Showing posts with label Tom Crean. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tom Crean. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #30. Craft Session Time With DOT, McGill's, Lough Gill and Tom Crean.

CorkBillyBeers #30

Craft Session with DOT, McGill's, Lough Gill and Tom Crean.


DOT Brew Spin Off Series Session IPA, 3.2% ABV, 440ml can Aldi

A “tasty dry hop of Centennial & Galaxy” makes its impact in the aromatics in this hazy pale yellow IPA from Dot Brew. It is one of their Spin Off Series which they brew exclusively for Aldi.

Mainly exotic flavours in the mouth as the hops keep it going, yet the body is soft and light and bitterness, while always there, is on the low side. “Perfect all year round drinking” they say and I couldn’t argue with that. It is an easy-drinking East Coast Style, brewed with barley and flaked and malted oats. Suitable for vegans.

Geek Bits

Ingredients: malted barley / pale wheat / flaked & malted oats  /New England style yeast. 

Hops are Centennial (US) and Galaxy (Australia) Suitable for vegans. Exclusive to Aldi.

Very Highly Recommended.


McGill’s Skellig Monk Irish Blonde 4.5% ABV, 500ml bottle Centra Waterville

Golden or blonde ale is easy to like. Its golden colour and fountains of rapidly rising bubbles is attractive. Easy on the eye. Like this one by McGill, easy on the palate too with a good balance of hops and malt. Bread and biscuit flavours and a subtle malt sweetness make it easy drinking.

Our Skellig Monk Irish Blonde is spot on style, is balanced, light, rounded and smooth, with those bread-like malt flavours and citrusy hops and a subtle malty sweetness. As is usual for the style, the finish is not the longest. An excellent accessible beer to try, especially if you are starting off on your craft trail.

Monks have long been associated with beer making. The beer is named for the monks who lived on Sceilig Mhichíl, the larger of the two Skellig Islands, 12 kilometres off the Iveragh Peninsula in Kerry. Monks founded a monastery on the island at some point between the 6th and 8th century and it remained continuously occupied until it was abandoned in the late 12th century.

Joe McGill suggests matching his blonde with lighter food: such as chicken, salads, salmon, bratwurst, white fish and Monterey Jack Cheese. Sweet tooth? No bother. Joe says try it with Light apricot or mandarin cake, lemon custard tart.

While the Skellig monks may have had beer, I don’t think they enjoyed that kind of diet!

Serving temperature should be in the 4.5–7 ° degrees range. 

Highly Recommended


Lough Gill Cutback New England IPA, 4.5%, 440ml can Bradleys

“Our Cutback Session IPA was developed as the perfect post-surf, summer-BBQ ale with a lightly tropical flavour to put you in mind of warm weather and…if you can’t visit Sligo, let us bring Sligo to you!” That was how Lough Gill introduced their Cutback New England IPA.

It comes in a light, hazy orange/yellow colour with soft foamy head.  With the hops involved, you are expecting tropical and citrus. And they are there but so too is a reasonably stern bitterness that somewhat tames the flavour or perhaps I should say, balances them. For this is a very drinkable NEIPA from the Sligo brewery and, with an ABV of 4.5%, a very sessional one as well.

The hops used are Comet, Azacca and El Dorado, all American as you might expect.

There is rarely any shortage of ideas for brews at Lough Gill. They explain: We are very fortunate to have such a diverse and dynamic team of dedicated staff at our brewery. It is this diversity that gives us a competitive edge. Each morning in Cleveragh, we're greeted with hello's in various languages. Aside from our fellow Sligonians, we have an Italian head brewer, an Argentinian brewer, and our head of sales is French.”

“When drawing up concepts for new beers, we develop different ideas from across the table. The styles are very different in each country. Argentina prefers well-made traditional old school beers. France is following more after the US scene with modern styles, and Italians have been influenced by Belgian styles and enjoy strong beers. It makes for a good mix. We want to brew the best hand-crafted beers using the finest ingredients and, where possible, to add some local indigenous ingredients to the brews.

Highly Recommended.


Tom Crean Scurvy Dog IPA 4.2%, 440 can Carry Out Killarney

Lovely gold colour, soft white head, plenty of bubbles rising. That’s what you see when you pour this low ABV IPA from Tom Crean. 

Scurvy is a disease caused by a significant lack of vitamin C in your diet. Not a name I’d be inclined to give a beer though I understand the mariner connection in that scurvy was a curse for sailors on long voyages in times long past, in Tom Crean’s time I’d say.

The white head has more or less vanished having typed up that first paragraph. Sipping the beer itself now which has citrus aromas,  is crisp and light and very refreshing indeed. 

Highly Recommended and a good fit for the Session category.

If you prefer a hoppier beer, then the Whiplash Rollover (3.8% ABV) is well worth checking out.

