Showing posts with label No. 21. Show all posts
Showing posts with label No. 21. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #20. Craft Lager with Cotton Ball, Whitefield, Tom Crean and Obolon

CorkBillyBeers #20

Craft Lager with Cotton Ball, Whitefield, Tom Crean and Obolon


Cotton Ball Mayfield 5 Lager, 5% ABV, 500 ml bottle O’Donovan’s

This lager, from my local, has a mid-amber colour, fountains of little bubbles, white head slims down rapidly but then hangs around for a good spell. A modest touch of hops in the aromas, more of the malt though. The refreshment factor immediately appears on the smooth palate, spot on balance between the German hops and malts. Has more character going for it than many lagers, good mouthfeel too. A thirst cutting clean bitterness rounds off an excellent lager experience with the gorgeous malt still clinging to the lips. 

A beer for all seasons, they indicate, saying: This Pilsner Lager, like the Noble Northsider’s adventures, spans the Atlantic, brewed using 100% Irish malted barley, clean bittered with three U.S. grown hops followed by a late kettle addition of Noble Hops (Hallertau Perle and Hersbrucker). Pour is clean and refreshing with a subtle aromatic hop flavour arising from a bed of light caramel malt. The Classic brew to compliment party food. This inviting pilsner goes down smoothly with gourmet burgers, pizzas or wings. A perfect hit at BBQs a great choice for alfresco dining.

And the Northsider they refer to on the label is Humphrey Lynch, who left Ballyvourney (now the home of 9 White Deer) at 15 years of age and settled in an American town known as Byefield which he later used in naming his Cork estate house. After working for two years with Joseph Longfellow, cousin to the famous poet, he worked for a year in the ship yard at Newburyport until the American civil war in which he fought in a string of “engagements”. He returned to his native Cork in 1874 and set up in Mayfield, calling his newly-purchased public house The Cotton Ball. And the Lynch family are still here today, the brewery one of the latest additions to the family’s businesses.

Very Highly Recommended.


Whitefield Ivy Hall, Dark Lager, 5.2% ABV, 500 ml bottle No. 21

DUNKEL! A lager style almost single-handedly saved by the descendants of the last king of Bavaria König Ludwig III it belies the senses, but don’t be afraid of the dark!

That’s the message from Whitefield Brewery of Templemore as they offer their dark lager. It is called Ivy Hall but was once Dark Lady. A rebrand in recent years has seen the Tipperary brewery change the names of its various beers and even the brewery name itself from White Gypsy. “As part of the rebrand we wanted to link everything to our locality and Ivy Hall is a townland in Templemore.”

The beer is indeed dark and if you didn’t know you’d be inclined to think you had a stout ahead of you, right down to the tan head and the roasted aromas. The brew is put together with Bohemian and Munich malts, roasted barley, Saaz hops, and Czech yeast.

A dark brown colour conceals the soul of this European dark beer that turns out to be a lager; as the bottle label says “don't be afraid of the dark”. The dark beer also turns out to be well-made, well mannered. Nothing sinister here, just a very interesting beer from Templemore, not for the first time. The notes from the roasted barley are a prominent feature though, in fairness, it has an excellent rounded flavour all the way through to a very satisfying finish.

A (slightly) sweet malty dark lager, as you might expect to get in Munich, a really top notch beer. Another Irish beer that proves you can do without Nitro.

Very Highly Recommended.


Tom Crean St Brigid’s Irish Lager, 4.5% ABV, 440ml can, Carry Out Killarney

A lovely golden colour on this one, bubbles galore and the bubbly head is not retained for very long. Good balance of hops (Slovenia) and malt (German) on the palate with the malt getting an edge on the finale as it has in the aromas. 

More refreshment from this one than I remembered from a previous tasting a few years back. Brewer Bill Sheppard has his own methods - go to Kenmare and take that tour! - and this is a very satisfying lager indeed that reminds me of the traditional Central European style.

This is one of the Crean beers that was awarded in last year’s Blas awards. It got bronze while their 6 Magpies Stout did even better with a gold.

They say: “This is our salute to an accomplished medieval brewer.  Rich golden colour, German malts with hops from Slovenia. We allow six weeks to bring this classic to perfection. St. Bridget known in Ireland for her saintly status, her feast day (1st Feb) and her cross made from reeds, less known for being a fine Irish brewer.”

Bill Sheppard also had a story about the saint: “…quite a lot of the early brewers were women and the church wasn’t very happy with that situation. The brewers wore a special hat for the trade and kept a cat (to protect the grain from mice) and that eventually led to some of them being called witches with dire consequences.”

