Showing posts with label Hope. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hope. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #49. Craft with Hope, Western Herd and Dungarvan Brewing

CorkBillyBeers #49

Craft with Hope, Western Herd and Dungarvan Brewing


Hope Pass If You Can Pale Ale, 4.6% ABV, 440 ml can Dunnes Stores

A great all-rounder

A classic Pale Ale in the American style, synonymous with the current worldwide craft beer explosion since the 1980s. It is an easy-drinking beer, with a clear hop character, but not as hoppy or indeed as bitter as an IPA.

That’s the brewery’s summing up of their Pass Oif YouCan Pale Ale.

It has a lovely gold colour, a hazy one but not enough to hide the fountains of bubbles rising towards the big soft white head. The fruity character of the hops comes through in the aromas. And also on the palate. Not overly fruity mind you nor overly bitter either. The well-judged harmony between the fruity hop flavours and the medley of Irish and European malts defines the beer.

Hope is quite happy with it. “An easy drinking malty and slightly fruity pale ale with a subtle hop kick. A great all-rounder that combines well with most main dishes, such as chicken or prawns, BBQs and pizza.”

I’m also very happy with it. Very Highly Recommended.

The Ale is named after Michael Collier, a notorious 19th-century highwayman who was North County Dublin’s answer to Robin Hood. He was so successful that his townland was dubbed Passifyoucan. Finally arrested in 1807 in his favourite haunt The Cock, he was transported and returned home only to die of cholera! Still, the name remains.

Geek Bits

Hops: Magnum, Mosaic, Citra,

Yeast: US-05

Malts: Pale Ale, CaraHell, Munich, Acidulated.

Core Range: Yes

Bought 20.09.23.

BBD 27.10.23


Western Herd Islander Session IPA 4.2% ABV, 440 ml can No 21 Midleton

“Inspired by the hazy, juicy beers made famous by Vermont brewers, this is Islander. Embrace the haze.”

That’s the intro to this session beer by Count Clare brewery Western Herd, which stands on a picturesque hilltop farm in a converted shed built over 80 years ago by “our great-grandfather”. The grandchildren, siblings Michael Eustace and Maeve Sheridan, founded the brewery and it was then “found” in 2018 by Montana-born Bridger Kelleher and he “kept turning up” and eventually took over as brewer.

The Islander has a hazy light orange colour with a fluffy white head that stays around for a spell. Aromas are mild, tropical and ripe. On the palate, the beer is soft with citrus and melon showing. The producers indicate that the intention is “to provide a hop burst of flavour that is easy to drink and won’t weigh you down”. Reckon they have succeeded here.

Highly Recommended. The Best Before date had not expired here but there were just a few days to go. 

Geek Bits

Session IPA

Golden, hazy, juicy

Amarillo, Citra, Simcoe

Pale, Stout Mix, Malted Oats, Flaked Oats, White Wheat, Torrified Wheat, CaraPils


Original Gravity



Hope Handsome Jack IPA, 6.6% ABV, 440 ml can Dunnes Stores

Citrusy - malty - bitter. A full-flavoured citrusy and double dry hopped IPA. Great with burgers and pizza.

That’s the brief intro to Handsome Jack by brewers Hope.

This golden beer, with a soft white head, is a little on the hazy side. There’s a supple hint of orange in the aromas but the sweet malt is also holding its own here. And that duel continues on the palate with juicy citrus coming to a duet that also involves the sweetness of the Irish Pale malt. In the end, it's all square between the bitterness of the hops and the mildness of the malt. No losers here of course and the punters are the winners with another excellent beer from Hope who indicates that it pairs well with burgers and roast meat, pizza, Indian dishes, strong, salty cheese and carrot cake.


And who was Handsome Jack? Jack Criss, the 17th-century Irish pirate, was tall and handsome with blonde hair and eyes as green as the sea. He set sail from Ireland, plundering his way to Spain and Italy. He didn’t die in battle but someone got cross with Criss and stabbed him to death in a Naples hotel. Probably one of his four wives. Some bachelor!

Highly Recommended. The beer that is, not the pirate!

Geek Bits

Hops: Magnum, Cascade, Sorachi Ace, Simcoe, Citra

Yeast: American Ale

Malts: Minch Hook Head Ale, Weyermann CaraMunich II, Weyermann CaraPils, Weyermann Acidulated

EBU 49

Bought 20.09.23.

