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

Monday, May 1, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #21. Craft Wheat beer with Rye River, Tom Crean, Whitefield, Ballykilcavan.

CorkBillyBeers #21

Craft Wheat beer with Rye River, Tom Crean, Whitefield, Ballykilcavan


Rye River Backwaters American Wheat, 6.2% ABV, 500 ml bottle Supervalu

Beers brewed in this American Wheat style do not exhibit the clove or high levels of banana-like esters that are hallmarks of the Bavarian wheat beer styles. And this is the case here. Regular European wheat beers use special strains of yeast that produce notes of banana and clove as by-products of fermentation.

Backwaters has the clear golden colour you’d expect from a wheat beer. Dank aromas rise from the glass in a diplomatic kind of way, nothing extreme, plus mild aromas of passion fruit and citrus. The hops, Cascade and Strata, bring bright fresh fruit. 

With the darker colour and malt prominent, you are inclined to think lager rather than wheat beer. But everything’s fine in this beer garden from start to a very satisfactory clean and crisp finish, hops and malts combining more or less perfectly.

And that dankness? Well it comes from the Strata which has been described as “Passion fruit meets pot.” Along with the exotic fruit comes this herbal note of drifting cannabis (the dankness)


Cascade is one of the best known hops and has been described as the hop  “that made hops famous”. Bursting with zesty grapefruit flavour and aroma, Cascade, with its bright citrus and some soft floral and spice, is a real treat and is credited with the making of American Pale. In this wheat beer, it also plays a crucial role. In fairness, Rye River have used their ingredients well and we have a good one in our hands.

Very Highly Recommended.

Geeks Bits




Tom Crean Druid’s Wheat Beer, 4.2% ABV, 440ml can, Carry Out Killarney

Druid’s, the wheat beer, “celebrates the landscape”,  according to the brewery. “… a beer that gives acknowledgement to our rich local ancient history, we used delicately smoked oak malted barley, the reduced hop bill allows the full wheat and yeast flavours to dominate.” 

Colour is a hazy pale lemon/yellow with a soft white head that soon loses height. The delicately smoked barley and the yeast has its say as seems to have been the intention here. Finishes with a refreshing tartness.

Not your classic wheat beer, but not a million miles away either. Brewer Bill Shepherd has his way of doing things.  He has his fans. In Christmas 2021 the Independent’s Aoife Carrigy recommended this as one of her 10 great Irish beers to pair with festive food.


Bill was born in Chester in the northwest of England. He worked as a firefighter in the London Fire Brigade and later graduated from Chester University with a degree in Archaeology.  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.

With a wide range of beers and ales brewed on the premises, including prize winners, their brewery bar is the perfect place to enjoy a refreshing pint and soak in the atmosphere. Head over to the brewery page here  for more info…

For a recent post on the brewery go here.  



Whitefield The Banker Weissbier, 5.2% ABV, 500 ml bottle No. 21

Whitefield’s Cuilan tells us about this beer: A slight twist on the German classic wheat beer the addition of rye malt gives a drier, lighter flavour profile and is very refreshing on warm summer days. Yes! I know we live in Ireland.”

The brewery kit in Templemore was made to make wheat beer. Really. “Our brewhouse was originally commissioned by Pauliner, so it is designed as a wheat beer brewery. The fermentation tanks are low, wide and flat bottomed to help maintain consistent flavour profile while using a volatile yeast. So it comes as no surprise that our best sellers in both draught and bottle are Weiss beers. This makes it tricky to brew drier hoppy beers, so we focus on the malty styles of beer with plenty of sweetness.”

Colour here is a mid-amber, no haze and you can see fountains of little bubbles rising. The head doesn’t hang about. Aromas are on the modest side, hints of spice perhaps, rye perhaps. On the palate, there is no shortage of flavour, banana and clove included. An excellent supple drink with flavours continuing to a refreshing finish.

Highly Recommended.

Recent detailed post on Whitefield here.


Ballykilcavan Robinson's Revenge Raspberry Wheat Beer 5.00% ABV, 440ml can CraftCentral

In the winter of 1861, after a bitter quarrel, the famous gardener William Robinson stormed out of Ballykilcavan opening all the greenhouses to kill the plants in them. This American Raspberry Wheat Beer gets his name from that vengeful act. That’s the story, at least one side of it, behind the beer’s name.

Colour is a darkish amber/orange, murky (enough to enable dastardly acts). Aromas are modest with hops taking a firm grip early on. And never really letting go though the raspberry (listed in the ingredients) gets a turn in the mouth before the US hops closes its grip again.

Ingredients: Water, wheat, Barley, Oats, Raspberries, Hops, Yeast.

