Showing posts with label Galway Hooker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Galway Hooker. Show all posts

Friday, September 15, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #44. Craft with an excellent quartet from Galway Hooker, Ballykilcavan, Kinnegar and Vedett

CorkBillyBeers #44

Craft with IPA and Pilsner from Galway Hooker, Ballykilcavan, Kinnegar and Vedett


Galway Hooker Sixty Knots IPA, 5.5% ABV, 500 ml bottle Centra Victoria Cross

Amber is the colour of this IPA from Galway Hooker. The earthy malts come through more in the aromatics than the hops and continue to contribute, now adding a touch of spice, on the full-flavoured palate while the hops get their turn with citrus and tropical flavopurs. The finish is certainly bitter but no more so than you'd expect from the style and, overall, Sixty Knots is well-balanced.

Highly Recommended.

A pioneer of the modern craft beer movement, famous for its innovation and quality. Galway Hooker, whose early production was actually in Roscommon, has developed a reputation as one of Ireland’s leading breweries. “Our ethos is to brew natural, full-flavoured, high quality and preservative-free beers. We like to think our beer helps to share the culture in all of us.” 

This IPA with an ABV of 5.5% and an IBU number of 60 certainly fits well in their portfolio. The brewers say it is well suited to seafood, cured meats or dessert dishes and, on Instagram, declare that “Galway Hooker IPA & Oysters are a perfect combination” and a Galway company would certainly know that! It is widely available in cans and bottles and also in kegs and draught.


Ballykilcavan Long Meadow IPA, 5.00% ABV, 440 ml can, Pettitt’s Athy

This IPA from Laois, named after a 300-year-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. 

Aromas are mild, with the malt doing its own sweet thing and the hops, Azacca and Amarillo, contributing tropical and citrus plus a touch of herbal. The flavours are strong and hoppy (tropical and a touch of pine). Smooth with a terrific balance and one to savour.

Very Highly Recommended.

The water and barley also come from the farm and the IBU is 60. Local beer guru Susan Boyle reviewed this in its early days and declared: Ballykilcavan Brewery is a pioneer in Irish farm-to-glass brewing, and Long Meadow IPA is a beer to return to again and again.


Kinnegar Black Bucket Black Rye IPA 6.5% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

This is one of the impressive line-up of core beers at Kinnegar. They call this Brussels Beer Challenge gold medal winner “The bigger, darker brother to our Rustbucket Rye”.

I made my first acquaintance with this in 2018. It is indeed rather special. Looks black in the glass but a closer inspection reveals brown as well; the head is coffee-coloured. Aromas are mostly of the roasted malt (big and rich);  the spice of the rye makes quite an impression on the palate and there’s fruity flavours (tropical mostly) from the hops.

Quite a complex beer, a lot going on in this bucket, but the balance is excellent. an outstanding drop and Very Highly Recommended. The Rustbucket, by the way, is an “old reliable”, and is well into its second decade now. 


Vedett Extra Pilsner, 5.2% ABV, 330 ml bottle Bradleys

A pretty damn good blond premium lager.

Vedett doesn't pull punches: “Got a thirst that can’t be beat? We’ll see about that! Because Vedett Extra Pilsner is brewed to quench even the most stubborn of thirsts. Offering full-bodied refreshment from start to finish.”

Colour is a pretty ordinary straw with a clean white head. There’s a pleasing hoppiness and a slight malty aroma. All fairly modest, so far. And then, its big character, its complexity, its depth of flavour and refreshment emerge on the palate. A superb balance of malts and hops, the lengthy finish and a refreshment touched with a little bitterness spell satisfaction in capital letters. Ready to go again. Yes, please.

Here’s the official version: “After all, who can resist her seductive straw colour and pearly-white head? Her smooth, malty character with subtly balanced hops? Or her lingering fruitiness with subtle notes of vanilla?

Whatever your weakness, this premium Pilsner offers full-bodied, thirst-quenching refreshment from start to finish. With a slightly bitter aftertaste to keep you on your toes.”

