Showing posts with label Blacks Kinsale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blacks Kinsale. Show all posts

Thursday, February 23, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #13. Craft, with Red/black IPA, via Blacks Kinsale, 9 White Deer, Sierra Nevada.

CorkBillyBeers #13

Craft, with Red/Black IPA, via Blacks Kinsale, 9 White Deer, Sierra Nevada.


The Darker Side Of IPA

Blacks Red Eye Redemption IPA, 5.5% ABV, 440ml can Bradleys

“We’ve peppered a rich amber base with rye and saddled it with hefty amounts of Chinook and Topaz hops to round it up.” That’s the short intro by Blacks of Kinsale to their Red Eye Redemption IPA.

Colour is red, as you might have guessed. And there’s an off white head that hangs about for a bit, not too long, mind you. Aromas are quite strong, fruity and resinous, a promise of what’s to come. And thanks to those generous amounts of hops, what ensues is a muscular hop experience, yet the malted barley and the rye combine well to keep it all in balance even if the finish is tilted towards the hop lovers.

Blacks urge you to Gallop off into the sunset with this double dry hopped Red Rye IPA combining fantastic Chinook and Topaz hops with Amber malts and Rye for a berry pine balance with the caramel base. 

And I’d endorse that and make this a Very Highly Recommended beer. Good to see that the recent Stratasbeer – “hopped to the high heavens” with fresh Galaxy and Strata hops - has been suitably followed up. I know most of you don’t need a shot of redemption but why let the sinners have all the fun!

Very Highly Recommended.


9 White Deer Black Lightning IPA, 6.5%, 500 ml bottle

On a visit to Ballyvourney.

This stronger IPA pours dark, like a stout, and even the tanned head looks stout-like. I got a big head here but I did rev it up during the pour! After all, that is quite the motor bike on the label!

There’s a roasty toasty edge to the aromatics. And that edge continues onwards to wake up any sleepy taste buds. Now the fully engaged palate can appreciate the posse of hops here. They say: “This Black IPA is triple hopped with huge hop volumes of all the American hops expected of the style.” 

So hops galore as the malt plays a background role. The IBU is a high 52. But for all that, there is quite a balance and the brewery gives credit for that to the fact that they adjusted the (soft) water profile “to make the hops seem more rounded rather than sharp and harsh which can easily happen when using so much hops”.

“Black Lightning is hopped from the mash to the fermentor. We use Willamette, Chinook, Cascade, Summit and Centennial hops in very large volumes, about 100% more than a regular beer, but we don’t make it too bitter. It is an intensely hoppy and powerful beer. Like the legendary motorbike Vincent Black Lightning 1952 (the one on the label), this beer needs to be handled with care.”

The brewery 9 White Deer is nestled in the heart of West Cork making the highest quality Irish beers. “We have a range of uniquely crafted beers; our renowned pale ale, a beautiful Irish red ale, an award winning black IPA, the best stout you’ve ever tasted, our balanced IPA and seasonals… Everything we do is 100% gluten free.”

A cracking beer, well balanced. Our recent feature on the Ballyvourney brewery may be read here

Very Highly Recommended.


Sierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop IPA, 6.8% ABV, 355ml can Bradleys

Once we pick fresh hops, the clock starts ticking. Each year, we visit the Pacific Northwest to hand-select the best Cascade and Centennial hops, race the harvest home, and brew immediately to capture citrus, pine, and floral notes at their absolute peak — aromas and flavors for the perfect winter beer. It’s a magical time at the brewery — has been for 40 years now! — when our brewers huddle around the fermentation tanks, toasting the start of a special season with a holiday beer in hand. Wrapped in red, consider Celebration IPA a true Christmas IPA, your first present of the holidays.”

So, in the early days of February, am I too late to the magic hop party? I wonder, as I pull the tab on this Sierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop IPA.  It is a red colour - this much I am expecting - with a slightly off white head. All in all, a little lighter in colour than the 9 White Deer IPA. Aromas are that little bit spicy, hints of resin and yes it does, the hops that is, indeed still seem fresh.

And so it continues on the palate. Bit by bit though the bitterness of the hops take over and any semblance of balance fades away, even a few months after the harvest and the maturation,  it is still a big win for the out and out hops lover. Like all fads, it will please the faddists. 

According to author, Mark Dredge (Beer: A Tasting Course),  “there are few better red-coloured IPAs in the world. ….. The hops are tangy, grapefruit, herbal, and floral and overall reminiscent of Campari’s bittersweet balance.” Not too sure about the Campari comparison as that is perhaps my favourite aperitif!

