. This is bottle conditioned and dry hopped. 

Brewers Liam and Eoin have come up with a great result here, smooth, and balanced well between the malt and hops, with the bitterness nicely judged. One of the best flavoured lagers around, good mouthfeel too. Moreish is a word the brewery uses and I would certainly agree. Put this on your lager shortlist!

They say: Lagered for 4 weeks in the tanks and re-fermented in the bottle using a second strain of yeast. St. Patrick's nephew, Mel, helped spread knowledge and learning through the Irish Midlands in the 5th Century AD. St. Mel's brewing company is an independent artisan brewery, whose mission is to brew the highest quality beers from the best possible ingredients, combining innovation, passion and tradition. We hope you enjoy this bottle and, if you haven't already, convert to craft beer.

Food pairing tips: Perfect companion to big brash flavours of chilli, Indian cuisine or ribs. It also works great with Swiss cheese or a cheeky Battered Sausage and Chips.

* Top pic via Pixabay

Previously in A Quart of Ale±

A Quart of Ale± #37.  Moving on over to craft with Euro-style Lagers!

A Quart of Ale #36 a quartet of Pale Ales. Blacks. Crafty. Dungarvan. Rascals.

A Quart of Ale± #33. Moving on over to craft with St Mel’s Brewery.

A Quart of Ale± #32. Moving on over to craft with Lambic and Geuze

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #35. Moving on over to craft with a variety of IPAs, inc. 2 Big Bangers.

A Quart of Ale± #35

Moving on over to craft with a variety of IPAs, inc. 2 Big Bangers. 


Salt “A Different World” No Coast IPA 5.4%, 440ml can via Bradley’s

From a brewery that is roughly equidistant between the west coast and the east coast of England, comes this No Coast IPA. But the No Coast on the can refers to the US and the beer purports to bring the best of both American styles together.

Colour is a light amber and you’ll see - you’ll have to peer through the cloudiness - loads of bubbles streaking up towards a rapidly vanishing head. Aromas are citrusy. The first sip is quite promising and the promise is maintained as the citrus is balanced by a finely honed bitterness.

Enjoyed this superb beer, like the feel of it, its flavours, and the results of the balance between hops and malt. Probably impossible to reconcile the two main US styles but this is indeed a worthy attempt. And, in any case, the result is an excellent beer in its own right. Is there any Irish brewer doing something similar. By the way, is there a Mid-West style?

They say: SALT is a micro-brewery on a mission to unify heritage and modern brewing. Our homeland, the UNESCO village of Saltaire, was built by a super-progressive pioneer of workers' rights in the 1800s. We adopt the same progressive spirit through our modern brewing styles. The inspiration of our forefathers can be seen in our name, throughout our brewery, and the textiles used to name our beers.

Quite a few SALT beer names are associated with textiles, including Seersucker, Alpaca, and Ikat.


Hops (Kettle and Dry-Hop): Mosaic, Citra, Amarillo, and Centennial.

Malts: Pale, Oats.

12 Acres The Far Side Hazy IPA 5.1%, 440ml can via Ardkeen Store 

Colour is a mid-orange, hazy as you’d expect from the name. Soft white head keeps up appearances for quite a while as micro-bubbles gush upwards. This “New England” style contains some oats and there’s a creamy mouthfeel. It is heavily hopped though with Simcoe, Mosaic, Citra and Amarillo, yet the results seem toned down so the fresh hops, from the late additions, are not very obvious. Banana seems to be the main tropical fruit. Not bad but not my favourite IPA from the brewery. I’d prefer the Make Hay.

They say: The by-products of the brewing process are the spent malting barley grains, spent hops and excess yeast. All of these by-products will be used as animal feed on our farm, resulting in zero solid waste from the brewing process and a full life-cycle of our ingredients. This ensures a sustainable environmentally-friendly process from ground to glass.

McGargles Francis’ Big Bangin’ IPA 7.1%, 500ml bottle via O’Donovan’s 

Francis comes to your glass in a bright mid-gold colour, streams of bubbles rising towards a head that has little staying power. This “modern take” on the US West Coast IPA style has been “hopped to hell” in genteel Kildare with US hops Mosaic and Simcoe and so “tropical fruits” are more or less guaranteed and they appear first in the aromas.

The tropical character continues on the palate where the Marris Otter malt also shows up well. And a fruity yet dry finish follows. Quite a good finish, quite a good beer but do note that high alcohol count. It’s not called Big Bangin’ for nothing.

What’s in a name? This is my first McGargle. I ignored these beers for years, thinking it was a Trojan horse from one of the majors, a mockeyah (a good old Cork word for pretender) craft beer. However, it is produced, along with other lines (such as the Crafty series that you’ll find in Lidl), by Rye River Brewing which is listed in the Beoir directory. Must say though that while this IPA appeals to me, the McGargle name does not (nor for that matter does Crafty - haven’t bought one yet). First impressions and all that.

They say:  Tropical assault, restrained malt, gentle balance, fruit finish, unfiltered, unpasteurised, natural refermentation may occur, best served chilled.

Dot Brew “Throw Away Play” DIPA 8.2%, 440 can via Bradley’s

Pull the tab on this one and you get a message: Hops be here. The aromas are full of them. Colour is a murky amber, not much to seen in there. Pretty dense too on the palate with the hops,  Citra and Vic Secret, keeping their secrets close in a concentration of complexity.

Thought I might get a hint or two on their website but nada there other than a request for €300.00 of your euro “to join the fun”. They are based in Dublin but, being guerrilla brewers (apparently), can turn up anywhere. This is a quote from them, on “We are adopting maturation and blending techniques from the Whiskey and Wine industries and applying them to break the boundaries of beer production.”

