Showing posts with label Blairs Inn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blairs Inn. Show all posts

Monday, January 9, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #5 . Craft journey with Barrel Aged beers by 9 White Deer, Brehon and Wicklow Wolf.

CorkBillyBeers #5

Craft journey with Barrel Aged beers by 9 White Deer, Brehon and Wicklow Wolf.

+++ To Øl at Abbots Ale House Fri 13th+++


9 White Deer Stag BA Export Stout, 7.4% ABV, 500 ml bottle Blairs Inn

Bought this at Blairs Inn and got advised to keep it for a year, that it would be better then. Well that was 2022, this is 2023, so here goes! 

It comes with quite a build-up.  Producers 9 White Deer proclaim: An export version of Stag Stout, aged in Blackwater Distillery whisky barrels. Provides everything you’d imagine the combination of two classics should.

Michael Creedon of Bradley’s knowns a thing two about beer and, on December 1st, he is enthusiastic to say the least: Lads, I can confirm this @BlackDistillery whisky barrel aged export stout from @9whitedeer is only savage.

I’m having a laugh here and then I take a sip and the laughing stops. Something serious is going on. Something exceptionally smooth and luxurious has crossed my lips and taste buds are on full alert. This is about as good as a collaboration between a distillery and brewery can get. Properties of both stout and whiskey in perfect combination and I’m thinking it is pushing Brehon’s Oak and Mirrors off the number one spot it has held on this blog for quite a while.

More from the makers: For that demanding Stout lover, who insists they’ve seen and tasted it all…Take your time and enjoy, as we did making it…We call it Export Stout, but really it’s much too good to send away.”

Much too good now to keep for another year!

On the other hand, I will need at least one for next Christmas. Just found the last of the Barnabrow House Christmas pudding in the kitchen, gave it a quick turn in the microwave and, just as I suspected, it and this superb stout are the perfect match!

9 White Deer is an independent brewery, set in the heart of the Irish Gaeltacht: Determined to honour the local landscape and folklore, we craft beers from native, malted barley, and the purist of water, sourced from the Cork and Kerry Mountains. We create superior brews by being respectful to our ingredients and maturing process, which results in exceptional beers that are also gluten-free. Since our founding in 2014 we have pioneered the gluten-free beer market, making the first gluten-free beer in Ireland and the first full range of gluten-free beers in Europe. 



Brehon Oak & Mirrors BA Imperial Porter , 7.5% ABV, 500 ml bottle Bradleys

Brehon are well known for their stouts and porters and this was our Beer of the Year here in 2021. The brewers tell us: ”It is a whiskey-aged porter from a collaboration with our good friends at Two Stacks Distillery 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.”

On its own, it is indeed a rather beautiful barrel aged porter, full of aromas and flavours of Roasted Malt, Dark Chocolate, Liquorice, Dried Fruits, Tobacco, and Vanilla. And there seems to have been a decent bit of Two Stacks in the cask, not too much mind you, just enough to give a smooth and warming tasty little lift! It has been hopped with Williamette and Magnum.

My primary interest this time was to see how well it matched with our Barnabrow House pudding. This is one of the lighter coloured puddings and full of fruit and booze (whiskey, stout). A good candidate for a match and so it proved, right to the end where the whiskeys got on very well together.

The Brehon Brewery, founded by farmer Seamus McMahon, welcomes visitors to the brewery and farm and they’ll feel immediately immersed in Irish culture and history. The name of this brewery is inspired by the old Brehon Laws that governed medieval Ireland, which stated that every clan was allowed to brew beer for their own family. “All of this wonderful heritage is incorporated into the Brehon Brewhouse brand.”


Wicklow Wolf Locavore Autumn 2022 Barrel Aged Irish Barley Wine, 10.5% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

According to Mark Dredge in Beer: A Tasting Course, the name Barley Wine was used from the late 1800s. The American style is normally highly hopped while the British style is richer with malt flavour. Examples are Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot and Coniston’s No 9 Barley Wine.

