Showing posts with label Craft Beer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Craft Beer. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Following German Beer Rules Helps Elbow Lane Brew Winners. A Quart of Ale± #118.

A Quart of Ale± #118. On the craft journey with Elbow Brewery

Following German Beer Rules Helps

 Elbow Lane Brew Winners

Beer. In 5 easy lessons

“When we opened the Elbow Lane Brewery in 2014, we decided we would follow the German beer purity law known as the 

“It has worked and worked very well for us,” continued Elbow Lane Brewer Russell Garet as he opened last Wednesday’s tasting of their beers, part of a mini-series under the Cork on a Fork Festival umbrella. 

Russell Garet

That famous rule was introduced in 1516 by Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria.  The decree allows for only hops, barley, water and, later, yeast in each and every beer. It has served Bavaria very well indeed.

We started the tasting with the Elbow Lane Lager. No surprise then that it is a continental style lager. “More recently we have started using Irish Lager malt, though with a small amount of German malt. The Irish though is just as good.”

Closed lanes and signs and Elbow Lane beers

“We don’t over-process, we use old brewing methods. The lager has a slight haze, is unfiltered and takes 6 weeks overall. It has slight aromas of vanilla and of the grassy hops.”

Stout for angels,
sinners & saints
It is a very pleasant lager, refreshing and ideal with lighter dishes and curry. Russell told us it accounts for 40% of sales and appeals to the drinker of lager, whether craft or in general. It weights in at 4.4% ABV and the hops used are Saaz, Hersbrucker (for its subtle aromas) and Hercules (for its bittering qualities).

Then we were on to the second most popular beer in the Elbow Lane range: the Jawbone Pale Ale, with an ABV of 5%. “The hop here is Cascade - a very popular hop - and immediately you notice its citrus aromas. There is not a lot of bitterness - we tend to lean more towards character to match the food. It has fruity qualities, but there is no fruit in the beer!”

It was the malt that took the spotlight in the next beer, another ale, this called Wisdom with an ABV of 5.2%. There is a high concentration of Crystal Malt which gives a bolder colour and a richer caramel flavour. You get toffee on the nose and more of the caramel on the palate. “Great with smoked and roasted meats,” advised Russell. So great in this very place!

Three malts

And now for something different, their Arrow Weisse with an ABV of 5% and typical aromas of banana and clove (from the yeast). One of my favourite styles, especially those made under the purity law.

And we finished with another favourite of mine, the Angel Stout (4.4 ABV). Here the roasted malt comes into play, contributing colour and flavour. “We focus too on the hops for bitterness and they (Hercules Germany, Pilgrim UK and Williamette USA) go in early in the process.”  And so we came to the end, sipping one of the very best stouts around.

Jawbone (left) and Wisdom ales.
Crystal Malt gives a bolder colour to the Wisdom.

The five beers are the core beers here. But they do specials and seasonals from time to time, including a delicious Porter during Covid. Earlier this year they issued a beer to support Ukrainian refugees and hope to have another special in the Autumn.

The original idea sprang from a UCC experiment that caught the attention of Market Lane’s Conrad Howard and it was decided to brew in Elbow Lane. The operation started in 2014 and the emphasis from the start was on styles that match the food being served in the Market Lane Group restaurants that now include ORSO, Castle Cafe, Elbow Lane, Market Lane and most recently Goldie.

Beer of course has been around for thousands and thousands of year. “The baking of bread and the brewing of beer go hand in hand,” said Russell. “Eventually the Greeks introduced beer to Europe. Later the monasteries became influential in brewing. The Industrial Revolution saw brewing go from small scale to industrial. By the 1900s, consolidation of brands led to six giant breweries, including Watneys, owning everything beer in England. Something similar was happening in the US.”

 Scientific discoveries such as pasteurisation, the isolating of yeast and beer filtration has influenced the course of beer-making.

Modern times saw the rise of craft brewing. Russell reckoned it was inspired by small wineries on the West Coast of the US. Brewers followed suit with the likes of Sierra Nevada among the leaders. “When I started taking an interest in brewing in 1986, there were just a couple of dozen small breweries in the states, now there are over three thousand.”

