Showing posts with label Killarney Brewing & Distilling Company. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Killarney Brewing & Distilling Company. Show all posts

Thursday, June 13, 2024

On the craft trail with two Kerry beers and a Kilkenny cider. West Kerry Brewery, Killarney Brewing and Highbank Orchards

On the craft trail with two Kerry beers and a Kilkenny cider. West Kerry, Killarney Brewing and Highbank Orchards


West Kerry Blue Rose Ale 5.1% ABV, 500 ml bottle Bradleys

West Kerry threw out their rule book and this beautiful traditional ale is the result.

Colour is a light hazy gold with zillions of microbubbles crowding towards the soft white top. That dry hopping, an extra touch, is immediately noticeable in the aromas and on the palate. It has a pleasant, flowery, spicy, citrus-like quality with a slight grapefruit characteristic which is what you’d expect from the Cascade hops used.

Medium-bodied, it is refreshing with somewhat more bitterness than you'd normally get from a pale ale. Cascade can be used to make any ales, and “is characteristic of American pale ales, such as the classic Sierra Nevada”. An excellent ale and Highly Recommended but, for me, not quite as exquisite as their original Béal Bán Golden Ale.

The Gaeltacht brewers explain how the Renegade Series came about. “The genesis of this series came with the idea to throw out our own rule book – the rules being with the emphasis on the barley, malted and un-malted. With nothing more satisfying than breaking a few rules we thought to experiment with dry hopping. This is a process of adding a ‘tea’ of fresh hops to the conditioning tank and bringing more of their flavours to the beers.”

Dry hopped with American Cascade, this hand crafted traditional ale became their first in the Renegade Series. After the Blue Rose Irish Pale Ale, they followed up with an Antipodean IPA and a Festive IBA (Irish Black Ale).

All their beers are brewed with the same yeast, which is a little unusual. Breweries normally match the style of beers to different yeast types, but “we like to do it the other way around, and we design the recipe for each of our beers ourselves. But what we like to think makes our beers even more special is our water, which is full of lime and as luck would have it, ale yeast loves limey water, ensuring our beers are flavoursome, and feel round and soft in the mouth”.

Pic via HIghbank.

Highbank Organic Medieval Cider, 2019, 500 ml bottle, 6.0% ABV, Ballymaloe Food Festival

Colour is close to orange, close to amber. Aromas hint at the sweetness to come on the palate and that may not be to everyone’s taste. The blend of their Organic Cider with Organic Honey has come off well and, for me, a balance emerges, tannins providing an astringent touch before the long finish. Should be a good cider with food and Highbank recommends meat courses and particularly spiced food (see recipe below).

This traditional honeyed cider, fermented on Highbank’s own natural organic yeasts, is gluten-free with, no added sulphites.

Highbank Medieval Cider is named in honour of their medieval home towns of Callan and Kilkenny and that honey and cider were famously popular in medieval times in the fertile hinterland of County Kilkenny, drawing visitors from afar.

Recipe for Pork Brined in Rum and Cider with Apples 

Killarney Scarlet Pimpernel IPA 6.0% ABV, 500 ml bottle at the brewery shop.

The most striking aspect of this beer, at least visually, is the deep red colour.

And red also comes into the beer’s name. There is a statue of a priest, dressed in an old-fashioned clerical manner, at an entrance to Killarney National Park. He is striding out, a man in a hurry. They seek him here, they seek him there - he is O’Flaherty, the Scarlet Pimpernel. This IPA is named in his honour.

In the same way, as O’Flaherty broke barriers, so too has Killarney Brewing busted tradition with this red colour. The IPA is built “on a smooth malty base”. Aromas are moderate, citrus and pine. There’s a light caramel sweetness on the palate. Overall, a good balance is found, hop bitterness is moderate, and they boldly recommend it as “a perfect partner for full-flavoured dishes”. I know Killarney say this is an American-style IPA but it also has similarities to a red ale.