Colour of our 10.5% ABV Wicklow Wolf is a red/orange. There are citrus, grapefruit and pine notes in the aromas and flavours too and no real alcoholic heft despite the high count. The Locavore series (using mostly local ingredients) really hit the high spots this year and this well balanced Barley Wine fits right in.

Dessert or cheese seems to be the usual tip for food pairing. I tried it with a generous slice of our regular Christmas pudding by Barnabrow House and the dry finish of the Wicklow Wolf sits nicely with the sweetness of the pudding..

Wolf, who a busy and successful year, introduce this as a Barrel Aged Irish Barleywine “aged in ex Wicklow Whiskey Sherry barrels for 12 months and brewed using our very own barley. A complex, full bodied, uncompromising barleywine that pours a viscous, burnt orange in appearance.”

Geek Bits

IBU: 50
Hops: Chinook; Centennial; Cascade
Malt: Wicklow Wolf Pale, Wicklow Wolf Vienna


2023 My Very Highly Recommended Irish Beers

January 2023

IPA: Cotton Ball Fury

Session: Whiplash Rollover.

BA Beers: 9 White Deer Stag BA Export Stout; Brehon Oak & Mirrors BA Imperial Porter.


December 2022

IPA: Third Barrel Electric Eyes Idaho & El Dorado IPA

Witbier: Whiplash Alma Witbier 

Stout: Cotton Ball Lynch’s Stout; Dungarvan Coffee & Oatmeal Stout; Lineman (with Craic Beer Community) Pulse Irish Extra Stout; Whiplash The Wake Export Stout; 

Ales with Wild Yeast: Black Donkey Underworld Rua Amber Ale; Black Donkey Underworld Allta Farmhouse Ale; Black Donkey Underworld Savage Farmhouse /Saison Ale.


Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Pandemic or Recession, the Blair Boys never shirk a challenge

 Pandemic or Recession, the Blair Boys never shirk a challenge 

The Blairs Boys never shirk a challenge. Their family owned country inn near Cloghroe has, like many restaurants, been ambushed and battered by pandemics and rising costs, yet Duncan and Richie have come up fighting, still cooking and serving the good stuff, seasonal comforting food these bleak December days.

But leave your bleakness at the door, as they do. Lots of smiles and chats in here as regulars know. And of course they have craft beer, a full menu of it. Indeed, they were one of the pioneers (not the kind with the badge) of local beer, matching it with their local produce. On the current list, brewers such as West Kerry, Blacks of Kinsale, West Cork Brewing and 9 White Deer are highlighted.

The Stag Gluten Free Stout by 9 White Deer has been a big hit here over the years and was one of our drinks during the visit. The other was their Kölsch, a summer favourite of ours. Not summer now but the Blairs fire was warm and the beer went down a treat. Also spotted the new 9 White Deer Export Stout 7.4% (Stout Aged in Blackwater whiskey casks in West Waterford) and that came home with us. We were advised to hold on to it for a while!

We had arrived just as they opened at 1.00pm last Thursday and so did quite a few others and Christmas was very much in the air when a large group of customers came together. And there was plenty of warming food to choose from.

Starters included Soup of the Day with Potato Flatbread; Tartlet of Ardsallagh Goats Cheese, creamed leeks and a beetroot chutney; and Garlic Wild Mushrooms with potato flatbreads. Our pick, available in small and large portions, was the West Cork Whiskey Wings with a Cashel Blue dip and potato flatbreads. Superb flavours from a warming dish ideal for the zero degree weather outside in the valley.

Mains on offer included Roast Half Chicken with all the trimmings including roasties; Angus Beef Burger with cheese, gherkins and house sauce and with skin-on wedges; Roast stuffed loin of Timoleague Pork with all the trimmings with roasties of course!; a seasonal Veggie Pie, topped with Cheddar cheese mash; Thai Green Chicken Curry with steamed rice.