It emerged during the chat that Russell and Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery shared an Alma Mater and at one stage Russell’s New York brewery Chelsea was in competition with Brooklyn.

Fancy meeting you here! Garrett Oliver (left)
and Russel Garet.

Where do the names for these beers come from? Well, they are called after alleyways in the city. There is one exception: Arrow. There is a depiction of what might be an arrow over the entrance of Elbow Lane but there is an opinion growing that it may not be an arrow at all but a part of a gate as, back in the day, there were more than a few foundries in operation in the area.

What will the next one be called? I’m kind of hoping that it be a Porter and once that’s on the bottle, I’ll be happy!

* Big thanks to Russell for the tasting, He was superb, just like his beers!

Friday, May 27, 2022

Favourite Beers of May. The Long List

 Favourite Beers of May (long list)

(Some good ones here! Going to be difficult to pick one.

Short list in a day or so.)

Amber Lager: Hope Limited Edition 26 Born To Be Free. 

NZ IPA: Wicklow Wolf Far Far Away. 

Rye Lager: Whiplash Melted Roggenbier. 

Barrel Aged: Wicklow Wolf Locavore Spring 2022 Barrel Aged Farmhouse Ale with Brettanomyces 11.9% 

DIPA: Boundary Double Nelson DIPA 8.0%; DIPA: Rye River Dam Buster Double IPA 

American Pale Ale: Otterbank Middle Lane American Pale Ale 

Single Hop Pale Ale: O Brother You’ll Pay With Your Souls Single Hop (Simcoe) Pale Ale - 

Vienna Lager: Wide Street Vienna Lager

Pale Ale: Whiplash Got To Keep On 

IPA: Rye River Big Bangin’ IPA 

American Wheat: Rye River Backwaters American Wheat 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Tom Crean Base Camp. Eat. Drink. Sleep

 Tom Crean Base Camp. Eat. Drink. Sleep.

Special delivery! That's the brewery van in the background.

The young sheep rush into their new ground and the words con brio come to mind as they dash hither and thither and investigate their new surroundings on a grassy slope near Kenmare.

And the same words could well be applied to the enterprise at the top of the town’s Main Street painted blue and known as the Tom Crean Base Camp. Aileen Crean O’Brien, grand-daughter of the legendary Antarctic explorer, leads a team than runs a B&B, a restaurant and a micro-brewery, all under the one roof.

Aileen on Carrauntoohil. Pic from Tom Crean Base Camp.

Aileen and her family seem to have inherited the determination, endurance and enterprise of her grandfather. Indeed, in 2016 a bunch of them set off for South Georgia to see at first hand what Tom had experienced in his third trip to the region (this with the explorer Shackleton). 

They certainly experienced the real thing and Aileen ended up with a broken leg and they had to wait to get to Chile to get that sorted. And, on her return, she didn’t sit back and take it easy but resumed her duties as head of the kitchen. Staff, we were told, gave her and her crutch a wide berth for a while!

Bill, in the brewery

Friends had told us that Aileen is an accomplished cook, having learned the ropes in the kitchen at the town’s famous Park Hotel under the guidance of Michelin head chef Matt d’Arcy. They later married and opened their own restaurant but Matt’s untimely death meant Aileen had to leave the business while she raised her young family. She came back in 2009 and refurbished and renamed the restaurant and accommodation in honour of her grandfather. And it keeps expanding.

The latest enterprise is their micro brewery and that was our first visit on what turned out to be quite a day in Kenmare. We had booked our tour for 3.00pm and met our guide Bill Sheppard who co-founded the brewery with Aileen in 2019. The couple had met during one of her trips to India and they married earlier this year.

Bill was born in Chester in the northwest of England. He worked as a fire fighter in the London Fire Brigade and later graduated from Chester University with a degree in Archaeology.  Now he has retrained as a brewer and is turning out quite a range of Tom Crean beers, everything from the 1% Last man Standing to the Six Magpies Stout with lots of ales (pale and red and IPA) in between.

