Showing posts with label Ballykilcavan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ballykilcavan. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #46. Craft with Ballykilcavan, Brehon and Boyne Brewhouse

CorkBillyBeers #46

Craft with Stout, Red Ale, and Pils, featuring Ballykilcavan, Brehon and Boyne Brewhouse .


Ballykilcavan Blackwell Stout, 4.4% ABV, 440 ml can Pettitt’s SV Athy

The Walsh family have been farming here since 1639. This stout is brewed with barley and water from the farm.

The Blackwell is black (surprise, surprise). And there’s a soft fluffy milky-coffee coloured head of the slow sinking variety. Coffee and chocolate in the aromas plus toasty stuff as well. And it’s pretty traditional on the creamy palate also, with coffee and caramel and toasted notes plus hints of smoke and spice in the background. Good dry finish in this pretty faultless stout, redolent of ages past - remember those old-time threshings and bottles in generous supply - but well capable of holding its own in the current climate.

Good dry finish here, not as creamy as some. Very Highly Recommended.

The Griffin is the symbol of the Walsh family, who have been farming at Ballykilcavan for 13 generations. “We have lived and worked here since 1639, and diversification has always been important to keep our farm viable for future generations. When I took over Ballykilcavan from my father in 2004, my motivation was to try to sustain it so that someone else would be able to take it over from me,” says current owner-operator David. And the brewery is one way of doing that. Already, they are exporting.

The brewery is installed in the original stone grain store for the farm, which was built around 1780. In previous centuries, the building was used to store barley and oats after harvest, and then to mill them for bread making, feeding animals and maybe even making beer. Like most of the buildings in the 240-year-old farmyard, it is too small for modern farm equipment, but it is the perfect size to fit a small craft brewery.

Since David and wife Lisa set up the brewery business in 2017 - the brewery itself followed a year later - the Ballykilcavan beers have earned quite a reputation in the craft world. We had an online chat with David - a busy man - and you can read about his drive and hard work, the pride in his area and county, a drive and pride shared by Lisa and the younger members of the family. You’ll find the January 2023 article here .


Brehon Brewhouse Killanny Red, 4.5% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

This red ale from Brehon is quite a dark red indeed, with a “deep, russet ruby hue”. The head is light coffee coloured. The aromas of the malt are evident, biscuity and caramel.  It is malt, with deliciously nutty notes, that also features on the palate. Pretty well balanced too to be fair, with flavours of toasted hazelnut and a tart berry touch playing a role towards the end. Really stands up for itself in the mouth and makes you take notice. Excellent balance and overall not bad at all!

Very Highly Recommended

They consider it as “A traditional Irish ale … Described by many as “The perfect example of an Irish Red.” And also tell us it is hopped with Magnum and Willamette. Food recommendations are “…. great on its own and just perfect with BBQ red meats, lamb, stew, roast beef, black pudding or mature cheddar”.


Geek Bits

Alcohol: 4.50%
Ingredients: Water, Malted Barley, Hops, Yeast
Allergens: Malted Barley

Hops: Magnum and Willamette.

“The McMahons have lived on our farm for 10 generations (but who’s counting?) We’ve had our ups and downs throughout the years, but we always loved a good pint — except for my mother and father who never touched a drop. We keep family close and raise a glass every day to those who came before, surrounded by photographs of generations of McMahons. Sláinte!

 Seamus McMahon: Brewer, Farmer, Drinker


Boyne Brewhouse Oatmeal Stout, 6.2% ABV, 500 ml bottle Pettitt’s SV Athy

The 'Cauldron of Plenty' belonged to The Dagda, leader of the Tuatha dé Danann. It is said that this magical pot bestowed endless gifts on his army in battle. Drink to the mighty God with this smooth (roasty) and robust oatmeal stout.

The brewery is inspired by the myths and legends of the Boyne Valley and beyond. “We craft all our brews using original recipes, natural ingredients and a generous dash of Irish intrigue.”

Lots of promise here but, as the song goes, “Don’t mean a thing if it ain't got that swing”. So what has this Boyne Oatmeal Stout, with a highish IBU 61 number, got?

Certainly, it has the inky black colour with the more or less usual light off-white head (of short to medium duration). And it has those unmistakable intense roasty aromas. And that supple roast comes through strongly on the creamy-feeling palate, slightly fruity (raisin and dried fruits) and sweet towards the finale.

An excellent example of the type and Highly Recommended.