The producers: “Ballykilcavan Farm has been the home of our family 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.”

Ballykilcavan is an amazing place. We recently published a post on the brewery there and you may read it here


Tuesday, April 4, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #19. Craft IPA with 9 White Deer, Hope, Ballykilcavan and Torc

CorkBillyBeers #19

Craft IPA with 9 White Deer, Hope, Ballykilcavan and Torc


9 White Deer Stag IPA 5.00% ABV, 500ml bottle

I know it comes with a red/orange label but wasn’t really expecting this Stag IPA to have such a deep red/orange colour, with a slightly off-white head. 

You’ll get fruit and floral notes in the aromas but malt is quite a factor also. Really big flavours on the palate. Very supple, quite a heavyweight actually, with a well balanced aspect, even if hops have the edge in the final stretch. After all, the sub-title on the front label indicates this is a hoppy pale ale and so it is. A very good American style IPA at that.

They say: A Classic IPA, using vast quantities of new age hops, this gluten free IPA is full of flavour. Hop usage is late in the boil which gives big flavours and aroma without big bitterness. IPAs never serviced the gluten free market but that is now changed, and what a beer to change it with. A well balanced quaffable IPA bursting with flavour and aroma.

By the way, 9 White Deer take that little bit longer to mature all their beers. Feel the labels in bottles and even here, you get the “premierisation” effect. And I think you also get it in spades when you taste these well-made beers from Ballyvourney. No rush in this brewery. “We create superior brews by being respectful to our ingredients and maturing process, which results in exceptional beers that are also gluten free.” Their dedication and patience pays off in beers like this IPA.

Very Highly Recommended

Recent post on 9 White Deer here


Hope Limited Edition No. 28 Double Rye IPA 8.5%, 400ml can

This big Rye IPA comes in an attractive amber/orange colour and is quite hazy. The spice of the Rye and the citrus of the Centennial feature in the aromas. And you also meet them on the palate where the interaction is absolutely outstanding. Very impressive.

Hope brewers balanced the strong influence of the malted rye firstly by “a mountain of Centennial, the classic American citrus hop, which we use in the kettle, whirlpool, and in two dry hop additions”.

They also used CryoPop, a new product from Yakima Chief, that

blends various Cryo Hops.

“The result,” they say, “is a huge IPA, which combines the spicy malt flavours of Rye, with the orange and grapefruit flavours of Centennial, all lifted by the tropical fruit flavours of Cryo-Pop hops”. Well worth checking out. 

But take your time and enjoy this a sip at a time as it is very easy-drinking for a beer that packs an 8.5% ABV. You’ll find that a sip of this excellent beer will also go a long way, so why hurry?

Geek Bits

Serving Temperature: 8-10 degrees

Bitterness: 70 IBU

Alcohol: 8.5%

Colour: 18.5 EBC

Very Highly Recommended

Recent post on Ballykilcavan here


Ballykilcavan Long Meadow IPA, 5.0% ABV, 440ml can CraftCentral

This IPA from Laois, named after a 300 years 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. The malt plays a role in the aromatics with the hops, Azacca and Amarillo, contributing tropical and citrus. The palate is well loaded with the tropical fruit flavours, and there’s a hint of pith in its pleasingly bitterness. Again, the biscuity malt anchors it all well and the balance is good. The finish to this Long Meadow ale is quite satisfactory indeed.

By the way, if you'd like to visit the farm and have a look at the brewery, they'd love to show you around. “You'll hear the family stories from the more than 380 years that we've been at Ballykilcavan, and see the 18th century farmyard behind the brewery. Weather permitting, we'll bring you to the old stable yard, the champion black walnut tree of Ireland and the remains of the walled garden. Then we'll bring you into the brewery itself to find out how we make our beers.” Check the website here. 

Highly Recommended


Torc Kingdom IPA, 5.0% ABV, 500ml bottle, Carry Out Killarney (Muckross Rd)

Torc Brewing has been brewing and delivering local Irish craft beer to the people of Killarney since 2014. This is their “smooth and full bodied Indian Pale Ale. Made with Irish malted barley and balanced with European hops for a traditional style IPA.”

One thing struck me though as I looked at the list of ingredients. Traditional, or any other, IPA that I’ve come across doesn’t include lactose and sugar in the ingredients as this one does. The other ingredients by the way are more usual: Wheat, Barley, Hops, Yeast, and Water.

It has a hazy pale gold colour and a short-lived white head. Hops are not overly prominent though there seems some citrus (grapefruit) about on the palate as well as sweetness. Decent enough body and satisfactory finish. Torc’s traditional style seems to be a toned down sweeter version of the modern American IPA.