Lager of course ties up your brewing kit for longer than ale and maybe that was why there was a shortage of lager from the current wave of craft breweries in the early stages. No shortage now though. Still takes extra time though and Tom Crean allow six weeks to bring their lager “to perfection”.

Very Highly Recommended.

For a recent post on the brewery please click here.  


Obolon Premium Lager, 5.0% ABV, 500ml can Bradleys

Clear gold is the colour, head short-lived. Sweet malty plus boiled rice aromas. Much the same in the mouth too but well balanced, sharply refreshing and easy drinking. Just the job for the brighter days ahead. Very affordable also at two euro for the large can.

Budmo, the Ukrainian toast, means 'let us be' and is the shortest and the most popular Ukrainian toast. Appropriate too in more ways than one these days.

This is what the Ukrainian brewery says about it: Obolon Premium is a lager beer which presents an extremely soft and rich taste. Aromatic hops in combination with a special ingredient-rice, provides this beer with a distinct flavor and a pleasant bitterness. Especially refreshing and effervescent beer with pronounced taste and palatable bitterness. This is one of the most popular beer due to its mild taste.

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 

Sunday, January 29, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #9. Craft journey with Belgian Abbey Beers and similar strong ales, Mescan, Orval, St Bernardus and Duvel

CorkBillyBeers #9

Craft journey with Belgian Abbey Beers and similar, Mescan, Orval, St Bernardus and Duvel


Not all strong Blonde and Tripel Belgian ales are Trappist, mostly because that label can only be attached only to beers produced in Trappist abbeys (not all of which are in Belgium!). But most of the beers will have high carbonation and powerful aromas from the yeast. 

Trappist ales may share a common style of home but the beers can differ. Our Orval for instance is an “oddball” according to the Beer Bible, “with wild yeast and fragrant dry-hopping, which seems to bear no resemblance to the other abbey ales”. Hard to be sure but picking beers with the designation “Recognised Belgium Abbey Beers” should help you on the abbey road!


Beer vobiscum. Killian O'Morain Mescan co-founder.

Mescan Westport Extra 8.5% ABV, 330 ml bottle, No. 21

Mescan may not have had an abbey but he was St Patrick’s right hand man and personal brewer so may well have brewed up a potion that forced the snakes to hightail it out of Ireland. This one from the brewery on the slopes of Croagh Patrick is more likely to keep people here!

It is golden, of course, a slightly hazy gold, with a soft white head that is long on retention. Just stuck my finger into that head and found those fruity esters and spicy yeast notes that the brewers speak about. The hop bitterness promised is also 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 highly alcohol smoothly controlled.

Carbonation is high too and you notice that immediately on the palate along with concentrated fruit and yeast, the merest hint of caramel also. Wave after wave of flavour all the way to the finish. Belgian style and Irish finesse earn a Formidable

It is more or less a head to head between the Mescan and Duval (neither a Trappist) in this quartet. The Belgian beer has many admirers including Mark Dredge who, in his Beer: A Tasting Course, declares that this Duvel, is “the world’s finest Strong Blonde Ale”. Just wonder if he has ever tasted the Westport Extra!

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

“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!

This Belgian style beer is extra in many respects, the label tells us: extra malt, hops and time to condition. So extra had to come into the name of this Strong Golden Ale and do give it the extra care it deserves. All Mescan beers are bottle conditioned and note too that the recommended serving temperature is a cold 3 - 6 C.

The brewery is situated on the slopes of Croagh Patrick and is owned and operated by Bart Adons and Cillian Ó Móráin, two Westport vets (veterinarians, not veterans!), who have been friends and colleagues for nearly 20 years. The pair spent four years perfecting their original recipes inspired by the beers of Belgium, Bart's homeland, before starting to brew commercially in 2013.

Very Highly Recommended.


Orval Trappist Ale, 6.2% ABV, 330 ml bottle, The Cru

Dark amber/orange is the colour, hazy in the chalice with quite a foamy and long-lasting head. Aromas are complex, yeast and hops plus orange notes and herb-y hints also. 

Complex too on the palate but all’s in harmony as the fruity and hoppy elements smoothly amalgamate, a creamy feel in the mouth, sip it slowly and savour the complexity before the long and dry finish reaches a slightly bitter finalé. 

This amazing beer has been quite a while in the making, so take your time and contemplate its many pleasant qualities. Not too many like this around! By the way, the recommended serving temperature is unusually high: between 12 and 14 degrees.

The Brasserie d'Orval, located inside the Abbey, was created in 1931 to finance the huge construction site for the reconstruction of Orval. From the start, it hired labor, including the first master brewer, Pappenheimer and his assistant John Valheule.