BBD 25.04.24

Core Range: Yes


Dungarvan Mahon Falls Rye Pale Ale, 5.1% ABV, 440 ml can No 21 Midleton

Dungarvan is a family-run independent microbrewery in Dungarvan with over a decade of brewing experience and this is one of their regular seasonal beers, appearing annually in the springtime.

The colour is a murky orange/red with a soft white head that hangs about a bit. Aromas are a bit on the punchy side, with the rye leading the attack, the hops bringing the fruit posse onto the palate before a moderately bitter finish with the spicy rye always a player in the background though it is more hoppy bitter overall than malty sweet.

Highly Recommended. Not bad for a beer that was disappointingly almost six months past its Best Before date.

Food Pairings: This full-flavoured punchy fruity ale works great with lighter-flavoured foods like chicken, pork and fish or even with salad dishes. The brewery also says that the fruitiness of this Mahon Falls works really well with the tang of a Wensleydale or Caerphilly-style cheese. Try Knockdrinna‘s Laviston or The Little Milk Company‘s Brewer’s Gold.

Geek Bits

Style: Rye Pale Ale

ABV: 5.1%

Malts: Malted Rye (Pale, Cara)

Hops: Galaxy, Summit, Ella

IBUs: 50

Allergens: Contains barley.

Calories: 230 per 500ml

Serve: 8-12°C

Friday, August 4, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #37 Stronger Craft Beers with Mescan and Hope

CorkBillyBeers #37 

Stronger Craft Beers with Mescan and Hope


Mescan Westport Extra, 8.5% ABV, 330 ml bottle

Mescan Westport Extra has an attractive golden colour with a white head and no shortage of bubbles rising. Spicy yeast notes and fruity esters are prominent. 

The first impression from the palate is sweet malt but soon the promised hop bitterness is confirmed and becomes even more pronounced as the first sip flows fully and gently across the mouth on the way to a long lingering finish. A superbly balanced beer, the high alcohol is smoothly controlled.

Very Highly Recommended. Exceptional.

A Belgian-style beer from Westport and well up there with the best of the Trappists. One of the best of the style and consistently one of the best brews in this country.

A lot of work and time goes into the production of this beauty. It takes almost a year from when it is brewed before this strong, well-carbonated golden ale will be ready for punters to sip and savour. 

Indeed, Mescan take their time with all their beers. Co-founder and brewer Cillian Ó Móráin: ”Our outstanding USP, which is genuinely unique to Mescan, is the long maturation process with a minimum of 3 months (up to 9 months with the stronger beers), between brewing and packaging. This unhurried process allows time for the flavours to develop, much like maturing a wine. These long conditioning times make the beers more expensive to produce but add greatly to the quality. The resulting depth and range of flavour make them particularly well suited to pairing with food."

“Enjoy with white meats or seafood,  and fruity, nutty desserts.” This robust beer is a real treat, and its warming alcohol is the perfect antidote to a bad weather day! Just musing on it there and am beginning to think this strong, dry, well-carbonated golden ale would be perfect with rabbit. Serving temperature: 3-6 °C 


Mescan Special Reserve Dark Beer, 8.4% ABV, 330 ml bottle

Colour of this Mescan Special Reserve is dark, not deep black, but a deep ruby with some flashes of red in its depths. The aromatics feature caramel, mostly. And the palate is a five-star show of fruitiness (dates, figs), the malt still in evidence as this Mayo star maintains its amazing experience right to the finalé.

The Mescan website says this is a robust beer and I’d be loath to disagree. For me, despite the high ABV, this is smooth and quite accessible and well worth seeking out. I took my own advice here, sip not gulp, and my "patience" was amply rewarded.

A complex beer yet the ingredients list is simple enough: Spring water, barley, wheat, hops, yeast. Very Highly Recommended.

This full-bodied beer pairs beautifully with stews and game. Surprisingly, it complements chillies and spicy dishes. Also delicious with chocolate desserts or cheese. Full Mescan food wheel here 


Mescan Westport Red Tripel, 8.0% ABV, 330 ml bottle

During a recent visit to Mescan, outside of Westport, they told us their well-known “secret”: ”Our outstanding USP*, which is genuinely unique to Mescan, is the long maturation process with a minimum of 3 months (up to 9 months with the stronger beers), between brewing and packaging. This unhurried process allows time for the flavours to develop, much like maturing a wine. These long conditioning times make the beers more expensive to produce but add significantly to the quality. The resulting depth and range of flavour make them particularly well suited to pairing with food."