Most of the sales are direct from their premises and he also delivers around the town pushing his trusty sack-truck. But they do have a van. After all they have customers in other Kerry towns including, appropriately, Tom Crean’s birthplace of Annascaul. 

As Bill told us the story behind the brewery, we sipped from a number of the beers, including the St Bridget’s Lager; the saint was a brewer herself. Druid’s, the wheat beer, “celebrates the landscape” and another new beer, Kerry Surf & Turf, is a tribute to land and the sea. He reckons his 6 Magpie Stout is as good as any around and Aileen uses it in one of her beef pies.

Fish Pie

The café here is a daytime venture, understandable as they also do B& B here and the day is long enough. So, from 9.00am to 4.00pm, you may have breakfast and lunch. After that, up to 6.00pm or so, there’s pizzas and a few specials as well. And all of this, at the time of writing, is in an improvised outdoor setting in the yard alongside the little brewery. Outdoor yes but well covered; it lashed when we dined after the tour and, while the place is airy enough, not a drop got through! Suppliers are all local and you can guess where the beer comes from! 

The highlight for me was “Star Seafoods Gratin” (Scallop shell, piped with mash, cod, salmon, mussels, vegges, seafood sauce, Cheddar Cheese, and Billy’s Mixed organic leaves, with fries), all in all a superb fish pie! CL meanwhile was quiet enough, concentrating on her very tasty Fish Cakes with Pineapple Salsa, Chips and Salad.  No shortage of fish in those cakes. By coincidence, Star Seafoods are a local Kenmare firm and we get quite a few deliveries from them here in Cork city, indeed, I saw them selling fish in Blarney yesterday, a very efficient outfit indeed. 

Fish Cakes

Both the starters were excellent as well: the Panko Coated Prawns (sweet chilli dip with Billy’s organic mixed leaves in a honey and mustard dressing) and the BBQ Chicken Wings (Indian Mint Dip - low fat Greek style yogurt with chilli and mixed organic leaves).

Newcomers, the Bonane Babes

Aileen, after her shift in the kitchen, then came out for a chat and that brings me back to the sheep. “Big day tomorrow getting our sheep for my front garden.  We finally got a herd number,” she told us.  “We produce our own electricity (P.V. panels provided by local firm Pro-Solar). and use the spent grain for dog biscuits (customers' dogs benefitted!) and muffins.  We will be able to feed the sheep the spent grain now and, later on, sell the lamb in the restaurant.  We are also awaiting our number for pigs and will do the same with them.  Really excited about it all.” The sheep, two boys and two girls, are settling in well and are already known as the Bonane Babes.

Quite an enterprise going on here. Quite a woman. Think her grandfather would be very proud of what Aileen and the family have accomplished here. And they’re are not finished yet!

Also on this trip: Three Days in Kerry, from Dingle to Kenmare. Check out the sights, the food, the hotels and B&Bs here.

Tour de Munster at the Base Camp last month. Pic from Tom Crean Base Camp.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #43 On the craft journey. Illustrating German Lagers.

A Quart of Ale± #43

On the craft journey. Illustrating German Lagers.

Veltins Grevensteiner Naturtrübes Helles, 5.2%, 500ml bottle via Bradleys

Pale gold is the colour of this Helles, a lager associated with the Munich area.  Head is very short-lived (they claim a “stable” head but not from this bottle) and the effervescence is barely noticeable - it is unfiltered. Aromas are mild and malty. This rather lightweight Helles is fruity and fresh on the palate, well-balanced and easy-drinking, a pleasing but hardly outstanding quaffer.

The Helles (which means pale) is a cool, refreshing, everyday beer that pairs well with salads, shrimp, or fish. Like the Dunkel, Munich Helles usually falls in the range of 4%- to 6% ABV, making it a nice session beer for a warm day.