In the Beer Bible, author Jeff Alworth says these beers “taste their best just days after they’re kegged, while that living essence is still at its freshest. By Thanksgiving they’re gone. Fresh hops beers are the ultimate harvest beers, to be savoured in the moment of ripeness, not hoarded and saved.”  

Must be a very special beer indeed if you can get it at its freshest! If I get to the West Coast in August or September, I’d be easily tempted to give this “delight to the hopheads of the world” a go, especially since I began to get more into this one during the last few sips!

Geek Bits

Malts: Caramelised malts, Two-row Pale

Hops: Cascade, Centennial, Chinook

Yeast: Ale Yeast

IBU: 65


Monday, October 24, 2022

A Quart of Ale± #129. On the craft journey with Sullivan's, O'Brien Wines, Lineman, Blacks, Bradleys, Brewmaster, Aldi.

A Quart of Ale± #129

On the craft journey with Sullivan's, O'Brien Wines, Lineman, Blacks, Bradleys, Brewmaster, Aldi.


Sullivan’s Maltings Irish Ale, 5%, 500ml bottle O’Brien Wines

Deauville, a long-time magnet for Europe’s rich and famous, was all abuzz for the horse racing 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.

But the Sullivan story has been revived over the past few years or so with the emergence of a new Sullivan brewery, backed by the two intertwined families, the Sullivans and, yes, the Smithwicks, both keen to keep Kilkenny’s brewing tradition going. 

Colour of this award-winning red ale is quite a dark one, boasting an off-white head that has some staying power. The aroma hints of a balance between malt fruit and hop bitterness and that continues on the body before the excellent ale finishes dry. Quite a satisfactory bottle indeed and the drinker can see why this easy-drinking smooth ale is an award winner.

They say: Traditionally brewed with only Kilkenny-grown ale malt, including three special darker malts and three varieties of hop. Fermented and matured with cask ale yeast and coupled with our no-rush brewing produces a smooth balanced classic ale. .. the result is a classic ruby ale with deep malt combining rich biscuit and gentle caramel notes.

The beer we craft today is inspired by traditional Kilkenny recipes and brewed the way the family has always brewed – the way real Irish beer should be brewed – by local experts, by hand, in small batches, with enormous heart and the finest locally sourced ingredients.


Lineman Group Therapy Session IPA, 4.6%, 440 ml can Bradleys

All southern hemisphere hopped session IPA with Galaxy, Motueka and Topaz. That’s the word from Lineman about this session IPA. Motueka comes from a small town on the South Island of New Zealand while the other two come from Australia.

Colour of the ale is a murky lemon with a head that doesn’t stay around too long.  The aromatics are on the meek side, just a hint of tropical notes peeping through. Quite a nice balance on the palate, light and zesty, tropical, citrus, a touch of pine all in the mix. Lineman regularly get it spot-on and this is another fine example from the brewery.

Lineman? “We’re often asked about our name; we’re called LINEMAN as a tribute to my late father who worked as a lineman for both the ESB and P&T in the 1940s and ‘50s. He stayed with the P&T (that eventually became Telecom Éireann and later Eircom) until he retired in 1996. There’s a nice lineage there as that same year Mark got his first job with Eircom until he left to start work on setting up LINEMAN in 2018.

The reason for the name LINEMAN runs a little deeper than that alone though. It’s also a tribute to the hard working heroes who worked in all kinds of conditions to bring about connection in the young Irish state, through electricity and telecommunications, taking Ireland out of the dark and into the modern state we know today." More here. 


Blacks Pineapple & El Dorada IPA, 5.0% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

The perfect fruity mix-up combining fantastic El Dorado hops with fresh Pineapple flavours for the ultimate summer IPA.

That’s the intro to this IPA from Blacks of Kinsale. It has a colour close to a mid-amber with a thin white head that doesn’t hang about. 

It is described as a summer IPA so I’m a little late coming to the party. Also a little apprehensive as I’m not a great lover of overly fruity beers. But I’m relaxing as the first sip flows across, enjoying the pineapple and the hoppy balance provided by El Dorado. Dry finish as well, quite bitter.

May be slightly out of season but it is a thumbs up for this one, a west coast IPA where the hops and the pineapple (one of the listed ingredients) get it together in a deep layered pineapple flavour that reminds me somewhat of the the brilliant Polly that I tasted in Limerick’s Crew last year. Summer may be gone but you can always turn up the heating (but not for lon€).