And speaking of recommendations, Boyne Brewery suggests food pairings of roasted or braised meats; seafood, especially oysters; rich stews; chocolate desserts; and blue or aged cheddar cheese.

By the way, Boyne Brewhouse is (since 2020) a subsidiary of Carlow Brewing of Carlow where the beers (and myths presumably) are now produced.


Tuesday, September 19, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #45. Craft with ales, pils & stout from Rye River, Ballykilcavan, Yellowbelly and Bavik

CorkBillyBeers #45

Craft with ales, pils & stout from Rye River, Ballykilcavan, Yellowbelly and Bavik.


Rye River Nocturne Export Stout, 6.0% ABV, 500 ml bottle Pettitt’s SV Athy

In the dark of the night.. a nocturne worthy of an encore.

Rye River's Nocturne Export Stout is a midnight-hued duet of espresso and dark chocolate, with a hint of smoke that lingers like a tremble on the nose. The flavours are equally intense, with rich intense roast caramel gently blanketing the palate and extending into a lengthy finish. This is a stout that demands to be savoured, and it's sure to leave you wanting more.

This is one nocturne worthy of an encore. Highly Recommended.

Geek Bits

Malts - Carafa Special 2, Chocolate Malt, Munich 2 Malt, Pale Malt, Special W, Smoke Malt. 

Hops - Columbus

They say:  We love beer, so when we started out it was our plan to make great tasting beer that people loved. We've grown a lot since then, taking on more brewers and beer lovers, experimenting, tasting, talking, trying, failing, trying again, and succeeding.


Ballykilcavan Millhouse Session IPA, 3.5% ABV, 440 ml can Pettitt’s SV Athy

Ballykilcavan promotes this as a light, refreshing session ale - “our favourite barbeque beer! Low in alcohol, but double dry hopped for maximum flavour.”

Colour is a light orange, very hazy indeed with a small-bubbled white head. Aroma is a forward citrus. It is double hopped so the hoppy influence has the edge on the palate, light and crisp with refreshing citrus and a piney backbone.

Ingredients are Water, Malted Barley, Wheat, Oats, Hops, and Yeast. The Barley and Water are sourced from their own farm where the family has been since 1639. The hops used, all from the USA, are Citra, Amarillo and Mosaic. The brewery says that the organic oats from the neighbouring farm, The Merry Mill, contribute to the “lovely balance”.

It is available in cans and kegs with an IBU of 48. Highly Recommended.


Yellowbelly Citra Pale Ale (APA), 4.8% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

I hadn’t come across a Yellowbelly beer in a long while until I recently picked this up in Bradley’s of Cork. They had a few cans of this popular pale ale in stock but that was it as regards Yellowbelly and it is also the only beer on the brewer’s website shop.

It has been “dry hopped to the gills with Citra” and it shows immediately both in the aromas and on the palate. The other hop used is Huell Melon and the malts are Pilsner, Munich, Wheat.

Brewed with the finest German and Belgian malts, fermented with a super clean American ale yeast, the resulting beer should be enjoyed as fresh as possible to appreciate the grapefruit and pine aroma and clean finish.

Hazy yellow is the colour here, and a white head (size and length depending on how you pour, probably best if on draught). The mix of ingredients here is really well-judged resulting in a really well-balanced beer where the Citra hop takes centre stage.

Not too surprised that this American Pale Ale from the southeast is still around. They regard it as a flagship beer. Citra Pale Ale can be enjoyed year-round on draught or in can from your favourite bars, restaurants and off-licences. It was voted Best Beer in Ireland  in the 2019 Beoir Awards


Bavik Super Pils, 5.2%, 330 ml can Bradleys

Highlighting its World Beer Awards Belgium Gold at the top of the label, Bavik continues in like vein: “..only one Pilsner remains uncompromised, brewed for quality and consistency. No adjustments. Never pasteurized. Slowly Brewed. Cold Maturation. Crystal clear. It’s Bavic Super Pils or nothing!”

Looks good though in the glass, a bright light gold  (it has been filtered until clear) with a soft white head. The aromas are hoppy, modestly so, nothing overpowering. Once it hits the palate, you feel the softness and appreciate the crisp character. Full-bodied for sure and deeply refreshing as the delicate and refreshing taste of hop bitters embellishes the beer at the finalé.


This little red can, a retro style of theirs, certainly delivers. One for your shortlist.