"During our long conditioning process, the yeast settles out naturally, with no need to use finings for clarifying, and making the beers suitable for vegans. Simple, natural ingredients are used to create Mescan beers: spring water, barley, wheat, hops, yeast, spices and nothing else. Our beers are almost exclusively brewed in Belgian styles."

Red is the colour, of course. There’s not that much of a head but it does hang about a bit. Aromas are malty, fruity, nutty. It is smooth and complex on the palate and you know, if you didn’t already, that this is one to sip and savour. To gulp would be greedy, barbaric, showing a lack of respect for the maestros of Mescan.

So, tóg go bog é (take it easy) and enjoy the remarkable nutty and caramel flavours, the warming beer, its malty and fruity qualities, its complex and full-bodied experience on the palate and let it slowly take you to a rewarding finalé.

Very Highly Recommended.

They detail the route to perfection on their website. “This is our take on the strong beers pioneered by the Belgian Trappist monastery breweries. Tripels are strong, complex beers and are traditionally golden in colour. We decided to make ours red and the malts used to achieve this add even more complexity to the flavours on the palate.”


And a few more tips.

Serve 7-10 degrees.

See food pairing here 

Bottle conditioned in the Belgian style beer.

To enjoy the beer clear, store upright and pour into a glass, leaving the yeast sediment in bottle.

* USP - unique selling point.


Hope West Coast IPA 7.4% ABV, 440 ml can Carry Out Killarney

“A classic West Coast IPA, this beer is a nod to the iconic beer style that helped launch the craft beer revolution. It’s brewed with four of the classic “C” hops: Cascade (grapefruit. Floral, Pine), Columbus (Dank, Pepper, PungenT), Centennial  (Blossom, Orange, Resionous) and Chinook (Grapefruit, Pine, Spice). The use of these US hops provides the style-defining flavours of citrus, pine, and resin.”

Hope are obviously happy that they’ve cracked it here!

Hops are used liberally in the kettle and in dry hop additions, giving the beer a robust bitterness and an intense hop aroma and finish. The malt bill is relatively simple. It is designed to balance the bitterness, while also allowing the hop flavours to shine through. This limited edition beer is no. 30 in the series.

The colour is golden/amber with hoppy aromas, citrus, pine and floral amongst them. And the all-American hop line-up, owns the palate, pungent with citrus and pine and a hint of dankness, on the way to a very fine lip-smacking finish. Quite intense, start to finish, yet the relatively simple malt bill has done the business here and the expected bitterness is well balanced, making this quite a beer with barely a hint of the high ABV.

Very Highly Recommended. 

Geek Bits

Hops: Cascade, Columbus, Centennial, Chinook

IBU 75;

Food Pairing: Burger, Tacos, Pizza


Wednesday, August 2, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #36. Craft Lager with Torc, Hope, Third Barrel and Rothaus

CorkBillyBeers #36

Craft Lager with Torc, Hope, Third Barrel and Rothaus


Third Barrel Stop the Clocks Pilsner Lager, 4.8% ABV, 440ml can Bradleys

“Our take on a traditional pilsner. This clean crisp and refreshing lager is brewed with Irish Malt and hopped with a hefty dose of German Saaz.” That’s the intro from Third Barrel.

The colour is bright gold with a soft foamy white head, and lots of bubbles rising. Floral and citrus notes in the aromas. And it is crisp and clean on the creamy palate where the famous Saaz hops (a noble variety) give it mild pleasant hoppy notes of hay and herbal. Easy drinking and seriously refreshing. As Third Barrel themselves say: “Nothing says summer like a good glass of Pils in the sun.” And this Stop the Clocks says it as well as any lager and better than many.

Very Highly Recommended.

Saaz, with its distinctive and classic aroma, is well known for its use in middle European lagers. And it also has a long association with Stella Artois


Torc White Tail Kerry Lager 4.5% ABV, 500 ml bottle Carry Out Killarney

“Sure to suit all palates, our classic style smooth Lager is brewed using Irish Pale Ale Malt and speciality German Carapils Malt.” That’s the confident introduction to their White Tail Lager by the folks of Kerry’s Torc Brewing.