They say: Brothers Carl and Anton Veltins brewed an enjoyable light Grevensteiner for special occasions - mild, light to drink and, as was customary at the time, naturally cloudy. With its fruity and fresh note and a fine malt aroma, Grevensteiner Hell is harmoniously rounded off in taste.

The history of the Veltins goes back close to 200 years and quite a few Germany brewers go back further than that. Some of these breweries are quite large now. 

What of craft beer in the country? According to the latest World Atlas of Beer “the notion of craft beer has arrived and is fair buzzing in Berlin and Hamburg, but elsewhere such beers are thinner on the ground.” It seems the vast majority of German brewers, both big and small, continue to make reliable, local versions of familiar styles. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Klosterbrau Weißenohe Glocken Hell, 5.0%, 500ml bottle via Bradleys

Poured this into a tall-ish glass (Metalman) at quite a rate and got myself a good head, three-fingers, as a result. Millions of bubbles rise rapidly through the clear amber liquid. Floral and slightly spicy notes from the aromas. Elegant and finely spicy on the palate, a touch of malty sweetness too and, of course, no shortage of refreshment.

Just the job at the end of the day! When the evening bell tolls, have a pint. Was reading the label, with the help of Google translate. 

“Then as now, the sound of the Weissenoher church tower not only announces moments of prayer and contemplation. It also determines the mundane daily rhythm. … One of the nicest moments of the day is surely the end of the day. Ring in your evening with our Glocken Hell.”

From a Benedictine cloister to a cloister brewery – that was just a small step to take for the friars of Weißenohe. The Kloster Brewery was founded around 1050. According to the Beer Handbook, it has three beers that you should look out for. One is the signature Altfränkisch Klosterbier, the second is Eucharius Märzan and the third is Bonator Dopplebock (pretty sure I have that in my queue). 

Rothaus Märzen, 5.6%, 500ml bottle via Bradley

Give this German a robust pour and you’ll get a decent white head that hangs around for a spell. The important bit comes after that, the light gold body and the zillions of micro-bubbles in the ever-rising fountains. Herbs crowd the aromas, nothing too intense. The smooth body is more malt (rich and bready) than hops with a fruit input in between and a mild tartness. Quite a balanced beer actually, easy drinking, an enjoyable companion at either lunch or dinner.

So where did Marzen come from? Beers of this type of brewing are traditionally more heavily brewed, as brewing was only allowed in the months from September to April. A beer with a longer shelf life was thus produced in March, which also survived the five months without a brewing process and was produced just in time for Octoberfest.

According to the Beer Connoisseur, the Märzen style is a malty, amber, European-style lager that can trace the roots of its modern variants all the way back to 1841, when Spaten created the first recipe for the style. Märzen become the official beer of Munich’s Oktoberfest in 1872, a tradition that lasted over 100 years when it was replaced by the lighter-bodied, golden-colored Festbier in the 1990 Oktoberfest. Yet many Oktoberfest beers are still technically Märzens.

It is a full-bodied, luscious beer with the unique barley malt from southern Germany bolstering its character. Fresh brewing water as well as the famous hops from Tettnang and the Hallertau make the taste experience more or less perfect. So well done to the Rothaus master brewers who have produced a top class beer that has been a favourite for decades.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen, 5.1%, 500ml bottle via Bradleys

This original smoked beer, now regarded as a classic, has been Bamberg's specialty for centuries. A dark bottom fermented lager beer, brewed with 100% smoked malt from the Schlenkerla maltings.

Black is the colour with a soft cream/coffee coloured head that stays around for a spell. Must admit I’d been expecting to find the smoke in the aromas but is is much more striking in the flavours, a kind of unrelenting smoky bacon. A dark bottom-fermented lager beer, brewed with 100% smoked malt from the Schlenkerla maltings. The brewery is also a maltster.

The Story: Schlenkerla smoked malt is kilned directly over an open wood fire. The smoke from this fire penetrates the malt and gives it its unique smoky flavour. Until the invention of modern malting systems in the 17th and 18th century with heat exchangers running on coal, oil or gas, smoke kilns were THE standard. As the new industrial form of malting was much more cost efficient, the smoke kilns everywhere were closed down. Not so at Schlenkerla!