They say: “Bavik Super Pils obtains its unique taste and aroma from its exceptional brewing process. Our pilsner has not been diluted, we only use aroma hops, guarantee a long and cold maturation process, and pasteurization is out of the question. Those four elements result in this unique pilsner. Never compromise on taste! Moreover, we brew Bavik Super Pils in perfectly hygienic conditions, so pasteurisation is not an option. This way Bavik Super Pils keeps its unique light hoppy taste. Win win!”

Unsurprisingly, this pils continues to scoop awards. Brewers De Brabandere have stuck to its traditional recipe for five generations and, as always, time and quality prove the most important factors in producing a good beer.

Friday, September 15, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #44. Craft with an excellent quartet from Galway Hooker, Ballykilcavan, Kinnegar and Vedett

CorkBillyBeers #44

Craft with IPA and Pilsner from Galway Hooker, Ballykilcavan, Kinnegar and Vedett


Galway Hooker Sixty Knots IPA, 5.5% ABV, 500 ml bottle Centra Victoria Cross

Amber is the colour of this IPA from Galway Hooker. The earthy malts come through more in the aromatics than the hops and continue to contribute, now adding a touch of spice, on the full-flavoured palate while the hops get their turn with citrus and tropical flavopurs. The finish is certainly bitter but no more so than you'd expect from the style and, overall, Sixty Knots is well-balanced.

Highly Recommended.

A pioneer of the modern craft beer movement, famous for its innovation and quality. Galway Hooker, whose early production was actually in Roscommon, has developed a reputation as one of Ireland’s leading breweries. “Our ethos is to brew natural, full-flavoured, high quality and preservative-free beers. We like to think our beer helps to share the culture in all of us.” 

This IPA with an ABV of 5.5% and an IBU number of 60 certainly fits well in their portfolio. The brewers say it is well suited to seafood, cured meats or dessert dishes and, on Instagram, declare that “Galway Hooker IPA & Oysters are a perfect combination” and a Galway company would certainly know that! It is widely available in cans and bottles and also in kegs and draught.


Ballykilcavan Long Meadow IPA, 5.00% ABV, 440 ml can, Pettitt’s Athy

This IPA from Laois, named after a 300-year-old field on the farm, has a gold colour, with quite a wash of red onboard as well, all under a slightly off-white soft head. 

Aromas are mild, with the malt doing its own sweet thing and the hops, Azacca and Amarillo, contributing tropical and citrus plus a touch of herbal. The flavours are strong and hoppy (tropical and a touch of pine). Smooth with a terrific balance and one to savour.

Very Highly Recommended.

The water and barley also come from the farm and the IBU is 60. Local beer guru Susan Boyle reviewed this in its early days and declared: Ballykilcavan Brewery is a pioneer in Irish farm-to-glass brewing, and Long Meadow IPA is a beer to return to again and again.


Kinnegar Black Bucket Black Rye IPA 6.5% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

This is one of the impressive line-up of core beers at Kinnegar. They call this Brussels Beer Challenge gold medal winner “The bigger, darker brother to our Rustbucket Rye”.

I made my first acquaintance with this in 2018. It is indeed rather special. Looks black in the glass but a closer inspection reveals brown as well; the head is coffee-coloured. Aromas are mostly of the roasted malt (big and rich);  the spice of the rye makes quite an impression on the palate and there’s fruity flavours (tropical mostly) from the hops.

Quite a complex beer, a lot going on in this bucket, but the balance is excellent. an outstanding drop and Very Highly Recommended. The Rustbucket, by the way, is an “old reliable”, and is well into its second decade now. 


Vedett Extra Pilsner, 5.2% ABV, 330 ml bottle Bradleys

A pretty damn good blond premium lager.

Vedett doesn't pull punches: “Got a thirst that can’t be beat? We’ll see about that! Because Vedett Extra Pilsner is brewed to quench even the most stubborn of thirsts. Offering full-bodied refreshment from start to finish.”

Colour is a pretty ordinary straw with a clean white head. There’s a pleasing hoppiness and a slight malty aroma. All fairly modest, so far. And then, its big character, its complexity, its depth of flavour and refreshment emerge on the palate. A superb balance of malts and hops, the lengthy finish and a refreshment touched with a little bitterness spell satisfaction in capital letters. Ready to go again. Yes, please.

Here’s the official version: “After all, who can resist her seductive straw colour and pearly-white head? Her smooth, malty character with subtly balanced hops? Or her lingering fruitiness with subtle notes of vanilla?