Geek Bits

Malt: Pale Barley Malt & rice

Hops & Spices: Saaz-Saaz, Styrian Golding, Hallertau Magnum

Serve: 3 degrees

IBU 26. 


Tuesday, September 12, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #43. Craft with Wicklow Wolf, Galway Hooker, St Bernardus and Community Brew Project

CorkBillyBeers #43

Craft with Wicklow Wolf, Galway Hooker, St Bernardus and Community Brew Project.


Wicklow Wolf Eden Session IPA, 3.8% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

Deliciously juicy, easy-drinking dry-hopped ale

The colour is hazy orange with a soft white head. Aromas of resin and grapefruit. Citrus is also prominent in the juicy palate where there’s quite a tropical presence as well, and again there’s a hint of pine. Well-balanced though all through with the malts having their say and the freshness of the hops combining in a satisfactory finalé.

Deliciously juicy, this easy-drinking dry-hopped ale, carrying just 3.8% ABV,  is a banker for a session, another winner from the Wicklow Wolf.

Very Highly Recommended.


They introduced it in 2019, saying: “An easy drinking Session IPA brewed with a shed load of the freshest El Dorado, Sabro & Chinook hops….We are obsessed with hops. Deliciously juicy, Eden is dry-hopped to give an abundance of tropical and stone fruits with a hint of piney bitterness. The malt bill provides a creamy & well-rounded balance. Malts: Pale, Oats, Cara Blond, Cara Clair


Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale, 4.3% ABV, 500 ml bottle Centra Victoria Cross

Established in 2006, Galway Hooker produced the original Irish Pale Ale – now the most popular style of craft beer in the country.

And this bottle is indeed marked “the Original”. Colour is a mid-gold, a bit on the hazy side but that doesn't prevent you from seeing the bubbles rising up to the soft white head. Aromas are a mix of citrus and floral. It is crisp and zingy and the flavours are deep on the palate with both malts (Caramel) and hops (Cascade) getting an influential look-in. Quite a refreshing beer with a dry finish.

Perfect, they say, with barbecued meats, seafood and mature farmhouse cheeses. Very Highly Recommended.

Hooker tells us it is created in small batches to make the perfect balance of slowly developed malt and Hops flavours. “The result is a tangy flavour to savour with a light citrus aroma. It combines European and American hops with Irish malt to produce a truly unique blend of old world subtlety and new world taste.”

“Our ethos is to brew natural, full-flavoured, high quality and preservative-free beers. The results are beers that have received numerous awards, including Gold Medals at the Irish Food Awards and the World Beer Awards”.


St Bernardus Wit, 5.0% ABV, 330 ml can Bradleys

St.Bernardus Wit is a traditional unfiltered Belgian wheat beer produced in Watou. It was developed in collaboration with Pierre Celis, the legendary master brewer who was the driver of the resurgence of white beer in the 1960s.

It has a pale orange colour, quite hazy with a dense white head. The aromatics are quite complex though clove stands out for me. There follows a masterclass in balance in the mouth. The herbal notes (coriander), the spice (clove), the fruit (orange, lemon), the sweet malt and the creamy texture (from the wheat) all combine marvellously well with a superb result.

It is a very refreshing beer but quite versatile at the table (which almost goes without saying when you have a Belgian beer at hand). 

St Bernardus are enthusiastic: “This incredibly versatile beer can be paired with almost any recipe from anywhere in the world. Its most outstanding role is perhaps that of a refreshing contrast when served with creamy dishes - a risotto for example - or in combination with shellfish and white fish. Do you serve a slice of lemon with your fish? You can echo that or a lemon sauce or dressing with this beer with its strong hints of citrus.”


Community Brew Project Fragments Red IPA, 6.5% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

How does the Brew Project* work?

“It's pretty simple... It's up to you to tell us what you'd like to see brewed by each of the breweries! We'll narrow the ideas down to a shortlist, and then vote. The beers with the most votes get brewed. We have four brilliant breweries taking part in the project: Ballykilcavan, Dead Centre, Hope and Dot Brew.”