Indeed,  Slow Food® has made Schlenkerla Rauchbier a passenger in its “Ark of Taste”.

Kegworks say Rauchbier will generally have a light copper to dark brown colour with an ABV of around 5-6%. The aroma and taste will have a combination of smokey and malty flavours to it.

Bamberg is, surprisingly, one of the top brewing cities in Germany, synonymous with Rauchbier. Beer FAQ says our Rauchbier is the one with which most been enthusiasts worldwide are familiar. “The brewery..traces production back to 1405…still taps the traditional brew from wooden barrels”. Sounds like a place to visit for sure. Don’t like smoky? Don’t worry they have a brewery here for every 8,000 people and you may sample multiple beer styles.

German lager types

“Pils” may be Germany’s most well-known lager. Aromatic, crisp and moderately bitter it is refreshing and a terrific session beer.

Maibock is the spring beer (Mai = May). Hops and malts get a turn here. Quite versatile at the table with pasta dishes, salmon, or shellfish recommended.

Märzen has traditionally been brewed in March to be enjoyed at festivals starting in September. Again, there’s usually a good balance between malts and hops and you can enjoy it at Oktobertfest with the schnitzel, brockwurst and game.

Helles can be easily found in Munich, its crisp finish similar to Pils. Cool and refreshing, this everyday beer goes well with salads, shrimp, or fish, an excellent session beer.

There are quite a few other types including Rauchbier (see the Schlenkerla above). And our own Whiplash have a terrific Black lager, appearing soon in The Quart. You'll also come across Kolsch which is a hybrid, meaning that its producers employ elements and techniques of both lager and ale.

How To Pour A German Lager From A Bottle*

1. Tilt the glass or stein at a 45 degree angle.

2. Place the tip of the bottle in the glass, and pour the beer quickly down the side.

3. Start to straighten the glass as the beer reaches the top to create a nice head of foam.

* from 

Friday, March 26, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #44. On the craft journey with Whiplash Brewery


A Quart of Ale± #44

On the craft journey with Whiplash Brewery.

The Whiplash Story, so far!

Alan Wolfe and Alex Lawes met while working together at Rye River Brewing Company. Alex was a home-brewer with a few steps taken into professional brewing through different previous projects, and Alan - an operations manager coming from a few long stints at large breweries. They formed Whiplash and released a couple of beers in year one to a great reception. 

Being awarded Beer of the Year by Irish consumers, Best Brewery nods from bloggers, Honest Brew's Breakthrough Brewery award and landing in as Ireland's top rated brewery on Untappd was a serious encouragement to take the project full time.

By 2017 both had done just that, leaving behind 24hr shift brewing schedules, meetings in suits and a small part of their minds; for a better and more enjoyable arrangement. Alex doing the brewing, Alan doing the commercials with crossovers wherever they could. 

2018: they go full time including brewing at facilities across Ireland and Europe

2019: the announcement of their new brewery in Dublin along with the establishment of Fidelity - Ireland’s best international beer festival. 

2020 the brewery continued to release brand new beers against the backdrop of global hospitality shutdowns.

January 2021: were proud to make a reappearance in the Honest Brew awards, this time scooping Best International Brewery. 

Whiplash beers are now exported to the UK, Italy, Spain, France, Finland and the Netherlands too with more coming up. Quality is always and will always be the focus. Whiplash Beer employs 9 people and exports internationally to countries such as the UK, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Finland, China & Japan.

Whiplash “Dark Steering” Schwarzbier, 5.2%, 440ml can*

Dark Steering is the name of the Whiplash style Schwarzbier. Colour is after midnight in the Black Forest. The tan foam head quits like a match in the Redbarn wind. Aromas are forest floor; no, just joking, more like a mild chocolate with a hint of cherry in the mix. The body is much lighter than you’d expect. This black lager is easy-drinking, with that mild chocolate flavour a pleasing factor as this refreshing beer makes its way across the palate before finishing with a slight sweet touch, all the while nicely balanced by a fine lip-drying acidity.