My pick was the Cottage Pie of ground beef topped with creamy mash and a side salad, another comforting warm blast against the cold! But I think, on the basis of a spoon or two, that CL was the winner here with a tempting looking Fisherman's Pie of fresh fish topped with smoked Hegarty’s Cheese and dill mash. It looked tempting mostly because, unusually, the chunky fish pieces were floating around an island of the tasty mash. Something different but very satisfying indeed. Just like everything else on the menu, this was comfort food at its best, perfect for the weather this time of year.

This one came home!

Finished off with a chat with the brothers and wished them luck for the months ahead. But those two know you make your own luck where the main ingredient is hard work. Their loyal local customers know that too and, combined, that’s a solid foundation for whatever pestilence or economic woe that may (or may not) lie around the corner.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Warm Welcome to Blairs Inn Banishes Bleak Midwinter Blues. Amazing Venison Casserole Highlight of a Hearty Lunch

Warm Welcome to Blairs Inn Banishes Bleak Midwinter Blues.
Amazing Venison Casserole Highlight of a Hearty Lunch
No shortage of craft beer in Blairs
There’s something about family run and owned places. And you see it first hand when you enter Blairs Inn, in the countryside close to Blarney and less than 30 minutes from Cork city centre. Brothers Richard and Duncan (the chef) Blair now head up the pub their parents ran for quite some years. Here, the hearty dishes are a personal expression and you find signs of seasonal and local authenticity in the well-filled plates and bowls. 

Provenance is given pride of place on the menus and, while the presentation may not be as eye-catching as in some slicker more expensive operations, it is also a long ways from being slapdash. The aim of the kitchen here is to make a pleasant impression in your belly, not necessarily on your phone camera

We are warmly greeted to the traditionally decorated inn (it is just before Christmas) by the boys' mother Anne, who guides us to our fireside table. Richard is finishing off the day’s menu, we are a little early, but soon those menus are at hand along with some of their top notch stout infused brown bread! Just a little more detail on the bread to underline the Inn's commitment to local produce: Macroom Mills Flour, Treacle and Stag Stout are the ingredients. They also do a Sherkin Lass Pale Ale, Cheddar and Herb bread.

While there is an excellent wine list here, the Inn is well-known for its selection of craft beer (which chef Duncan regularly dips into to use in the various menus). And you will note a beer or a wine suggested with the main courses.
Corned beef classic

Mains include a Roast Stuffed Loin of Timoleague Pork with apple sauce and a Longueville House Cider gravy. Naturally, a bottle of the Longueville cider is suggested here. If you’ve picked the Cottage Pie then they suggest a pint of O’Hara’s Red Nitro. On the Roast Irish Chicken? Then the Cotton Ball’s Kerry Lane Pale is the drink for you.

CL though has picked what is probably the pub’s signature dish: O’Crualaoi’s Corned Beef served on champ and cabbage with parsley sauce and the Sherkin Lass from the West Cork Brewing Co. in Baltimore is a terrific pairing here. We regularly order this dish here and it is a classic and highly recommended.

I’m always on the lookout for game this time of year and the Blair boys are also noted for serving it here. The Casserole of Wild Wicklow Venison & Stag Stout with a hint of dark chocolate catches my eye and soon my tastebuds are enjoying it. The combination, enhanced by various spices and herbs, is magnificent, quite a feast at lunchtime! And the drink? Well that’s an easy one. It’s the  equally magnificent Stag Saor from the crew at 9 White Deer, a gluten free stout stuffed with flavour.

And talking about being stuffed. Well, we were. Along with those two mega dishes, came a bowl of seasonal veg and another full of unblemished and perfectly cooked Rooster potatoes. By the way, the place was filling up nicely now and, above the rising level of conversation, I heard quite a few people ordering the venison.

Aside from the various meats, there’s also about three fish dishes available, a curry, plus various salads and sandwiches. Wicklow Pheasant is also on the menu this time of year as well as a Roast of the Day.