This Red IPA is brewed by Hope. And, yes, it is reddish, pretty murky, with a cream head that slowly sinks. Hops used (“liberally”) are Citra and Amarillo and you do get a bit of citrus fruit in both aromas and flavours.  Not a great balance though and we parted ways before the end.

* More details of the project on the Craic Beer Community platform here

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #26. Craft Beer Fruit and Nut. And Honey. With Galway Hooker, Clancy's Cans, Lough Gill and Bacchus

CorkBillyBeers #26

Craft Beer Fruit and Nut. And Honey. With Galway Hooker, Clancy's Cans, Lough Gill and Bacchus


Galway Hooker Honey Beer, 5.3% ABV, 500ml bottle

This Galway Hooker Honey Beer comes in an amber colour with a slightly off-white head, a soft one. The aromas are more like those of a lager, grassy and floral and just a little hint of honey. The honey does come in a wee bit stronger on the palate, adding a little sweetness but nothing over the top. Well balanced overall and quite a crisp refreshing finish.

This unique beer is a collaboration between the brewery and locally based Leahy Beekeeping “to bring you a special taste of the West of Ireland.” And it certainly does.

By the way, the ABV is given as 4.1% on the website but it is 5.3% on the bottle. IBU is 25.

No matter the figures, this is an excellent beer and is Very Highly Recommended. Indeed, I think you may like it whether you like honey or not! And a big thank you to Dermott of the Pantry and Corkscrew Restaurant in Westport for introducing me to this one!


"Both lagers and ales can be brewed with honey. Some brewers will choose to experiment with ingredients, while others will add honey to traditional styles. Overall the character of honey should be evident but not totally overwhelming. A wide variety of honey beers are available. U.S. brewers may add honey to the boil kettle (as a sugar source) or post-boil (to preserve more volatile aromatics)."


Clancy's Cans #11 Maple & Pecan Brown Ale, 7.5% ABV, 440ml can CraftCentral

Surprise, surprise. This brown ale pours into the glass and it is brown, though you might see the odd “flash” of ruby. The head is a bubbly one with a tan shade. A mild chocolate, mild caramel too and a toasty touch feature in the initial aromatics and get stronger on the palate along with a fleeting in and out sweet input from the roasted pecans (not so much from the syrup). Quite complex and long-lasting on the finish. That fresh sweet-sour taste is, the producers say, typical for this type of beer.

And you come across that too in Ballykilcavan's highly regarded Bambrick's Brown Ale. This is, after all, the Export strength version of Bambrick’s. 

Highly Recommended.

Oddly enough, I’ve scoured the Ballykilcavan site for a mention of Clancy’s Cans but nary a sign. Why? I wonder. The label comes to the rescue with some info: “a limited edition series of cans.  We’ve called them Clancy’s Cans, in recognition of the five generations of the Clancy family who have worked and continue to work on the farm."

The label sums it up: “Dark chocolate and burnt toffee meets sweet nutty sweetness.” And advises to enjoy it between 7 and 11 degrees.

Yes, Maple essence and Pecans are included in the ingredients list.

It has much the same ABV as Old Brown, a dark beer from Mayo’s Mescan with a mild sourness, of the type that has been brewed in West Flanders since the 17th century. Enjoyed one of those a month or so back in that superb Westport restaurant The Pantry and Corkscrew. The Mescan, which is matured in oak barrels for more than two years, is somewhat ahead of this one.


Lough Gill Macadamia Nut Brown Ale, 5.5%, 440ml can Bradleys

Lough Gill emphasise that “This Brown Ale is brewed with real Macadamia nuts, roasted in our own kitchen, along with top quality malts and hops for a rich nutty flavour and luxurious dark brown colour.”

It has been around for a while and is definitely a favourite here. Colour is a rich dark brown with hints of red leaking through occasionally. Aromas are from the roasted nuts, mostly. And lead to a decadent sweet and roasty flavour on the luxurious palate and note that outstandingly smooth texture. No need to change my opinion on this one, a winner every single time.