During WW2, Rome-based Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty saved over 6,500 people by hiding them in monasteries, farms, and other locations. After the war, he was awarded the US Medal of Freedom and Commander of the British Empire.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Have you tried the Spailpín Saison? On the craft trail with Killarney Brewing and Wicklow Wolf

On the craft trail with Killarney Brewing and Wicklow Wolf

Have you tried the Spailpín Saison?

Killarney Spailpín Saison 6.0% ABV, 750 ml bottle at the brewery

When you pour the Spailpín Saison (from its large bottle!), you will notice an abundance of tiny bubbles rising through the golden amber liquid and the soft white head. The aroma is mostly floral, with a light wheat note and a hint of spice. Refreshing and easy to drink, it is one of the better Irish saisons. Very Highly Recommended.

I wouldn't mind comparing it, head-to-head, with the

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Killarney Bourbon Barrel Aged Export Stout. A Very Highly Recommended Special and Beer of the Week.

Killarney Bourbon Barrel Aged Export Stout 

8.1% ABV, 750 ml bottle at the brewery

A Very Highly Recommended Special From Killarney

I was staying close to the Killarney Distillery and Brewery in Fossa recently and called in to get myself a few bottles of their superb Casey Brothers stout only to find out they don’t bottle it all. Disappointed at that (because it is one of my favourite stouts) but there was major consolation at hand in their large bottled special, this Barrel Ahed Export Stout, my latest Beer of the Week.

Deep black is the colour under a creamy coffee-coloured head. Aromas are mostly coffee and chocolate. But the big attention grabber is on the palate where the rather gentle punch is delivered, very smoothly indeed. Here the enhancement of the stout from its time in the bourbon barrel is pleasantly apparent. The roast of the malts and the contribution of the East Kent Goldings and Ariana hops plus the characters infused by the barrel, all come together in delicious harmony in a stout that is well worth buying.

I’m not too sure how many bottles of this Very Highly Recommended beer are still available; it was of course a limited edition but there didn’t seem to be a shortage when I purchased mine at the Brewery in mid-April (2024).

Produced in “Ireland’s largest independently owned and co-located distillery, brewery and visitor experience”, the process saw them first brew a small batch of imperial stout to have its flavours enhanced by spending 6 months maturing in Bourbon barrels under the care of Master Brewer Michael Bank and Master Distiller Kerr Petrie. Afterwards, the whiskey was transferred back into these casks to take on the flavours of the stout. That means a delightful bonus for both beer and whiskey drinkers.

Corkman Kerr’s journey began as an engineer, before he eventually moved into distilling, gaining experience initially in Scotland and more recently in Irish Distillers in Midleton before his thirst for new challenges drove him westward to Killarney.

Master Brewer Mike hails from the United States, where he has gained extensive experience working at Long Trail Brewing in Vermont, Ithaca Beer Company in New York, and Oyster Bay Brewing in Long Island.

As a respected member of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and the Master Brewers Association of the Americas, Mike has received numerous accolades. And already in Killarney, his beers have gained recognition such as gold for their Rutting Red Ale at the Brussels Beer Challenge and grand gold for the Spailpín Saison at the Frankfurt International Trophy.

This Export Stout is part of their 1092 Series, the series title is a link to the year when the local Annals of Innisfallen are believed to have been compiled. They, chapter by chapter, captured the story of progress through time and history. Killarney Brewery and Distillery hope to make their own bit of history year by year. Watch out for more of these specials.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Three Days in the Kingdom. Food Diary

Three Days in the Kingdom. Food Diary 

Day 1

Smoked Haddock Beignets with Crab Mayonnaise and Pickled Cucumber at Nua Vista 

Beautiful ware by Ross Kenmare

We had three days or so to check out the eating and drinking scene in the Kingdom. Well, more like in Killarney and Kenmare. It would take much more than three days to sample the full county!