Between the time the monks first arrived in 1070 and today, there are many tales. Jeff Alworth devotes a chapter to the abbey and the beer in The Beer Bible. Even more detail on both the abbey and beer here

The Guardian Angel (À l’Ange Gardien) restaurant/bar, with its  superb view of the still functioning abbey, is a quiet and welcoming place where time seems to have stood still. This tranquility is shared by visitors who come with family or friends to taste the two flagship products of Orval: cheese and Trappist beer. The cheese story started long before the beer. 

The website by the way is well worth looking up and includes recipes made with the beer or designed to be eaten with it, like this Fish Soup. A fascinating story and a fascinating beer.  According to the Brew Dog book, Craft Beer for the Geeks, it should be "in the top five on any beer list".

Orval is an “oddball” according to the Beer Bible, “with wild yeast and fragrant dry-hopping, which seems to bear no resemblance to the other abbey ales”. But it does have the coveted “Authentic Trappist Product” badge. You’ll have to look hard to spot it on the narrow band neck label. Unlike many other abbeys, the monks at Orval never brewed but the 1930s brewery (Orval was first brew in 1931) was always under their control.


St Bernardus Pater 6 Abbey Ale, 6.7 % ABV, 330 ml bottle Bradleys

St. Bernardus Pater 6, a Trappist ale, is brewed according to the classic dubbel style with a recipe that dates back to 1946. It is, like all dubbels, a dark beer (dark red to brown), while tripels are golden. The #6 at 6.7% ABV is within the style’s range of 6 to 8 per cent. 

Other similar Belgian examples that you may be able to get your hands on are Westmalle Dubbel Trappist Ale and Chimay Red and do also keep an eye out for the stronger St. Bernardus Pater 8 (the most characterful and interesting, according to the Beer Bible by Jeff Alworth).

The #6 has a dark brown colour, not quite the chestnut they say on the website, and the rich colour is an indication of quality. The foamy head is tan and it soon contracts to a very thin disc. A touch of hazelnut and coffee in the apple and pear aromas. And coffee hints too amidst the fruit on the palate, all wrapped up nicely in a duvet of malt. 

Time and again in these high abv Belgian beers - and this is far from the highest - you find a delicious harmony between flavours of specialty malt and the lively fruitiness, and that harmony here extends to the satisfactory slightly bitter dry finish.

They say: St. Bernardus Pater 6 is brewed according to the classic dubbel style with a recipe that dates back to 1946. The name of this beer has become a reference for its style, and it is commonly referred to as ‘een Paterke’.

As ever the Belgians recommend a food pairing: St.Bernardus Pater 6 is a great choice to complement pork recipes or contrast against zesty cheeses. It is bottle fermented and best to serve it at 8-12 degrees. More recipes

If you come across the Pater 6, and if you see The Bernardus Abt 12 on the same shelf, then don’t hesitate. The Abt 12 (10%) is a quadrupel, full of complex flavours, great fruit and with a superb finish. It is regarded as one of the best beers in the world. In this context, quadrupel means it is stronger than a tripel which is stronger than a duppel like Pater 6!


Duvel Strong Blond, 8.5% ABV, 330 ml bottle Bradleys

Duvel is a natural beer with a subtle bitterness, a refined flavour and a distinctive hop character. Mark Dredge, in his Beer: A Tasting Course, declares that this Duvel,  is “the world’s finest Strong Blonde Ale”. 

The colour of the Duvel in your glass is a misty gold, a central spout of bubbles flying upwards towards the tight white head that stays around. Aromas are on the modest side. On the palate, it is silky smooth,  is immediately refreshing, fine-flavoured balance of fruity and hoppy, and the refreshment continues through a moderately bitter finalé.

They say and I’m not arguing: The refermentation in the bottle and a long maturation, guarantees a pure character, delicate effervescence and a pleasant sweet taste of alcohol….Each Duvel ripens for no less than 2 months in our fermentation and refermentation cellars and is perfectly balanced as a result…

The original yeast strain, which Albert Moortgat himself selected in the 1920’s, originates from Scotland. After maturing in storage tanks in which the beer is cooled down to -2°C, the drink is ready for bottling. Thanks to the addition of extra sugars and yeast, the beer ferments again in the bottle. This occurs in warm cellars (24°C) and takes two weeks. Then the beer is moved to cold cellars, where it continues to mature and stabilise for a further six weeks.

The hops used are Saaz and Styrian Golding. They recommended serving it at 5 degrees in the Duvel glass. I like the beer for sure but not a big lover of the “devil” glass!