Very Highly Recommended.

Attention to detail has paid off for Lough Gill. “Things were getting a bit squirrely over here; it must be the trays upon trays of macadamia nuts we hand-roasted for this beer. Some would say we’ve gone nuts – but taking our time over each and every step is part of what makes every one of our craft brews unique.”


Bacchus Kriekenbier (Cherry Beer), 5.8% ABV, 330 ml can Bradleys

Looking for a refreshing fruit beer? This is one.

Cheery cherry beers are quite the thing in Belgium. This one comes in a dark robe but there’s a red glow off it. The off-white head doesn’t stay around for long. No mistaking the cherries in the aromas or on the palate either. In the mouth though there is quite a bit of tart acidity which results in a sweet and sour taste. Quite a thirst quencher! Serve at about 5 degrees.

The name tells you this is a beer with cherries. And the ingredients list names cherry juice, cherries, and cherry flavour.

They say: The basis for this surprising cherry beer is Bacchus Vlaams Oud Bruin (Bacchus Flemish Old Brown). During the brewing process, the brewer adds roasted malts to this Flemish red-brown beer. By the way, we enjoyed a bottle of that Old Brown recently 

Some Other Belgian Krieks:




Kriek De Ranke;

Cantillon Kriek;

Mort Subite Kriek;

Floris Kriek;

Boon Kriek

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #14. Craft with super lagers by Whitefield, 9 White Deer, Galway Hooker, and Schlenkerla

CorkBillyBeers #14

Craft journey with super lagers by Whitefield, 9 White Deer, Galway Hooker, and Schlenkerla

Lager is the most popular beer in the world and there are quite a few variations. See bottom for brief details of German styles. There are more, especially in Czechia and Austria. We have a few styles here including Vienna, a German Rauchbier and also an organic Pilsner from Galway Hooker. All in all, these four make for a very enjoyable session!


Galway Hooker Organic Pilsner 4.1% ABV, 440ml can CraftCentral

“One of Ireland’s first organic beers, this is a light and refreshing lager with a crisp dry finish.”

Lets see! It comes in a clear gold colour, quite a head, white and foamy.  A slight hint of sweetness in the aromas and yes light and very refreshing indeed in the mouth followed by a snappy and satisfying finalé. You can taste why this smooth Pilsner, crafted from organic ingredients, inspired by their “ commitment to sustainability and artisan methods” is now one of their core beers. 

“Malt depth is often quite slight but can add complexity and a sweetness that enhances hop flavour,” declares author Mark Dredge, speaking of modern pilsner. Looks like Galway Hooker got it spot on here, even if the ABV and IBU are at the lower end of the respective scales. 

Lager is by far the most popular beer in the world; Pilsner is part of the family. Good to see more and more Irish brewers coming up with excellent examples though organic efforts are very rare. I know Denmark’s ToOl do one but can’t think of another Irish one.

Hooker talk the talk and walk the walk. “For every pint of Galway Hooker Organic Pilsner we pour we will make a donation to Hometree to offset the ecological impact of its production."

They use locally sourced water from the west of Ireland which contains an ideal balance of minerals for brewing. “All of our water passes through an activated carbon filter to ensure the purest quality and flavours in our beers.”

"The whole purpose of the brewing process is to make a food source for yeast to grow on. One of the by-products of this growth is alcohol. Because yeast is a living microorganism, it keeps regenerating itself every time we make a batch of beer. This means that we can harvest the yeast from one batch of beer and reuse it for the next batch. We have a special tank to store the yeast between batches.”

Check out their story here 

Very Highly Recommended.


Whitefield Jockey Hall Vienna Lager, 5.4% ABV, 500 ml bottle No. 21

Whitefield are well known for their European style beers, including lagers, and this Jockey Hall, with its smooth body and crisp finish, is one of them.

It also has the usual Vienna Lager amber colour, with a white head that sits around for a spell. The Vienna Malt, which accounts for the colour,  brings out a complex toastiness in the flavour and gentle hop character with a low fermentation temperature ensure a good crisp finish. Be ready to lick your lips after each sip. And there is no need to gulp, sips are fine thanks to the delicious flavours of this expertly crafted lager.