Headed off from Cork for Kenmare on a good enough day. The "new" driver made

Monday, March 25, 2024

Recommended Craft Ales from Killarney Brewing, Hopfully and Wicklow Wolf

Recommended Craft Ales from Killarney Brewing, Hopfully and Wicklow Wolf 

Killarney Full Circle IPA, 5% ABV, 500 ml bottle, O’Donovan’s

The colour is close to amber, a little darker than you might expect. All American hops are used here and the aromas make that clear from the moment you flip the cap. 

The soft head collapses soon enough onto the slightly hazy body. The hops are not identified on the label but the ensemble brings quite a current of deep flavour with dry bitterness (IBU is 42) clearly displayed at the finalé. Easy to see why it is now part of their core range. No pairings seen but I found it very compatible with a mature cheddar.

Highly Recommended.

Full Circle? “Emigration has forever been at the heart of Irish history.  From the mid 1800’s onwards, generations left these shores destined for the land of opportunity.  Over a century on, life’s journey has come full circle and their progeny are returning home.  This is a story illustrated by our Head Brewer Mike, who with his wife and daughter, have brought back to Kerry this USA branch of their family tree.”

The big news though is that tours are now possible at the impressive new facility (brewery and distillery) out in Fossa. “The team are working hard .… As Tim O’D, one of our founders, would say, we haven’t been drinking a lot of beer, just a lot of coffee!’

The new building includes salvaged red brick imported directly from the Windy City of Chicago. If they could talk, no doubt an Irish accent could be heard in the original laying. They now take pride of place in the main stairwell of the new visitor centre.

Plan your visit and tour to Killarney Brewing & Distilling Co in Fossa, Ireland’s largest co-located and independently owned Brewery, Distillery and Visitor Centre. Visit the new brewery, learn how the beers are made, see the brewing team making the magic happen, enjoy the aromas of the day’s brew and finally visit the tasting room to sample the product. 

For groups of 10 or more please contact Otherwise, book here.  

The original and very popular Taproom on Muckross Road, quite close to the town centre, operates on a walk-in basis, Wednesday through Sunday, 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

Wicklow Wolf Sugarloaf Juicy IPA, 4.3% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

Wicklow Wolf commandeered a heavy-hitting quartet of tropical hops for their Sugarloaf (you’ll know where the name comes from). The tropical notes and flavours dominate though you’ll also notice citrus and pine in there. 

The colour of their new core beer is a hazy yellow and there’s a creamy mouthfeel, with a barely noticeable bitterness. But it is well-balanced and the tropical fruits are nicely rounded. Still, this is one for you if you’re a fruit head! Another well-made beer from the Wicklow aces and definitely one for your shortlist.

The relatively low ABV of 4.3% certainly puts this it into the Session category where it sits as an outstanding example. Highly Recommended.

Geek Bits

Hops - Idaho 7, Chinook, Sabro and Citra.

Malts - Pale, Wheat Malt, Oats, Cara Ruby

Hopfully Inside Out Pale Ale, 5.0% ABV, 440 ml can Bradley

In its early days, Hopfully was known as a gipsy or contract brewery, making beers wherever they were welcome to borrow an established brewery’s kit. Metalman in Waterford was one such “host” and nowadays, with the Deise brewers retired, you’ll find Hopfully fully at home in that very brewery.

Hopfully has been more than generous with the amounts of Mosaic and Strata hops used in the pale ale and they are very happy with the results: ”lovely notes of bright juicy tangerine, citrus, and pine aromas”.

It is a hazy yellow colour with the expected aromas. Mosaic was used in the whirlpool while the two hops were combined for the dry hopping. For all that, the bitterness level is modest and this smooth fruity beer proves an easy drinker.

It is an honest straightforward Pale Ale deserving of your attention. Highly Recommended.

Geek Bits

Hops - Mosaic & Strata.

Malts - Maris Otter, Flaked Oats, Wheat, Vienna & Dextrin

Art work - by Stasele Jakunskaite’

Thursday, August 31, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #41. Craft Journey with Red Ales by McGill's, Wicklow Wolf and Killarney Brewing

CorkBillyBeers #41

Craft Journey with Red Ales by McGill's, Wicklow Wolf and Killarney Brewing.