Tuesday, March 28, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #17. Craft Session with Brehon, Kinnegar, Third Barrel, Ballykilcavan.

CorkBillyBeers #17

Craft Session with Brehon, Kinnegar, Third Barrel, Ballykilcavan.


Brehon Seisún Pale Ale, 3.5% ABV, 500 bottle

The name of this brew, Seisiún, is inspired by the Irish for rousing songs, great drinks, good company and craic.  “We are delighted to bring you this light ale loaded with citrus flavours.”

Colour is a gorgeous mid to dark amber colour with red tints and a soft white head. Grapefruit seeps out of the aromas and leaps out on the palate, a dry and refreshing palate with a clean and dry citrusy finish. Even at 3.5%, this one packs quite a flavoursome punch.

Brehon tells us (and the evidence is here) that pale ales “tend to be lighter than standard beers. They tend to be malty, medium-bodied and are easy to drink. Some say they bridge the gap between dark stouts and lighter”.

Very Highly Recommended.


Kinnegar Brewers at Play #29 Session IPA, 4.0% ABV, 440ml can Bradleys

This is the first new beer of 2023 from Kinnegar and extends their Brewers at Play series to number 29!

It is a hazy pale gold with a soft white head that sinks slowly. Aromas are of the citrus variety, of moderate intensity. And so it continues on the palate where it is light and refreshingly dry. Very well made indeed, maybe not as innovative as some in the Brewers at Play Series but one that could well outlast some of the others.

They are pushing it as a good one to take us through dry January. But I see it as good company for a much longer period. Be glad to enjoy a few on an easy going summer evening, sun or no sun.

Significantly, it is less hoppy than the Third Barrel and that will suit quite a few punters.

Highly Recommended


Third Barrel Boom Session IPA, 4.5%, 440ml can Bradleys

Clean, crisp and proper refreshing, this Session IPA bursts with aromas of grapefruit and lime from a heavy does of Mosaic and centennial hops. That’s the intro to this Session IPA from Third Barrel

Colour is a mid gold, hazy, with a white head that stays a bit.  Nose is full of hoppy aromas and you meet the characteristics of Mosaic and Centennial again on the palate. Crisp and clean and happily refreshing, this is one for the short list.

This was the flagship beer “of our founding company @stonebarrelbrewing has now been taken under our wing and given a full Third Barrel makeover”.

Very Highly Recommended.


Ballykilcavan Millhouse Session IPA, 3.5% ABV, 440ml can CraftCentral

A light refreshing Session Ale, double dry hopped, for maximum taste. That’s Ballykilcavan’s intro to their Millhouse Session IPA.

Colour is a hazy gold, with a fairly short-lived white head. Aromas speak of hop bitterness -it has been double dry-hopped. And that double kick is also to the fore in the flavour and also in the finish. Yet the hops (IBU48) are not allowed to upset the balance too much, the more exotic flavours are tamer than you’d expect, and this flavoursome Pale Ale is a welcome addition to session choices.

Ingredients are Water, Malted Barley, Wheat, Oats, Hops, Yeast. The Barley and Water is 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 say the organic oats from the neighbouring farm, The Merry Mill, are also credited with the “lovely balance”. Oats are usually credited with helping give a fuller body and a silky mouthfeel, traditionally in stouts, but now in other styles as well. Hard to generalise though as there are variations. Unmalted oats - and it seems this is unmalted - are more known as a body-builder component and as potential contributor of some hazy compounds for styles.

Lots of breweries are now watching their environmental responsibilities and Ballykilcavan are no exception. Here are a couple of their alternatives to glass containers when out and about at festivals.

1- Cut out the plastic with this stainless steel, reusable, festival pint cup. Keeps your beer colder for longer and helps the environment at the same time.

2- Our replacement for single use plastic pint glasses for all the events and festivals we attend from now on. Reusable, dishwasher safe and easy on the eye, it's perfect for festivals or camping.

Highly Recommended

Sunday, March 19, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #16: Craft with Red Ale by Ballykilcavan, 9 White Deer, O'Hara's and Rascals

CorkBillyBeers #16

Craft with Red Ale by Ballykilcavan,  9 White Deer, O'Hara's and Rascals


Ballykilcavan Brick Yard Red Ale, 4.2% ABV, 440 ml can, 

A fine introduction to red ales and bound to please anyone who is a fan of the style! That’s how Ballykilcavan introduce their Brick Yard Red Ale. And it is indeed a very fair representation.