It has a lovely gold colour and fountains of rising bubbles, rising though a thin film of haziness (it is unfiltered). The aromatics are a little on the shy side, with light caramel and biscuity notes. And there’s a hint of caramel and sweet biscuit also as it hits the palate and immediately a cleansing tide of refreshment. Excellent balance here and a good dry finish.

Torc says it pairs beautifully with seafood, pasta, pizzas, curries, burgers and salads.

Highly Recommended

The lager is named after the White-Tailed Eagle which was reintroduced into the Killarney National Park in 2007, having become extinct in the late 19th century. Before going extinct this magnificent bird of prey called Killarney its home, and returning this species to Irish skies is a significant step in restoring our natural heritage.

Geek Bits

SRM: 3.1 • 

IBU: 13.5 •

ABV: 4.5%.
Style: Lager •

Released: 2022


Hope Munich Helles Limited Edition No 27 5.3% ABV, 440 ml can No 21 Coburg St

Enjoy it in the garden, or with salty pretzels and bratwurst. That’s the advice from Hope. Amber is the colour of their Munich Helles Lager, with a soft white head and bubbles by the zillion. 

Helles is one of Munich’s popular lagers (another is the darker Dunkel), bright and light with a crisp finish. Quite a crisp and refreshing finish here also, even though the body is richer than usual and there’s an almost creamy mouthfeel. 

The malts certainly have an edge and no surprise since Hope tells us that their Helles “holds back on hops and bitterness to allow the sweet and full bready flavours of malt take centre stage”. 

This Munich-style Helles Lager nonetheless has a noticeable hop presence from the traditional German Hallertau used in the kettle and the whirlpool, which lend this lager subtle herbal and floral aromas.

Although the balance falls slightly on the malty side, the rich body and full mouthfeel do not inhibit this beer's drinkability, and the finish is soft and crisp. Enjoy it in the garden, or with those salty pretzels and bratwurst. Should also pair well with salads, shrimp, or fish.

By the way, would you like to see how this lager is made? Hope would love to you to join them “for the best micro-brewery tour in Dublin! Our brewery tours take place in our state-of-the-art German brewery in North Dublin where all aspects of the brewing process will be covered on the tour and will take approximately 25 minutes. Then the really fun part! You’ll enjoy a beer tasting of our core range of craft beers while enjoying a great view of the brewery floor.” More details here 

Very Highly Recommended.

I had an interesting head-to-head between this Hope and the To Øl  45 Days Mexican (in bottle). The verdict is very much in favour of Hope, a clear winner over the Danish effort in flavour and finish.

Helles is just one of a long list of German lagers (with no shortage of variations).

Perhaps the best-known are:




Dortmunder Export Lager,




Munich Dunkel

And a few more, including Rauchbier (smoked).



Rothaus Märzen 5.6% ABV, 500ml bottle Bradleys

Traditionally brewed during the winter, Rothaus Märzen is a seasonal favourite now enjoyed all year round by German beer lovers. 

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 glowing gold body and the zillions of micro-bubbles in the ever-rising fountains. Herbal notes crowd the aromas, nothing too intense. The smooth body is more malt (rich and bready) while the German hops yield a modest bitterness. Still, this is quite a balanced soft-textured beer, supremely drinkable, with a very clean finish, and an enjoyable companion at either lunch or dinner. Or even better in a crowded noisy beer hall.

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 centuries.

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 survived the five months 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-coloured Festbier in the 1990 Oktoberfest. Yet many Oktoberfest beers are still technically Märzens.

As you possibly know, I go almost exclusively for Irish beer. But it is always good to see what else is out there and this Rothaus is a worthwhile detour. Another, according to Jeff Alworth in The Beer Bible, is the Paulaner Oktoberfest “that billows clouds of the stuff (fluffy heads!). “the beer itself is toasty, almost a little plummy, and sprinkled with palate-cleansing cedary hops.”

You can talk forever about malt and hops and ingredients but one that Aldworth highlights is called “rasa” a sense of celebration. “Marzens are infused with the spirit of festgoing….both the result and cause of merriment…drunk at a time when people are still hanging on to the relaxed mood of summer.” Hadn’t thought of that kind of ” ingredient”.