Showing posts with label St Bernardus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label St Bernardus. Show all posts

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

Thursday, November 5, 2020

A Quart of Ale± #19 Moving on over to craft. Wheat Beers (Part 2)

 A Quart of Ale± #19

Moving on over to craft. 

Wheat Beers (Part 2). Check out Part 1 here

The most famous wheat beers come from Germany and Belgium where the refreshing drinks are known as Weissbier and Witbier both of which translate as white beer, hence the Westport and Kinnegar whites in this and the previous post. The style normally contains a large proportion of malted wheat. Like all beer styles, Wheat Beers are on the move. Just when you think you know something about it, your brewer thinks of a variation and, according to Craft Beer for the Geeks, “fruited wheat beers are the new normal”.  San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewery has the ultimate: Hell or High Watermelon! I was wondering if there were any Irish contenders and then along comes Hope’s Grunt below. 

St Bernardus Wit 5.5%, 33cl bottle Bradley’s of Cork

This famed Belgian, a classic, has a hazy golden/yellow colour, not too easy to see the bubbles but they are there; nice head at the start but won’t be around for long, a lacy veil is all that remains. 

Audaciously aromatic with clove notes standing out, touch of orange and coriander too. Very refreshing, your perfect thirst quencher as herbs and fruit mingle merrily in this traditional unfiltered Belgian white beer. 

It was developed in collaboration with Pierre Celis, the legendary master brewer who founded the Hoegaarden brewery, brewing their signature beer that was the driver of the resurgence of white beer in the 1950s.

They say: 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 shell fish 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.


The unusual lower serving temperature of 2 - 6 °C.

Bitterness: 15 EBU.

Elbow Lane “Arrow Weisse” 5.0%, 500ml bottle Bradley’s of Cork

Brewed according to the German Purity Law, this Cork wheat beer has an amber robe with a fairly ample white head that stays full for a minute or two, then shrinks to a narrow disc. Typical aromas of clove and banana and those flavours also on the palate which has a refreshing citrus-y streak. Apparently the clove and banana come from the special yeast used to brew this satisfying beer. No artificial preservatives or additives are used and they indicate it is best served at 7-8 degrees.

Somewhat heavier on the palate than both the Japanese and the German (in Part 1) but do remember that Elbow brew their range of beers to match the dishes in the group’s five restaurants in Cork City. The Arrow Weisse was the critics’ choice  recently to pair with ox tongue and kimchi salad. By the way, you’ll note that the staff in the various restaurants are well versed in the merits of each of the beers. 

Elbow Lane is one of the smallest breweries in Ireland and you’ll find it in the restaurant of the same name. All the beers are called after lanes (some of them no longer exist) in the city. Market Lane is the “mothership” restaurant and the others are ORSO, Castle Café, Goldie and Elbow Lane itself.

Kinnegar White Rabbit Session White IPA 4.5%, 440ml can Ardkeen Store, Bradley’s of Cork

Citrus leads here and there is little enough evidence of the clove and banana that is prominent in some wheat beers in this cloudy lemon coloured IPA, a very well made one, from the innovative Donegal brewery. There’s a generous fluffy white head that lasts a fair bit. 

No let-down in the mouth where the malt and hops get together in an impressive juicy fruity amalgam. A lovely balance indeed and an excellent dry lip-smacking finish with a slight bitterness in evidence. Second can appeal for sure.

They say: This is a classic American wheat beer that blends fruity malt with fruity hop flavours and opens them up with a voluminous, puffy white head.We don’t filter or pasteurise, and we let our industrious little friends, the yeast, carbonate the beer naturally during fermentation.” 

There may be a bit of sediment, so pour this cloudy beer carefully but if some ends up in the glass, don’t worry about it. “It’ll put hair on your chest,” as my mother used to say when she spotted someone’s reluctance to try something new.

Hope Grunt Citrus-y Wheat Beer 4.8%, 440ml can Ardkeen Store

Craft Beer for the Geeks say “fruited wheat beers are the new normal”. Well, here’s an Irish one, so let us see what’s going on in the tin. On the tin itself, there’s  rather fanciful yarn as to how the beer got its name.