There’s a terrific choice of starters too including a Confit of Twomey’s Pork Belly, McCarthy’s Black Pudding with a Gubbeen Chorizo and Bean Ragu. Check out also the Tartlet of Bluebell Falls goat cheese with creamed leeks and caramelised onions. Those starters are substantial enough but some, such as the Cromane mussels Poached in a white wine and cream sauce, can also be upgraded to a mains.

Indeed, that was also the case with my pick, the Warm Salad of Cashel Blue Cheese, Roasted Pears and Honeyed Walnuts (a delicious opener at €9.40 or a mains at €14.50).  

Those of you who have not been will, I’m sure, enjoy this traditional Irish pub, the unexpectedly quality of the food (all from local produce), those craft beers, the warm fire and the very warm welcome from the whole crew here, a great place for locals and tourists alike. If you are calling at weekends for food, you would be as well off to make a reservation.

Co. Cork
Tel: (021) 438 1470
Facebook Page here 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Game On at Blairs Inn

Game On at Blairs Inn
Venison casserole

The crew in Blairs Inn in Cloghroe are always game for a laugh, summer or winter. But this time of year, four-legged and feathered game is in season and is served up in many delicious ways by the kitchen of this renowned country pub, a few miles from Cork City and Blarney.

A laugh and a smile are guaranteed here, directions too if you’re a tourist seeking the next beauty spot or watering hole; they’ve even been known to change a wheel for a customer. 

Not that you’ll ever be in a hurry to leave the pub. In winter, the fires are burning and the company's good. You’ll get the same company in the summer in the garden by the little Sheep River. And it’s also a terrific place for craft beer, one of the first places in Ireland where I was given a multi-page craft beer menu to choose from.

The craft beer is still going strong here and, indeed, the beer I had for lunch was something special. It is a Gluten Free stout, Stag Saor*, and is on draught, Ireland's first. 

GF and on draught
Richard Blair, one of two brothers now running the pub, told me of a satisfied customer of a few days earlier. A coeliac, the man hadn’t drunk stout, his favourite tipple, for twenty years but, having sampled the Star Saor, left Blair's Inn with tears of gratitude.

I had noticed they were using the Ballyvourney stout in my Venison Casserole so, of course, I ordered a pint. And it proved a great match for the rich casserole of Wicklow venison (16.95) which was served with a side dish of root vegetables, some broccoli too and a big baked potato! Great stuff.

CL was eagerly tucking into her Wild Irish Pheasant (half!), with aromatic gin and juniper stuffing, mushrooms and a red wine sauce (16.50). Another superb dish. Thought she might have had a G & T with this but no she settled, quite happily as it turned out, for the Scarlet Pimpernel by Killarney Brewing.

Lots of choice here, including the corned beef dish for which the Blairs are well known. Meat features strongly but, in fairness, they have no less then three fish dishes in the mains as well. Beside, they have one-plates meals (including a massive Wagyu beef burger), and there are salads, baps and open sandwiches.
Bluebell goats

Good choice of starters too though both of us went for cheese based dishes. Having tried, unsuccessfully, to milk one of their goats earlier in 2017, CL has a soft spot for Bluebell Falls so no surprise that she picked a warm tartlet of the cheese, with creamed leeks and smoked salmon, a terrific flavoursome dish for €8.65.

For the same money, I enjoyed a lovely salad of Gubbeen and seasonal leaves. Very pleased with that one. Indeed, very pleased with the meal overall as is consistently the case here.

* Saor is Irish for free and producers, 9 White Deer from Ballyvourney, already have a full set of Gluten Free beers in bottle.
Another venison dish, this from the evening menu.
Co. Cork
Tel: (021) 438 1470

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Old Butter Roads Food Trail Launch. Great Weekend of food and fun in Blarney.

The Old Butter Roads Food Trail Launch

Great Weekend of food and fun in Blarney
We are nothing without the producers - Chef Martina Cronin
Here are five of the best speaking in Blairs on Monday.
Clockwise from top left: Tim McCarthy, Justin Greene, Don O'Leary,
Rubert Atkinson and Pat Mulcahy.