Regarded in some quarters as a cold weather beer, this is best enjoyed alongside heavy, home-cooked German sausages (O’Flynn’s will do just as well), game meats, or pastries.

Whiplash say: Dark Steering is a Schwarzbier, Whiplash style. Built on a base of German Munich and an infusion of softer-than-soft water: we’ve peppered this with loads and loads of continental light Aromatic Malt, a very light sprinkling of Chocolate malt for colour and given this the full lager treatment. Boiled with only the finest Hallertau Magnum for a soft bitterness then flung into a fermenter to meet our old pal WLP833 – it’s fermented then given that long lager sleep it deserves.

The recent history of this style goes back to the toppling of the Berlin Wall (according to World Atlas of Beer). “What the five East German states brought back to the nation was Schwarzbier. They are not the equivalent of stout or porter, have a far less roasted malt character and a gentle quaffable disposition that positions them better as the yin to the Helles’ yang.” The Atlas recommends you get your hands on the Köstritzer from Bitburger Brewing, “the classic of the style”. For me, I’ll quite happy with my Whiplash.

Details: Munich Malt, Aromatic Malt, Chocolate Malt, Magnum, 

WLP883. ABV 5.2%. 440ml Cans. Artwork by Sophie Devere

Whiplash “Saunter” Belgian Dubbel, 8.3%, 440ml can*

This Whiplash Dubbel pours into the glass in a reddish-brown robe, topped briefly with a tan head. Dried fruits lead the aromas - Whiplash used dates as an adjunct. And you note them also on the fruity palate, along with coffee and caramel, quite an engaging and unique combination. Terrific body and balance. Perhaps I should have poured it into a wine glass. Next time, and there will be a next time, I will.

Never been a great fan of high ABV beers but there have been exceptions, most recently Devil’s Ladder (Eight Degrees), and I have no problem adding this limited edition Whiplash to the gradually increasing list. Sometimes, more often than not, the concentration of the alcohol consigns flavour to a black hole, but not always. And certainly not here!

They say: A base of Continental Pils, Dark Munich and Special B and Belgian sugar is all you need to let good complex yeast do its job. We’ve gone for a light touch of Magnum in there and some soft water then fermented on WLP530, a yeast originally from a somewhat famous Abbey brewery. What we love about this yeast is the heavy raisin and molasses character it can bring out in the beer while retaining a drinkability. To add to that, we’ve included a healthy addition of dates…

Geek Bits:

Pilsner Malt

Munich Malt

Special B



ABV 8.3%

Artwork by @Sophie_devere

Whiplash Melodie Noir Baltic Porter, 7.2%, 440ml can *

Okay, the basics. It’s black, a coffee coloured head that doesn’t hang about (always a strong clue, I think, that we have a porter rather than a stout at hand). Not your usual porter though. The Baltic-style Porter is a smooth, cold-fermented and cold-lagered beer brewed with lager yeast.

Cherry and chocolate on the nose, nothing over-intense.  But the introduction to the palate is intense. Very soon though, all the toasty stuff, the bread, the biscuits, plus the dark chocolate, separates out and you begin to enjoy the full flavours. And it is so silky smooth as it heads towards the moderately bitter finalé. 

Big credit to brewer Lynsey Campbell for pulling all this together, a bit like melding an Anfield lager-infused version of you’ll Never Walk Alone with a more formal religious take of the anthem by a full choir. Launched at the end of 2020, this Melody Noir is quite the hit!

They say: Our first Baltic Porter is everything we want in one. We’ve built Melody Noir with a super soft water base and stayed true to the style focusing on continental Pilsner, Dark Munich, Carabohemian and Chocolate Malt. Melody is lightly bittered with Hallertau Magnum in kettle and rightly fermented using our house lager strain of yeast WLP833.

Artwork by Sophie Devere

* Samples kindly supplied by the brewery. Have a few more that will feature in future posts.