Is Red Ale really an Irish style? In the 1970s, famous beer writer Michael Jackson was 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”. 

Wikipedia says Irish red ale, also known as red ale or Irish ale, is a style of pale ale that is brewed using a moderate amount of kilned malts and roasted barley that gives the beer its red colour.


McGill’s Maude Delap Irish Red Ale 5.0% ABV, 500ml bottle Centra Waterville

Red is the colour, for sure, of McGill’s Maude Delap Irish Red Ale, red with a soft tan head. After that, it is mostly about the lovely caramel flavours, just about perfect, neither too strong nor too weak. Nice job, Mr McGill!

Very Highly Recommended.

This traditional Irish Red Ale is named in honour of Maude Delap. Originally from Donegal, Maude came to live on Valentia Island (until her death in 1953). A self-taught marine biologist, she was known for being the first person to breed jellyfish in captivity and thus observed their full life cycle for the first time. She was also involved in an extensive study of plankton from the coasts of the island. More on Maude here .


Wicklow Wolf Wildfire Hoppy Red Ale, 4.6% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

“Not your typical red – Wildfire is a modern hoppy red ale.” That’s the claim from brewers Wicklow Wolf.

Appearances seem to be in the classic mould, fairly deep red body and an off-white head. 

Malt plus a sniff of coffee and caramel in the aromatics and the same combo, with a stronger showing from the coffee, on the palate. Here too, the Sorachi Ace hops also figure, rather mildly though. A creamy, herbal finish with hints of malty sweetness. Not quite traditional then. Not sure though that it is an improvement on the old style. Perhaps a summer rather than a winter red.

Indeed, “mild” is perhaps the most apt descriptor, though not in a pejorative manner. Touted as a modern red ale, I’m well pleased with it (nothing to do with its modernity or otherwise) and would love to try it in a direct joust with other reds like Roaring Ruby (from West Cork Brewing), Kinnegar’s Devil’s Backbone, Copper Coast (from Dungarvan Brewing), Sullivan’s Maltings, White Gypsy’s Ruby Red, Costello’s Red Ale and more (including Velvet Red by the Cotton Ball and the others in this post). Could be a long session. And I’d need food as well!

Highly Recommended

Geek Bits

IBUs 28

Hops: Sorachi Ace

Malts: Pale, Cara Ruby, Melano, Oats, Roasted, Crystal Rye

The Wicklow Wolf craft brewery was co-founded by Quincey Fennelly and Simon Lynch in 2014. The location then was in Bray. Now, in the new facility, near NewtownmountKennedy, there is a team of five brewers working under two ex Brewdog employees, John the production manager, and head brewer Andrew. The total number employed is 27. More on our recent visit here.


Killarney Rutting Irish Red Ale, 4.5% ABV, 440ml can, Carry Out Killarney

This Irish Red Ale from Kerry ”pays homage to Ireland’s last herd of native red deer. Each autumn, during a ritual known as The Rut their clashing antlers and bellowing roars echo through the majestic amphitheatre that is the Killarney National Park” say the producers. One such spectacular duel, at the waters’ edge, was brilliantly captured by the David Attenborough series Wild Isles and shown a few months back on the BBC.

The beer, based on the traditional Golding’s hops, has a ruby hued colour, and aromas of caramel and toffee. And that malty combo continues on to the palate, pleasing, lively and refreshing. Should be good with food, as most red ales are. 

The website says that “discerning beer drinkers will appreciate Rutting Red’s rugged flavour which values the intensity of our wild stags.” I can understand the writer’s enthusiasm but rugged is not a word I’d associate with this pretty fine and well-made beer. I’d be thinking more of the friendly red setter (supple, restrained and eager to please) like the dog that greets guests in Kerry’s Sneem Hotel.

Highly Recommended.