The Old Butter Roads Food Trail is up and running following a sunny (mainly!) weekend launch in the Blarney area. The event was officially opened on Saturday in the Church of Ireland by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed.
Wild Boar at Square Table
There were butter making demos at the Butter Museum, talks at the Hydro Farm Allotments, a pony and trap delivery of churns (the symbol of the food trail) to participating businesses, an ecology walk and talk (by Tom O’Byrne) at Clogheen Milken, the Gab story-telling competition, a smoked produce demo in the Old Blarney Post Office Café, a showcase multi-course dinner in the Square Table, an open weekend at The Farm in Grenagh and a Monday demo, with food and cocktails, at Blairs Inn.

And it wasn’t just Blarney members that were involved. There were producers plus restaurant and café operators from all over the area involved, Duhallow, Muskerry and Avondhu, a serious (if fun-filled) statement of intent for the many events ahead over the rest of the year. Expect a gathering (with food for sure) at the Kerryman’s Table in Aubane, a Tapas style event in Mitchelstown, a Long Table feast by the Killavullen Farmers Market, and more.

Wagyu beef (left) and Angus rib-eye at Square Table
Current members:
Ballinwillin House
Blair’s Inn
Peppers at The White Deer
Blarney Castle Hotel
Nibbles Millstreet
The Square Table
Castle Hotel Macroom
The Old Blarney Post Office Café
Thatch & Thyme
Praline Mitchelstown
O’Callaghan’s Restaurant
Longueville House
O’Brien’s Free Range Eggs, 
Hydro Farm Allotments
Osbourne Butchers
9 White Deer Brewery
Longueville House Beverages
Annabella Farm, 
Twomey’s Butchers
Killavullen Farmers Market , McCarthy’s Butchers Kanturk
Hegarty’s Cheese, 
Toonsbridge Dairy
St Anne’s Shandon, 
Activity Days, 
The Farm Grenagh
Cork Butter Museum

List subject to change as new members join.
The Blairs, Duncan (left) and Richard trying one of his cocktails

Sunday night’s multi-course dinner in the Square Table perfectly illustrated the depth and range of produce available in the general North Cork area.

The opening selection of canapés: 
Lamb Tartare;
Toonsbridge ricotta, apple, hazelnut, beetroot;
Old MillBank smoked salmon rice paper roll, avocado, pickled ginger;
Macroom Buffalo mozzarella, basil pesto, tomato tapenade;
Carrigcleena Farm cured duck, beetroot chutney, confit ginger.

Then, from McCarthy’s Butchers in Kanturk, we had a Black Pudding Roll with house piccalilli and also Crispy Bacon with apple purée.

Next it was the turn of Michael Twomey's Butchers in Macroom: Wagyu beef burger with Hegarty’s Cheddar and house tomato chutney and also enjoyed their Agnus rib-eye with duck fat chip and O’Brien’s free range egg béarnaise.
Hake at the Square Table

Fish then had its turn and the Pan-fried hake (from K O’Connell’s), with Annabelle Farm spinach and mussel velouté was a splendid combination, another tasty testament to the produce and to the skill of Martina in the kitchen, as indeed was the whole meal.

Now we were on  to the Ballinwillin Wild Boar, braised and cured and served with caramelised potato gnocchi, aged Coolea cheese, Ballyhoura Mushrooms and wild garlic. Great stuff.

Dessert was McCarthy’s Natural Dairy’s Buttermilk, foamed, with rhubarb, confit ginger and speculous crumble. Hegarty’s Cheddar  and Toonsbridge smoked Scamorza featured on the cheese plate and the highlight here, as part of the week long tribute in Cork to Veronica Steel, was Milleens Cheese with fig jam. All washed down with a drop of apple brandy from Longueville House who earlier supplied a glass of their excellent cider.
Dessert at the Square Table

And the top class food and drink continued on Monday in the garden at Blair’s Inn where the brothers Richard and Duncan were the hosts, Richard coming up with some inventive cocktails (using everything from stout to apple brandy to gin) while Duncan did the cooking demos.