Brewmaster Sailor Sam’s Hazy IPA, 5.5%, 440ml can Aldi

Brewmaster (Dundalk Bay Brewery Co) are the producers of this IPA, exclusively for Aldi, and they recently rushed to announce that it won a bronze award in the Irish Food and Drinks Quality Awards for 2022.

Sam’s IPA is certainly hazy, under a slow-sinking soft white head over a Mango Lassi coloured body. Mango takes charge on the palate but methinks it needs a bit more to move into gold medal contention.

Good yarn on the label though, where they disclose that dry-hopping was used. Sam brewed at sea, experimenting as he sailed. It was a serious hobby! And he loved to add as many hops as possible to make the beer sea.

Brewmaster is the exclusive beer brand of Dundalk Bay Brewery and Distillery (their spirits are sold under the Ravenrock brand). “All our Irish Premium Craft Beers are brewed in a sustainable way using naturally sourced ingredients. Each alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer has its distinct flavour ensuring there’s one to satisfy every palette!”

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Beer of the Year 2021. The Reveal!

Beer of the Year 2021

Very difficult to separate the contenders but the nod for my Beer of the Year goes to the Brehon Brewhouse Oak & Mirrors Cask Aged Imperial Porter. Brehon: "Whiskey-aged porter from a collaboration with our good friends at TWO STACKS using their freshly emptied single malt cask to mature our brew. Of course, getting it right took a few tastings with the lads. This is a superior whiskey cask-aged imperial porter that will please the most discerning of whiskey-loving palettes. Limited edition.."

1 - Cask-Aged Brehon Brewhouse Oak & Mirrors Two Stacks Whiskey Cask Aged Imperial Porter

 2 (joint) - Yellow Belly “Red Noir” Dark Red Ale

                  Whiplash “Melodie Noir” Baltic Porter

4 -       Mescan Brewery Old Brown 

5  (joint) -   Western Herd Flora and Fauna 10 Hop DIPA 

                 - Hope “Limited Edition No 25“ Classic Gose

                 -  Dungarvan “Mahon Falls” Rye Pale

8 - Galway Bay NZ Pils Motueka Dry Hopped Pilsner

Mescan's Old Brown


Below are more of my favourites from the past 12 months. I'm lucky to have a great supplier here in Cork City and virtually every brewer in the country will know of Bradley's in North Main Street. There's a wall of beer there but I'm conscious that quite a few others don't make it this far south and so I've used various online shops to broaden my scope. If you feel, your beer is missing out, do please let me have a DM with info as to where I can buy it.

Category favourites 2021

Pale Ale:  White Hag “Magic Mist” Juicy Pale Ale (from a very competitive section)

IPA (also very competitive!): Blacks St Tropez IPA Summer IPA 4.8%

Session: Eight Degrees Seisíun IPA 4.5%. No shortage of competition here.

Lager: Galway Bay NZ Pils Motueka Dry Hopped Pilsner 4.9%, from a crowded field

Less competitive categories, even sub-categories

Coffee and Oatmeal Stout: Dungarvan Brewing.

Cask-Aged: Brehon Brewhouse Oak & Mirrors Two Stacks Whiskey Cask Aged Imperial Porter 7.5%; 

Porter: Whiplash The Sup

Rauchbier: Kinnegar 20÷2 Anniversary Rauchbier 5%

Barleywine: Eight Degrees Irish Oak-aged Barleywine 12.2%

Old Brown: Mescan

Spon: Land & Labour Crimson Kriek Framboise

Baltic Porter: Whiplash Melodie Noir Baltic Porter

Wheatbeer/Witbier/Wheat: Curious Society Wheat Beer

DIPA: Western Herd Flora and Fauna 10 Hop DIPA, 9.45%

Black IPA: 9 White Deer Black Lightning; 

Rye Pale Ale: Dungarvan “Mahon Falls” Rye Pale Ale

Bitter: Lough Gill Five Candles Extra Special Bitter

Stout: Ballykilcavan Blackwell Stout.

Kolsch: Rye River Grafters Clocking Off Kölsch Style

Red Ale: Yellow Belly “Red Noir” Dark Red Ale 4.5%

Gose: Hope “Limited Edition No 25“ Classic Gose

Non Alcoholic: Stonewell 0% Cider

Amber Ale: Kinnegar Devil’s Backbone 

Sour: Wide Street “Peach Berliner”Sour or Wheat? 