Very Highly Recommended.

In the summer of 1993, Cuilan Loughnane had a “road to Damascus" moment while sitting in one of Heathrow’s pubs one glorious summer's evening on a 4-hour stopover en-route to Vancouver: “I witnessed a bar maid performing a very unusual looking ritual, while trying to pour a beer into a glass. I witnessed it again 10 minutes later and again and again.

She was pulling a white ceramic lever with her left hand with what looked like a considerable amount of effort. As the lever arced downwards her entire upper body arched inwards towards the counter. In her right hand was a pint glass, which she was holding under a swan necked spout that was below the white lever. Into the glass was flowing some form of beer, strange looking stuff.”

His own curiosity led the young man to start asking questions, his first steps to becoming a craft brewer. More of the story of Whitefield (and Dwans and White Gypsy before that) here in a recent post.


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

Ballyvourney brewery 9 White Deer presents this, their Kolsch style lager beer, with a bright and clear yellow/amber colour and white head. With its high carbonation level and gentle hop character, it is palate friendly with an almost creamy feel. Easy to quaff and easy to see how this refreshing beer has become one of their biggest selling beers.

Its reputation quickly grew from the brewery’s early days, thanks to the local water and guidance from a famous German brewmaster.  Soft is the operative word here as the water, from the Cork and Kerry mountains, is really soft, just perfect for lager style beers. 

And the guidance they got from Roland, then brewmaster of the well known Munich brewery Augustiner and still a friend of the Ballyvourney brewery, could not have been bettered. Kolsch and 9 White Deer were on their way, on their way to stay.

They are very happy with it: It has a gentle hop and malt character, a classic German style of beer brewed with German Noble Hops, Premium Irish and German Malt and German Yeast. Stag Kolsch gets an extended lagering time where it can develop and mature into this classic premium European style beer.

As a bonus, like all their beers, this is gluten free.

Very Highly Recommended.

Recent feature on 9 White Deer here


Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock, 6.5% ABV, 500 ml bottle Bradleys

“Liquid bacon fries.”

Bamburg is the home of smoked beer (Rauchbiers) and a pilgrimage for the style’s aficionados. Some of our Irish craft brewers have been to the German town and Kinnegar, Whiplash and Crew have made examples of the style. Limerick’s Crew described the “weird and wonderful” Bamburg drinks as liquid bacon fries.

And liquid bacon fries is quite close to summing up the aromas, even the palate, from this unusual lager. Colour is dark, not quite solid black (more like Coco Cola) and the head is tan. Aside from the bacon, there is smoke on the palate too but the malt, plus an acidity that cuts through, prevent the smoke element from dominating. Flavours of coffee and toffee on the smokey finish. Definitely on the maltier side, but it isn't sweet at all.

October to December is bockbeer time in Bamberg and at the Schlenkerla brewery. According to old tradition, as early as May the Original Schlenkerla Smokebeer - Urbock is being brewed. After the brew in classic copper kettles, it matures for months in the historic cellars underneath Stephansberg. Those are part of the tunnel system of Bamberg, which is more than 700 years old. As the temperature there is constantly at around 8°C they have been used by Bamberg brewers for centuries to mature and lager their beers. The Ur in Urbock, means fresh (as us Irish speakers well know!). Bock means various things: a goat, lust, or in our case a dark beer (lager).

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”.

Geeks Bits

Original gravity: 17.5 °p

Alcohol: 6.5%

Bitterness: 40

Ingredients: Water, barley malt, hops


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 Oktoberfest with the schnitzel, brockwurst and game.

Kolsch comes from the German city of Cologne (Köln). It is a light and refreshing ale-lager hybrid, hybrid because its producers employ elements and techniques of both lager and ale.  It is made with an ale yeast and cold finished like a lager.


Helles can be easily found iMunich, 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 and Kinnegar have have each made excellent Black lagers.

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