Colour is an attractive mid red, bright, with a light off-white head that doesn't linger too long. Not too much in the aromas; aside from the malt influence, you may note perhaps a hint of mint and honey. The body is medium sweet, the rich malt doing the business. The hops, Fuggle and Golding, aren’t exactly there just for the ride and they, with their woody and grassy contributions, come on more towards the dry lip-licking finalé. The finish itself has a moderate bitterness (IBU number is 25)

This traditional Irish red ale is brewed by Ballykilcavan using malts and water from their own farm in County Laois.

Ballykilcavan is a 440 hectare block of beautifully landscaped farmland and forestry in the heart of Ireland. We are very fortunate that our ancestors loved the look of the farm and left in almost all the landscape features, particularly the hedgerows and trees in the fields. We also still have our original 18th century stone farmyard, 19th century stable yard, walled garden and gardener's tunnel as well as the champion black walnut tree of Ireland.

Its barley is renowned: “We have won a Boortmalt barley grower award, and won the first ever Best Barley Cup for Waterford Distillery growers. With the opening of a brewery at Ballykilcavan, we are now able to use our award-winning barley to produce our own beers.”

Highly Recommended


9 White Deer Stag Rua 4.2% ABV, 500ml bottle

“Easy going malt focussed beer, using a mix of ale, crystal ad chocolate malts resulting in a deep ruby red colour.” 

A very deep ruby with an off white head. Indeed at first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a glass of stout was on the way to you.

Darker but with the same ABV as the Ballykilcavan. Chocolate and crystal malts have been used liberally here and there is quite a presence of chocolate, caramel and toffee on the palate (though some fruit notes reveal themselves too). But nothing drastic, nothing too extreme, the balance is good. The beer is a good one with a fine finish.

Stag Rua is a beer with big malt flavours and it’s our impression of a perfect Irish Red Ale. Can’t argue too much with that.

Very Highly Recommended.

Is Red Ale an Irish style? In the 1970s, beer writer Michael Jackson is credited with giving the tag to Smithwicks. According to World Atlas of Beer, American beer competitions started awarding prizes for the category and smaller Irish breweries started to “launch highly-hopped higher strength or even barrel aged versions”

The recent Brew Dog books mention only the American Red, in fact they barely mention the Irish scene at all. Sláinte (2014) acknowledges that there is some “dissent” about Red being an Irish style but say some local breweries have “evolved the style”.

Looks like the style is still evolving.


O’Hara’s Nitro Irish Red 4.3% ABV, 440ml can CraftCentral

Smooth and creamy says the label and that is accurate, after a good pour by yours truly. 

Colour is one of the deepest ruby reds you are likely to see and the head is white and steady. Aromas come from the malt including a hint of biscuit. The late addition of Mt. Hood hops is credited with adding an “unmistakable fruity and almost herbal quality” to the aromas. And the flavours come mostly from the same source as the aromas, the malt bringing its sweet caramel and that biscuit again. Really smooth in the mouth on the way to a comforting finish.

Not too much experience of Nitro but I’m thinking it adds more to a red ale than to a stout. 

Highly Recommended.

The brewers note: The wonderful malty caramel notes and flavours found in our Irish Red come from a healthy addition of caramalt to the mashing process.The sweetness generated is balanced with dryness of the crystal malts. Visually the Red colour is intensified by the finest roast barley, while subtle hop additions in the kettle give just the right bitterness and aroma to craft this distinctive Irish Red Ale. The nitrogenation process subtly mellows the flavours together and compliments with a smooth creamy texture.

Pairs well with baked and roasted main courses from the oven such as beef hotpot. Also excellent with winter soups. Delicious accompaniment to mature cheddar or soft goats cheeses.


Rascals Big Hop Red, 5% ABV, 330 ml can CraftCentral

Lively. Piney. Zesty.Malty.

That’s how Rascals introduce this big hop red, an American Amber Ale, so an outlier in this quartet.

Colour is as much amber as red and the white head is gone as I start this sentence. Big Hop Red has been dry hopped to give it an extra kick of zesty hop flavour and piney aroma. 

Aromas are indeed piney and zesty from the hops and a whiff of sweetness from the malts. So pine and resin in the aromas and they continue their engagement with the malt in the mouth. It is an lively arena with the hops also offering citrus flavours, less of the exotic than might be expected (suits me fine!), and quite a balancing act being performed by the caramel and biscuit notes from the malts.

Hoppy and malty they say. Hoppy and malty, I agree. I admit I thought this might be a lightweight bit of fun. But it is more than than, quite enjoyable and something new in the red ale style.

Highly Recommended.


Style: American Amber Ale
Malts: Pale, Munich, Caramalt, Crystal
Hops: Cascade, Citra, Ekuanot, Magnum, Chinook (all USA except for the German Magnum).
Bitterness: Low – medium
ABV: 5%

Available: All Year Round