Whatever your weakness, this premium Pilsner offers full-bodied, thirst-quenching refreshment from start to finish. With a slightly bitter aftertaste to keep you on your toes.”

Geek Bits

Malt: Pale Barley Malt & rice

Hops & Spices: Saaz-Saaz, Styrian Golding, Hallertau Magnum

Serve: 3 degrees

IBU 26. 


Friday, August 25, 2023

Among the big brands in Kildare Village, I find a familiar name. Crêperie Angelie make an outstanding crêpe with Coolea Cheese!

Among the big brands in Kildare Village, I find a familiar name.

Coolea & Spinach Crêpe

Crêperie Angelie make an outstanding crêpe

with Coolea Cheese!

Thanks to the crepe in my hand, I was thinking of two contrasting villages.

One is Coolea, hardly a village at all, just a scattering of buildings deep in the countryside up in the hills above Ballyvourney in County Cork. Here the Willems family has been making their famous cheese since the 1970s.

Chocolate Block at Lindt

Village mural
What a contrast then with Kildare Village where I was enjoying my crêpe. Here you have an impressive line-up of the biggest brand names in the world cheek by jowl. And there are visitors from all over Ireland and many from Europe and indeed quite a few from beyond.

My crêpe was a beauty and the highlight was Coolea Cheese. I had just ordered it from Crêperie Angelie. The cheese was paired with spinach and all very enjoyable indeed and ideal for a light lunch as a sumptuous dinner was arranged for later on at our hotel, the Clanard Court in Athy.

The Crêperie is one of quite a few food outlets in Kildare Village, so you won't go hungry at all. It is one of the smaller ones. I noticed one doing doughnuts (the Rolling Donut) and Murphy’s Ice Cream of Dingle fame is also there.  If you want something substantial then the likes of Dunne and Crescenzi and Saba will oblige.

Athy's narrow Horse Bridge (1796) at the point where the Barrow River
is joined by the Grand Canal (lock at left)

With the crêpes under our belts, we began walking the village and yet the purchases all had a food connection. The old credit card got a bashing at the tempting Lindt chocolate shop and even more so at Le Creuset.

Later, in Athy, the local Supervalu (Pettitt’s) had a well-stocked craft beer section. I was looking for local breweries and found a few beers from Ballykilcavan, Boyne Brewhouse and Rye River. Happy with that lot! 

And then we headed off to Minch Malt. The brochure claims it is the oldest (opened in 1847) and the largest producer in the country. In its early days, it was one of many malthouses along the banks of the Grand Canal. We returned over Horse Bridge (1796) and walked back to the town centre along the bank of the Barrow (one of the three sisters).

Athy is one of the biggest towns in the county and has quite a lot of history. Unfortunately, the Shackleton Museum is closed for renovations. Next time!

Strong. Ballet dancer with boxing gloves.
An eye-catching mural by Solus on Barrow Quay, Athy
Look closely at the 6 drawings above the "signature"

We also took time to visit Burtown House and Gardens, a few miles away from the hotel. There are over 12 acres of gardens, park and woodland, and 180 acres of remaining farmland from a once 2000-acre estate. There is also a sculpture trail here. 

It was Sunday afternoon and their popular Green Barn restaurant, where the menus are seasonal, was very busy indeed. And they also have accommodation. Our walk around barely scratched the surface so that’s another place, plus the Bog of Allen, that we plan to visit.

Sculpture by Catherine Greene at Burtown House
and below, garden flowers on a woodland path.

in Athy

For any visit to Kildare, the 4-star Clanard Court is excellent, has lovely staff and they’ll feed you well. It also benefits from a central location. Both the M7 and M9 are close by. Newbridge is 26 minutes away, National Stud (20), Naas (32), The Curragh (25), Punchestown (31), St Stephen’s Green (68), Tullamore Dew (58), Ballykilcavan Brewery (18) another must visit, Carlow (27), Kilbeggan Distillery (68) one track mind! From Cork, it is 128 minutes.

Also on this visit (thanks to Into Kildare for helping):

Newbridge Silverware.

Clanard Court Hotel.

Kildare Village - Athy - Burtown House

Recent Visit:

The National Stud & Japanese Gardens 

You're on course for a great time when you stay at Lawlor's of Naas 

Lawlor's Naas is a great base for Kildare's many attractions