The beer  though is not fanciful though the short-lasting head is a bit of a tease. The liquid  is a slightly hazy light gold. It is quite assertive on the palate, bone-dry, citrusy and a little spicy, the citrus coming from the hops plus the adjuncts lemongrass and bergamot. Good refreshing finish too though you have to concentrate hard to find the notes of juniper, the other addition. An excellent beer but I’m not sure I’d be guessing its style correctly in a blind tasting.

EBU, by the way, is 21 and they say Grunt is an excellent accompaniment to most food, in particular fish, to replace a traditional dry white wine, but also spicy food, where the strong flavours and refreshing quality of the beer can hold its own where a wine could not. It is also good with both strong cheese, and creamy cheese.

Had I not known about wheat as an ingredient (listed on their website, but not on the can), I’d have been inclined to class this as an IPA rather than  wheat beer. In any case, it’s a very decent drink indeed.

Ingredients: Water.

Malts: Pale Ale, Wheat, Acidulated

Hops: Citra, Cascade

Yeast: European Ale Yeast, American Ale Yeast

Spices: Juniper, Lemongrass & Bergamot

Check out Part 1 here

Monday, June 22, 2020

Dingle Magic. And other superb Irish & Belgian Beers. Session #7

Dingle Magic. And other superb Irish & Belgian Beers. Session #7

West Kerry Brewery “Béal Bán” Golden Ale, 5.0%, 500ml bottle

You savour the minutes you spend drinking this Golden Ale. It’s the languid time in summer: you have a glass in your hand and the sun is going down. Not quite there yet. Hanging on. Between pale and dark. Those golden moments. When the Blaskets and its seagulls are in silhouette. 

Sip and savour and put your arm around his or her shoulder. And whisper: “This is the best golden ale in the world”. And, if she or he is sipping the same paradisiacal beer, there’ll be no argument. For what you both are enjoying in these magic peaceful twilight minutes is truly the umami conjured up by the goddess from the Ballydavid brewery of the wild peninsula. Béal Bán, an beoir órga is fearr ar domhain. Draíocht an Daingin.

Gold is the colour of this magical ale from West Kerry. Creamy rather than crisp, yet light and refreshing with malt prominent earlier on, the hops making a show at the finish. A distinctive beer indeed, very impressive.

I drank this in 2012 at Blair’s Inn and also during a visit to Tigh Bhric where the brewery is based. It was then being described as a pale English style bitter. It was then, still is, a light and refreshing golden ale with a slight malty sweetness and a bitter finish, imparted by a generous helping of hops. Indeed, one could see why the English aficionado would feel at home here.
Paul and Adrienne (the brewer) told us that they use water from their own well to brew the beers, both cask and bottled. The malt is predominantly Irish and the beers are brewed naturally, with no additives or preservatives. By the way, they use local botanicals in the brewing, such as rosehips, elderflower, blackberries and black currants “added to our seasonal beers”. 

Beoir Chorca Dhuibhne is the Irish name for the brewery in the Dingle peninsula. It was established in 2008 to make traditional yet progressive beer. You’ll find them in their brew pub: Tigh Bhric (which also offers accommodation). .

Béal Bán is one of their core range and like the others, Carraig Dubh (porter) and Cúl Dorcha (red ale), is called after local place names. Adrienne is Ireland’s first female brewer.

Elbow Lane Elbow Lager, 4.4%, 500ml bottle
Light gold (cloudy), fountains of bubbles rising, nice white head stays for a spell. Mild aromas. Refreshing on the palate, sharp citrus led flavours reaching the parched parts. I was impressed with the early version of this lager, in 2012, and impressed with this 2020 edition too. Best served at 7-8 degrees.

All the Elbow Lane beers are relatively lightly hopped, mainly because of food matching considerations. With five restaurants in the group, you don't want an over-hopped beer upsetting the food flavours.

This continental style lager is particularly refreshing and owes its flavor to Pilsner and Munich malts and "Noble" hop varieties imported from Germany & Czech Republic. It will complement most lighter dishes, a great treat for beer lovers.

They say: We’re really proud of the beers that we make here in our tiny brewery. There are no additives and we proudly brew according to the principles of the German Purity Law which means that we use four ingredients to make our beer. We hope you enjoy.

The White Hag “Atlantean” New England IPA, 5.4%, 330 ml can

A beer from the north west with an eye to the next parish across the foamy ocean.

