Showing posts with label Belgium. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Belgium. Show all posts

Friday, October 27, 2017

A Sour Theme! This Weekend's Franciscan Well October Festival

A Sour Theme!
This Weekend's Franciscan Well October Festival
Rodenbach cocktail

Sour is a big topic in Irish craft beer at present and indeed is the core theme at this weekend’s 17th annual Franciscan Well October Beerfest.

Beer expert Barry Fitzgerald has been involved in 16 of the 17 and was our host at an opening tasting event in their upstairs bar on Thursday evening, following a warm welcome from Marketing Manager Kate Clancy.  

Barry reckons that over a 1,000 new beers have been tasted in this festival on the North Mall, “always a new experience”. “It is the longest continuously running beer festival in the country…. it has evolved into a tasting menu, all about flavour, and this weekend’s menu reflects that.”

There are some twenty-six imported beers, all special but some very special indeed, on the menu card this time, available by the pint, the half-pint and the third-pint. Barry picked three sours, by well established breweries, for the tasting session, three that you could profitably note if calling in over the weekend (the festival continues today, Saturday and Sunday, from 1.00pm each day).

The first was from Belgium, a sour brown (8% abv) Goudenband (gold band) by Liefman in Oudenaarde; quite an experience. This is a mixed fermentation beer with re-fermentation in the bottle. “It is made by the year, is different each year, you can lay it down and it will last forever. This is the 2016, its first time in Ireland and may never be here again. We have just a small amount for the festival.”

“You notice cherry, but there is no fruit used in it, the flavour comes form the basic ingredients, the ageing and the wild yeast. It is winey, leather notes, very complex. If you like sour, this is a very good one!” 

Quite an amazing beer really, a real treat with a super balance, quite a sophisticated drink and a long long way from local sours that I've tasted recently. Much more detail on this beer here.

Next up was a UK/Norway collaboration between the Buxton and Lervig breweries, a gooseberry sour IPA at 7.00%, “brewed to celebrate friendship and a love of wild places”. The name of the beer is Trolltunga and you’ll get some detail on it here

There is fruit in this one as it’s packed with sour gooseberries, “cookers” as Barry said. And there was instant agreement as lips puckered up alarmingly around the tasting tables! This was really sour. “It is at the cutting edge of the new sours…wild yeast…open fermentation.” If you are getting in to sours, this is hardly the one to start with. As for me, I was in the minority that liked it. Then again, I sometimes get incredulous looks when I drink Campari neat. “How do you do that?”
Much different to the other two, which I also liked.

Back to Belgium then to complete the hat trick, Barry saving the best until last: The Rodenbach Gran Cru Sour red/brown at 6%, a blend of 1/3rd young beer and 2/3 of beer aged two years in large oak vats, giving fruity taste, complexity and intensity. Barry told us this Flemish Sour Ale has its own AOC. “It takes over two years to make (even the angel’s share happens here) and young beer is added to restart fermentation.”

“It is more like a traditional beer, the flavours primarily from the oak cask and the wild yeast.” It was certainly more approachable than the previous one and went down really well in the group. Lots more info on it here.  By the way, the festival list also features another outstanding beer from this brewery, the Caractere.

Upstairs at the Franciscan Well is where’ll you’ll find Ireland’s first and only brewhouse cocktail bar. Dean was ready to shake but he was determined to respect the Rodenbach which would be the base for our cocktail. For instance, even the detail of garnish was given due consideration by Dean who put aside the normal basil in favour of sage, considering the basil too aromatic for the beer.

So, to 60ml of Rodenbach, the mixologist added Tobacco and Honey rum, lime juice, Bermuda rum, Cotes du Rhone red, and ice of course. It was a superb finale to an eye-opening session in the bar which is soon to be re-named and Dean and company are determined that the cocktails will reflect what goes on in the brewhouse, getting as many as possible of their ingredients from the beer-making process. Sounds like a good plan. Here’s to checking it out, with Barry of course, during festival #18 next year!