The label gives some info:  “Full and fruity - Vermont Ale Yeast, Malted and flaked oats and double dry hopped with a healthy amount of Citra and Vic Secret.” I did see somewhere that they do a session beer, might try that next if I can find it.

They use a lot of barrels and do lots of collaborations. Redmond’s of Ranelagh, Bradley’s of Cork, Wicklow Wolf, and Brú Brewery, were among recent partners. And it seems as if most of these collaborations are high in ABV. As is this “Throw Away Play”. 


A Quart of Ale± #33. Moving on over to craft with St Mel’s Brewery.

A Quart of Ale± #32. Moving on over to craft with Lambic and Geuze

Monday, January 11, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #29 Moving on over to craft. Lager Variations

A Quart of Ale± #29

Moving on over to craft.

Lager Variations

Kinnegar's Rachel knows her Rye! - Brewery pic.

Cotton Ball “Mayfield 5” Pilsner Lager 5.0%, 500ml bottle via Cotton Ball off licence

Mid amber colours, fountains of little bubbles, white head hangs around for a good spell. A modest touch of hops in the aromas. The refreshment factor immediately appears on the smooth palate, spot on balance between hops and malts. A thirst cutting clean bitterness rounds off an excellent lager experience.

They say: This beer sure does have character! The classic brew to compliment party food.This inviting pilsner goes down smoothly with gourmet burgers, pizzas or wings. A perfect hit at BBQs and a great choice for alfresco dining. Now available in cans.

My local brewery

In their Brewery Room, the family pay tribute to the bar founder, one Humphrey Lynch, who left Ballyvourney at 15 years of age and settled in an American town known as Byefield which he later used in naming his Cork estate house. 

After working for two years with Joseph Longfellow, cousin to the famous poet, he worked for a year in the shipyard at Newburyport until the American civil war broke out. 

He was one of the first to enlist in the 4th U.S regiment light artillery battery and served through 27 general engagements principally in the army of the southwest and along the Mississippi valley. Then he worked for 14 years as a foreman of the picker room in Newburyport cotton mill. 

This would later give him the name for the public house (where you’ll now find the small brewery) he purchased in now Mayfield after returning to Ireland in the 1870’s. Nowadays, each bottle bears an image of American Civil War veteran Humphrey paying tribute to the man who showed the way. 

12 Acres Pallet Jack India Pale Lager 5.0%, 440 can via Ardkeen QFS

While the hops shine in the aromatics, it looks very much like a lager, golden, bright and bubbles galore.  Soft head has a fair bit of staying power. Hard to beat their own summation on the label: a hoppy Pilsner style lager, light, crisp and fruity, with an excellent mouthfeel. It is indeed and quite refreshing too.

They say, on the website: “Pallet Jack” is a 5% India Pale Lager. A clean crisp fruity Pilsner style Lager beer with the hoppy bitterness and flavour of an IPA. Not too sure I’d agree with that bit: flavour of an IPA. Strong hints of it for sure but this is still more lager than IPA and a pretty decent lager, a very decent drink, at that. 

They say: 12 Acres Brewing company is the first craft brewery in Ireland that can provide traceability for its malting barley. This is possible due to our long-standing relationship with their local malting company. We are also brewing with our own spring water, which originates from a source deep beneath the same land.

Stone Barrel “Get Some” India Pale Lager 4.6%, 440 can via Bradley’s

Another hybrid with elements of ale and lager in your mid amber coloured glass. It is an American hopped lager, double dry hopped with Loral, which has been noted as good for sessional and lager-type beers.

The base is lager, clean and crisp. Aromas and flavours have a punch of pepper, citrus notes too along with some floral wafts as well, all followed by a dry finish. Quite a decent beer, approachable and balanced, though I think my local brewery’s Indian Summer is perhaps the best of this hybrid type. You could say I’m biased!

Niall Fitzgerald and Kevin McKinney are the founders, brewers and driving force behind Stone Barrel Brewing. “We both have a huge passion and appetite for all things in craft beer, from making to drinking and everything in between.We launched Stone Barrel in November 2013 with one simple aim, to brew the kind of craft beers we love drinking. The good thing is that we love them all! Like most homebrewers, we dreamed of one day opening a brewery. So, after a lot of planning, stress, blood, sweat, tears and hugs, we’re here. We’re living the dream and dreaming of beer!”

Kinnegar “Brewers at Play “10” Rye Lager 4.4%, 440 can via Bradley’s

Rye. Brewery pic.

Colour of this excellent lager from Letterkenny is a light gold and if you look closely you’ll see lots of little bubbles (not bunnies) rising through the cloudiness. In the mouth, it is immediately refreshing, crisp and clean as most classic lagers with a little spicy zest coming through from the rye along with a distinctive flavour. Good sharp-edged finish on this well-balanced one. It is a once-off by the way!

They say: The Brewers at Play series presents new beers designed to keep our brewers on their toes and our customers on tenterhooks. Kinnegar’s love affair with rye began with our iconic Rustbucket. With No.10 in the Brewers at Play series we find out what happens when we continue the adventure with a rye lager.

I often mention the head when talking about beers here. It is not of course a really crucial part but it does make the beer look better especially if it stays for a while. Sticking your finger into the head and sucking can sometimes give you a clue as to what you can expect when you start drinking (it may also get you some curious stares), as I was once shown by the Belgian beer sommelier Marc Stroobant.