Thursday, May 4, 2023

Dinner for Billy👑 and Clare👑 at the Royal Hotel Valentia

 Dinner for Billy👑 and Clare👑

at the Royal Hotel Valentia

Since 1833, then known as the Valentia Hotel, the island’s hotel has been welcoming and extending hospitality to guests. It later became known as Young's Hotel and it wasn't until after a visit from Prince Arthur (the son of Queen Victoria) in 1869 that it took the name ‘Royal'.

No royalty there in the closing days of April 2023 when we visited for dinner. We were staying nearby but the hotel could well have been our base. It is so convenient, just yards from where the car ferry from Cahersiveen lands, and is the gateway to the island and its many attractions: its scenic walks, the ancient Tetrapod Trackway, the historic slate quarry and the lighthouse (where you may visit). The Royal even offers a package for Kerry’s Internationally Recognised Dark Sky Reserve.

It has recently renovated 33 rooms. It can cater for any social event from weddings to a hearty lunch for two. We were there for dinner for two and were treated quite royally, like every other customer. They have a very friendly and efficient staff here in the large restaurant that looks right out onto the water, so near that a Great Black-backed Gull popped up on our window sill to have a look at my plate, I think he was a regular! 

So what did we have? The menu is along the usual lines that you see in Kerry (and many other Irish) pubs and sometimes you have to look at the specials list to get away from the Seafood Chowder, Chicken Wings, Fish and Chips and Burgers that populate these offerings. Not that there is anything wrong with them, as we were to find out. 

Goats cheese starter

I had an excellent Chowder (Mixed smoked fish and white fish with vegetables in a velouté sauce served with soda bread) here, as I did in The Lobster in Waterville.

CL picked the Goats Cheese Bruschetta with Red Currant Jelly (topped with onion chutney & served with fresh mixed salad). She was delighted with it, reckoning that it was well ahead of a similar dish in The Lobster.

In addition to the regular dishes, they also have a Kids Menu and offer a selection of pizzas, all handy if you are travelling with younger people.

Up to about ten years ago, it was almost impossible to get craft beer in Kerry. But, with at least five breweries in the county, all that has changed. Has it changed in the venerable Royal? Yes indeed it has and they know the difference between real craft and mass produced stuff. The server unhesitatingly says she has Killarney Blond on tap and we, unhesitatingly, say yes we’ll have one each. It was just after they arrived on the table that the gull popped up, so perhaps he just wanted a drink!

Back to the food and my  Crispy Battered Scampi (Prawns in homemade beer batter, served with homemade potato wedges with side salad and tartar sauce) had just arrived. Don’t know when I last had them but they certainly went down well even if I got fries rather than wedges. Nicely cooked, good quality and no lack of quantity either.

Clock Tower
We were totally ignoring the specials here (they included a couple of roasts of the day, beef and pork) and CL decided to go for a burger, a rare occasion. She too got a massive plateful, Beef Burger with Bacon & Cheese (Hereford Irish ground beef patty in a toasted brioche bun - dressed with Marie Rose sauce, lettuce, tomato, onions, melted cheddar cheese & bacon. Served with homemade potato wedges, homemade onion rings & relish). Phew. A classy burger though, again fries rather than wedges, and she just about got through it!

No room at all for desserts after those packed plates but we did enjoy a second round of the Blonde before strolling back to the B&B to take a look at the sun (which had only just made its first appearance of the day, a brief one) as it set beyond the lighthouse, the whole scene visible from our balcony. That was the special of the day!

Also on this trip:

The Lobster Waterville

Skellig Experience Centre - The Monks Dinner

McGill Brewery*

Royal Hotel, Knightstown

A Right Royal Progress Through The Kingdom

* Post to follow

Recent Kerry posts

Killarney's lovely Victoria Hotel

Dinner at The Ivy in Killarney

Dining at The Harrow Killarney

Excellent Lunch at Brehon Hotel

Seeing Red at the lovely Sneem Hotel

Lunch at Killarney Brewery & Distillery in Fossa.

Dingle Drive, Slea Head and more