A cloudy light gold, but cloudy, is the colour here. Lovely fluffy head but soon there’s little left of it (the head, that is). It’s juicy and fruity for sure, with a creamy mouthfeel, the hops slightly subdued but still a notable presence. Excellent balance though and this smooth ale finishes well and certainly has that second-can appeal. New England may be a long way off but this lovely ale is easily found locally. Go for it!

They say: Drink this beer as fresh as possible, when all the Alpha & Beta oils from the hops are the most powerful. Little to no hop bitterness at the end, utilising hops that impart a tropical, juicy sweetness rather than the classic bitter.

St Bernardus Pater 6, 6.7%, 33cl bottle

It’s a dark brown colour, not quite the chestnut they say on the website. The foamy head is off white and it soon contracts to a very thin cap. A touch of coffee in the aromas. And coffee hints too amidst the fruit on the palate. Time and again in these high abv Belgian beers - and this is far from the highest - you find a delicious harmony between the alcohol and the flavour, and that harmony here extends to the 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.
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!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

A Few Beer Classics. Four of the Best

A Few Beer Classics

Four of the Best

St Bernardus Abt 12, 10% abv, 33 cl bottle €4.50 Bradley’s of Cork

This extra strong Belgian barley wine style beer has a large creamy head; colour is golden brown and there are fruity and hoppy elements in the aromas. It is complex and full-bodied, packed with flavour and then a long finish with a hoppy bite. Well balanced overall and no wonder they call it “the pride of our stable”.

Indeed, this quadrupel is regarded as one of the best beers in the world. In the Belgian scheme of beer, quadrupel indicates it is stronger than a tripel, which is stronger than a dubbel. One for sipping then, but each sip packs a beautiful punch. 

St Bernardus, by the way, run a B&B in the brewery. Now that, combined with a tour and tasting, would be some visit. In addition, “B&B Het Brouwershuis is a place to enjoy a gastronomic breakfast buffet, to take the time for a chat and to make use of the unlimited possibilities to explore the region”. Check it out here.  

Thornbridge Jaipur IPA, 5.95%, 33 cl bottle, €3.50, Bradley’s of Cork

The complexity of this multi award winning American style IPA is down to no less than the six hops used: Chinook, Centennial, Ahtanum, Simcoe, Columbus and Cascade. Thornbridge, based in Derby, are regarded by many as Britain’s leading 21st century brewery.

It wears this complexity lightly though and you’ll have no problem sipping your way through this beauty from the UK brewery. It has a fairly cloudy pale yellow colour and hoppy aromas. Smooth on the palate, hoppy, citrus notes too, and a beautiful balance all the way to hoppy finish. Not too much more to say except that this is more or less the perfect IPA. Not surprised that the award tally worldwide has soared to over the one hundred mark.

Saison Dupont (Belgium) 6.5%, €2.95 33cl bottle Bradley’s Cork

Beer has been brewed here for centuries but it is only in the last 20 years or so that the Dupont Brewery has become a global reference for saison. As Michael Creedon of Bradley’s told me “if you don’t like this, you don’t like saison”.

It is a cloudy mid-amber, fountains of micro-bubbles. Aromas of citrus. Light and fruity, zesty and refreshing, yet no shortage of hearty flavour. Reckon any labourer, even a keyboard one, would be happy with this impeccable beer. Superb finish also with the bitterness now to the forefront.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, 5.6abv, 355ml can at Bradley’s of Cork

This 100% whole-cone Cascade hops beer, with its piney and grapefruit aromas, is a classic, all natural, bottle conditioned and refreshingly bold. And still going strong after 35 years.

Bitterness comes in at 38 and suggested food pairings are grilled steak, citrus salad, Thai curry and roasted veg.

So what does this “turning point for American beer” taste like? Well, it looks like hazy amber in the glass and smells like its well hopped, pine notes coming through. By the time I had written that, the frail white head had more or less vanished. Time for the first sip which was superb, hops and fruit, a terrific mouthful. No wonder it has become a classic, setting the standard for start-up breweries across the world. Viva Nevada!

Just noticed that this Pale Ale has been voted No. 1 in Food & Wine's 25 Most Important American Craft Beers Ever. See the full list here.