Longueville's Apple Brandy
went down well at Square Table
Highlight here were the passionate speeches from the producers. Don O’Leary of 9 White Deer Brewery, Justin Greene of Bertha’s Revenge Gin and Ballyvolane House, Timmy McCarthy of McCarthy’s Kanturk, Pat Mulcahy of Ballinwillin House, and Rupert Atkinson of Longueville House all spoke well of their own products, and of the other products of the area.

But there was no trumpet blowing at the expense of other areas. This was underlined, simply and with some wisdom, by Tim McCarthy. If you enjoy the brown bread in Mayo than that's the best in Ireland; if you enjoy the brown bread in Cork, then that's the best in Ireland. 

So enjoy the best of local, wherever you are. And if you are anywhere near the Old Butter Roads Food Trail these coming months, you will be eating, and drinking, very well indeed.
Cheese for two at Square Table
Get the latest on their Facebook Page
on Twitter at @oldbutterroads
The Old Butter Road platter at Blairs

Thursday, April 20, 2017



Duncan Blair has been on to tell us all about their plans for the launch:

> We'll have special Old Butter Road Trail dishes on our menus throughout the launch weekend (28th April to May 1st). We'll be serving artisanal Butter Road cocktails and craft beers throughout all weekend. On Bank Holiday Monday at 4pm we'll be putting on a cooking, craft cocktail and beer Demo in our garden. We be cooking up dishes and breads featuring the produce of the Butter Road.
> Hake on Waterfall Farm Kale with a caper Beurre blanc
> Confit of McCarthy's pork belly with a Gubbeen chorizo cassoulet
> Nine White Deer Stout glazed Macroom short rib of beef
> Stag Bán beer & lime sorbet with a Longueville Cider foam
> 60 second beer bread
> Cotton Ball Stout brownies
> Richie will be showing off his cocktail skills using our range of artisanal gins, vodkas & whiskeys.
> We'll be giving out samples of food and drink. We'll also be serving a special three course dinner featuring the dishes from the demo.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Summer in Blairs County

Summer in Blairs County
Summer time finds us in Blairs County, dipping into some gorgeous salads and sipping ( maybe even gulping!) some terrific craft beer in the gardens of Blair’s Inn.

Don't know of any other restaurant where you get a Beer List as a separate offering from the Wine List. And they have some fantastic beers to choose from. A couple from Dungarvan Brew Company on cask, the hugely popular Howling Gale Pale Ale from Eight Degrees along with Friar Weisse (a favourite of mine) from Franciscan Well on draught and loads more in bottle.

Cashel Blue and Roasted Pears
Top beers in bottle include the tasty West Kerry Brewery Blonde Ale (known as Beal Ban) and don’t forgot you can also have the ace Stonewell cider (dry or medium dry) in bottle from the Nohoval Brewing Company.

And then there is a star studded line-up of imports, including a  couple by Brew Dog and Sierra Nevada from the US. There is a “jokey” presentation employed by the Belgians that make Brugse Zot Blonde Ale but the brewers aren’t clowning around and this 6 per-center is a serious gem and highly recommended. Really enjoyed that one.

Oh, I almost forgot. We did go there for the lunch. And we weren't disappointed on that score either. Those Oysterhaven mussels, neat and tasty, are delicious, especially with  that White Wine and Garlic Cream Sauce.
Copper Coast Ale
from the cask!

It was super hot in the Blair’s Inn kitchen and still the team came up with the goods. Absolutely thrilled with my mains: Warm Salad of Cashel Blue Cheese and Roasted Pears. CL took the cool route and she was impressed with the Cold Meat Platter of the Day (mainly chicken and O’Crualaoi’s corned beef) served with salad, pickle and their own gorgeous Chutney.

What better way to finish off this delightful summer lunch, eaten as the little river bubbled along at the end of the garden, than with a bowl of luscious strawberries!

Now stop clowning around with my Brugse Zot. Wonder if Mr Bradley has some of those in North Main Street!