Brown Ale: Whiplash “The Ocean Wide” 

NEIPA: Heaney New England.


Favourite beer in brew pubs:

Crew “Polly” IPA.

Also enjoyed:

Cotton Ball "Lynch’s" Stout (Cork City); Elbow Lane's "Angel" Stout (Cork City); and Tom Crean's "Six Magpies" Stout in Kenmare.


Favourite Cider 2021: 

Stonewell Cask

Also enjoyed:

Johnny Fall Down Rare Apple Cider 2019. Longueville “Mór” Cider 8%.

Others to note:

Mac Ivors Traditional Dry Cider; Viking Orchard Cuvée; Con’s Irish Cider; Viking Hop It Craft Cider; Highbank “Proper Irish Cider” 2016. 

Irish Perry

Cockagee Cider Piorraí Irish Sparkling Perry


Sunday, February 16, 2020

Pigalle Bar & Kitchen flying the flag as Cork’s south bank shows signs of catching up with the north.

Pigalle Bar & Kitchen flying the flag as Cork’s south bank shows signs of catching up with the north.

When I enter the restaurant, there’s a long bar on my left, with its polished counter reflecting a row of craft beer taps, shelving behind all a-dazzle with shiny glasses and bottles. The right hand side is lined with booths, a comfortable banquette to the wall, comfortable chairs opposite. The rear wall has a trio of mirrors and behind me, to the front, two windows look out onto the street. Above the counter, French and Spanish posters evoke a continental feeling.  

I’m in Pigalle Café and Bar on Barrack Street. And while there is a continental feel here, it is all based on local produce. Chef Mark Ahern, ex House Café, and less than a year here in Pigalle: “Our menus concentrate on locally supplied natural and seasonal produce wherever possible. An exciting result of this is a menu that is constantly evolving and changing. We are an island with beautiful rich land and outstanding produce that is surrounded by the Atlantic ocean, this must translate on to every dish." 

And here it does. Deliciously. It is marvellous. Just one meal here and it goes straight into my shortlist. Put it on yours. The welcome is warm and soon we are studying the current menu. There are regular changes. We take our time, get all the info we need from our server (we didn't have to ask), and when we are good and ready, our order is taken!

Then we turn to the drink options. No shortage. A pageful of tempting wines, lots of gins, no lack of cocktails. And those beers. Not just craft beers; being so close to South Main Street, the ever popular Beamish is a stalwart here. But we do order craft, a glass of the KPA (€3.00) by Blacks of Kinsale who have three taps here. The taps rotate though. Four of the seven red wines are available by the glass and I pick one for my duck: a 2016 Monastrell from Bodegas Sierra Norte (Spain), a dangerously drinkable velvety juicy flavoursome glass for €9.50.
Turbot charged start

And the meal? Excellent, no culinary uniformity here as the flavours of the sea and the land are impeccably presented in a variety of stunning dishes.

Ox Tongue
There are five starters on offer, including Buffalo Cauliflower Wings with Macroom Buffalo Blue, and Ballyhoura Mushrooms, sticky rice cakes with smoked curry Peanut Rayu. There’s also a Irish Charcuterie Plate, coppa, chorizo, salami, toasts, pickles and chutney. 

And there’s a new dish here: Ox Tongue, Chorizo broth, brioche crumb and watercress. It’s a big hit with CL. The tongue comes shredded (as you might get featherblade) and enclosed in two balls; it is delicious, the broth a stunning enriching companion in the bowl (8.00).

My pick is the Tempura Turbot, Shichimi Pepper and squid ink aioli. The fish, under the thin veil of tempura, is perfectly cooked, white as a new golfball, delicate and delicious and the well judged spice in the aioli enriches the turbot without in any way threatening to takeover the flavours of the sea.
Duck & Greens

There’s a half-dozen mains to choose from. This time CL picks the market fish of the day which is Lemon Sole served with Prawns, Mustard Crust, sprouting broccoli, potato terrine. The delicate fish dish is once again superbly executed. Oh, by the way, we also ordered a side of beef dripping fries. An eye-catching mouth-watering stack was delivered. And heartily demolished, chip by chip.

Our other pick was the Carrigcleena Duck, Cabbage Farci, Wild Rice, black garlic and Plum  sauce (24.00, just like the Lemon Sole). Another accomplished dish from the team in the kitchen. Just superb. Love the robust greens here, from the Coal Quay Market, and there was a bonus when some sprouting broccoli was added to the list. Yum!