Thursday, November 10, 2011




Duck liver parfait with brioche, wild mushroom and brown bread dumpling, Goast’s cheese crostini with sundried tomato pesto, mini white bean and bacon soup
With Paulaner or Zywiec

OVEN ROAST HAKE with lemon and basil mash, sautéed samphire, with cornstore red pepper relish (g)
With Heineken or Tiger
CHICKEN BREAST stuffed with chorizo on crushed baby potatoes, red onion and tomato salad and tarragon infused natural yoghurt
With Zywiec or Coors Light          

SLOW ROAST PORK BELLY with roast potatoes, sauerkraut, candied walnuts and a cider reduction (g)
With Tiger, Affligem or Zywiec

BRAISED LAMB SHANK with roast orange sweet potato, celeriac and green beans (g)
With Affligem or Zywiec

CANNELLONI OF BUTTER NUT SQUASH goats cheese, spinach and figs with sun dried tomato pesto,
rocket salad (v)
With Birra Moretti

WHITE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE west cork strawberries and short bread biscuit
With Paulaner or Affligem

Belgian Master Beer Sommelier Marc Stroobandt (right) breezed into the Cornstore earlier this week for the Heineken Beer Food Matching Menu. Informative, entertaining, Marc was the star of the evening, a very enjoyable one indeed.

Not only has Marc has been described as bringing 'rock and roll' to beer, but he has also been awarded some of the highest accolades in the global brewing industry!  He has been given an honorary knighthood by the Chevalerie du Fourquet des Brasseurs of the Confederation of Belgian Brewers and the title of Commander in the Order of De Roze Olifant (The Pink Elephant). You may read all about him here .

Met Marc and the Cornstore’s Mike Kelly at the counter where we sampled a couple of the beers on the list. Both were lagers, both reasonably well known: Tiger from Singapore and Birra Moretti from Italy.

Brewed since 1932, Tiger Beer is now available in more than 60 countries, winning over drinkers in major cities around the world. It is the winner of over 40 awards. Birra Moretti is the result of a production process that has remained almost unchanged since 1859. A special blend of high quality hops gives it a unique taste and fragrance, enhancing its perfectly balanced bitter taste. Must say, I had a slight preference for the Italian here.

As you can see from the menu (above), the beers served with the starter were the popular Polish lager Zywiec and the German Paulaner. From my point of view, the Polish beer was a bit unlucky in this match as the Paulaner won hands down. If you were out for a session and had just these two to choose from, then maybe the Zywiec might be better for the long run.

The starter selection was excellent and my main course, the Chicken, so well set off by the potatoes and a very very tasty salad, was top class. As it happened, Marc served us with the Birra Moretti for this course and it was a perfect choice. Indeed, the Moretti seems quite an all rounder with food, especially the lighter dishes.

What could match the dessert, the tempting White chocolate and strawberries? A small glass of Paulaner did the trick.

Speaking of tricks, Marc had a few, like tasting the “head” with a plastic spoon to get to know your beer, covering the top of your glass before sticking your nose in to get the aromas (saw Liberty Wine’s David Gleave MW doing the same a day later with Olive Oil). And one for photographers! If the head in your glass has more or less vanished, lift the bottle high and gently pour in a few spoonfuls and you’ll have a perfect head in an instant!

Thanks to Heineken and Marc and to all at the Cornstore, we had a lovely evening of food and beer, leaving quite a  few of us very impressed with the idea, including one French chef who had never considered the possibility of matching anything other than wine to food.

At the end Marc, also an advocate of beer with cheese, tried to win me over to Affligem, Belgium’s abbey beer. Brewed in the Flemish village, Opwijk, this top-fermenting beer is still brewed according to the original recipe. Not bad but, sorry Marc, my top two were the Moretti and the Paulaner. Different strokes for different folks!

Oh and do watch out for another beer/food evening at the Cornstore as Mike Kelly intends to put on an evening with all Irish beers. Should be a good one!