Couldn’t raise a gallop when it came to dessert, even though the short list was very tempting! Still, I think I may be crossing the bridge(s) more often, now the south bank is showing signs of catching up with the north.
111 Barrack Street
Phone: 0214323214

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Always a Warm Welcome at The Trident Hotel Kinsale

Always a Warm Welcome at The Trident Hotel Kinsale

Always enjoy going back to the Trident Hotel in Kinsale. The views from the bedrooms, any of their 75 rooms, are striking. The hotel is spectacularly set on the water's edge in Kinsale, in a prime location for guests to enjoy the views of the harbour. And quite often the sun is shining! As it was last week when we called. The Trident has a private marina and onsite parking (very handy in the busy seaside town).

The hotel, under manager Hal McElroy, has been through an extensive upgrade and its interiors are now looking splendid as well. We stayed in one of those refurbished bedrooms and we had splendid views of the harbour. The decor is restful and the spacious room had all we needed, including hairdryer (well, I didn't need that!) and tea-maker.
Room with a view

The welcome here is always warm but it got that little bit better last Monday (18th) when we were told we were upgraded. We enjoyed that. While walking along the corridors, I was struck by the restful colour combination, mainly white and grey on the walls, blue and grey in the carpet, and a little extra colour in the curtains. All very peaceful throughout. A really lovely place to stay, good rooms, good food, and just about four minutes from the very heart of the town.
Sandycover, near Kinsale

Kinsale itself has quite a lot to offer. It has often been called the Gourmet Capital of Ireland. You’ll get some arguments from other areas no doubt but Kinsale was awarded The Restaurants Association of Ireland’s ‘Top Foodie Town’ in the 2018 competition. 

The Trident and its manager are key players in Kinsale, long-time members of the town’s Good Food Circle which believe it or not are now taking bookings for the annual Gourmet Festival. Dates this year, for the 43rd running of this famous and fun event, are 11th to 13th of October. 
Safe harbour
For more info, check "Kinsale Good Food Circle - 43rd Kinsale Gourmet Festival”. Before that though, the Good Food Circle will host the National Chowder Championships in April with a street food festival on the same weekend (6/7 April 2019). 

If you visit the town, you’ll be assured of good places to stay and terrific restaurants and café, and you’ll be well set up for some fabulous sightseeing. Charlesfort overlooks the harbour and is perhaps the biggest attraction in the town. It is open all year and regular guided tours are available. Well worth a visit and you can also see it from the water if you take one of the popular Kinsale harbour cruises.

Desmond Castle, an even older building in the heart of the town, is open during the season. It is also known locally as the French Prison. Built originally as a customs house, it now includes a wine museum as one of its attractions.
Lusitania Museum and the Old Head

The nearby coast includes many small coves that are worth a visit (see here) and not too far away there is the large beach at Garrettstown, the waters here also popular with surfers. On the way, you may stop and admire the famous Old Head of Kinsale and visit the nearby Signal Tower and Lusitania Museum.

Kinsale, often called the gateway to West Cork (see my West Cork Package), is your starting point on the Wild Atlantic Way. It is hardly 30 minutes from Cork City, even less from the airport and not too far away from the ferryport of Ringaskiddy.
In the harbour

Our latest visit was prompted by Kinsale Restaurant Week, a very successful event that finished up on the 24th of February. We had a great meal, a great night indeed, in Finns’ Table, another member of the Good Food Circle. 
Blacks Ale

Breakfast view at the Trident
Finished the night with a pint of local beer (from Blacks Micro-Brewery and Distillery) in the Trident’s Wharf Bar. And said goodbye to the Trident after a hearty breakfast in Pier One, their main restaurant, used mainly for breakfast and functions. 

The lively Wharf Bar downstairs will keep you well fed during the day and evening. And in the good weather, at the water’s edge, the Trident have their self contained Foredeck Bar with some seating for your comfort.

Oh, the hospitality continued at the breakfast table when we were surprised with the gift of a bottle of wine from Anthony of the Trident and congrats from all the servers. He knew we had been been celebrating our 50th anniversary at Finns’ Table. Thanks to Anthony and the Trident. And, before you ask, we didn’t open the lovely Sancerre at breakfast!

Also on this Kinsale trip:
Dinner at Finns' Table
Surprise Mellot Sancerre Tasting at Finns' Table