Monday, May 15, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #25. Craft Stout and Porter with Kinnegar, Tom Crean, West Kerry and Dot Brew

CorkBillyBeers #25

Craft Stout and Porter with Kinnegar, Tom Crean, West Kerry and Dot Brew


Kinnegar Yannaroddy Porter 4.8%, 440ml can Bradleys Cork

Black, more like a Ford Model T than a ripe blackberry on the briar, is the colour here with a tan head that doesn’t hang about. Smells roasty. And the palate is full of those traditional dark roasted malt flavours and, eventually, there is a touch, a sweet one, of the coconut, which is actually listed in the ingredients. 

But it all returns to the more traditional porter characteristics as the long and very satisfactory finish progresses. For me, it is velvety smooth with good acidity on the way to a lip-smacking finish. That smoothness is quite amazing and no nitro was harmed while it was achieved.

Very Highly Recommended 

By the way, the Yannaroddy (based on European hops) is the 2019 Brussels Beer Challenge gold medal winner “whose surprisingly light profile delivers rich and complex flavours”.

Where did they get the name? Sounds Australian to me. But no, they found it in their own little corner of Donegal where they get all the names for their beers. A stone’s throw from the brewery is a field with the intriguing name Yannaroddy.


Tom Crean Six Magpies Stout, 4.5% ABV, 440ml can, Carry Out Killarney

Magpie black is the colour of our Six Magpies Stout from Tom Crean, Kenmare’s independent brewery, and it has a soft tan head. Gentle coffee notes from the aromas. And that coffee streak runs through the palate with the hops also doing their subtle bit.  Excellent mouthfeel and a fine dry finish as well. 

I’m inclined to think this is the best of the Crean beers, at least is the one that has made the best impression on me. Of course, I’m not the only one, as it won gold in its category at the Blas na h-Éireann awards in 2002.

The brewery: A combination of 6 grain types, but that’s not where the name comes from! A traditional Irish stout, triple hopped and reminiscent of stouts before the addition of nitrogen. Subtle hop presence, perfect mouthfeel and classic combination of grains.

So where did the name come from? Brewer Bill was trying to settle on a name when he heard an almighty racket overhead. Looking up to the trees, he saw a bunch of magpies, six in all. (Brewers are sticklers for detail). He was aware of the old saying about the noisy bird: One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for a secret never to be told.

Suitably inspired, the brewer christened the beer Six Magpies. And, of course, it went on and won gold!

Very Highly Recommended. The beer, that is, not counting magpies!


West Kerry Carraig Dubh Porter, 6.0% ABV, 500ml bottle, Carry Out Killarney

This is the brewery’s take: A rich luxurious porter brewed with bags of chocolate malt. This bold heavy porter is laden with coffee and chocolate tones. 

Enjoyed this previously over the Christmas and see little reason to change my notes. Black as you’d expect and it comes with a quickly vanishing head. Aromas coming from the malt are coffee and caramel. The roasted flavours are on the bold side, and really wake up those taste buds. Lots of chocolate malt here but there is also a balance and it never gets too sweet, just spot on. The aromas and flavours continue to make this a superb experience right through to the finalé. They also do a barrel aged version - must sometime try that (as Yoda might put it)!

Their original beer was Cúl Dorcha, a red ale (great with oysters, I’m told); then came Carraig Dhubh a porter “because we like the sound of the word as opposed to stout!” Hard for us amateurs to describe the difference between stout and porter if the professionals chose to call this one porter on the basis of how it sounds!

But agree we can (again Yoda) that this is quite a beer. Smooth, seductive, chocolate-y and there is no letting go as the lingering finish is along the same lines. One to sip and savour, arís is arís. Superb beers like this are making me think I may soon be drinking exclusively on the dark side.

It is bottle conditioned and made from malted barley, hops, yeast and spring water “from our own spring”. Traditional, yes. A bottle (or two) would go down well at the threshings I remember - but not too many threshings on farms anymore. 

Very Highly Recommended


Dot Brew Spin off Series Dark Side Stout, 4.2%, 440ml can Aldi only

Colour is black, no surprise and the soft tan head reduces rather quickly. There’s a moderate chocolate and vanilla aroma, (the head has vanished by now as I type that). The liquid in the mouth is roasty and chocolate smooth, and a hint of vanilla towards the end which is dry and refreshing. All this at an Aldi price. How bad!


Their Instagram says its an approachable stout with a medium body. “Built with Irish pale barley / caraffa special II / pale wheat / flaked oats / carapils / chocolate malt, fermented with a not so traditional low rider yeast, Willamette hops to the hot side with an addition of natural vanilla post fermentation.” 

Yes, vanilla is listed in the ingredients.

Highly Recommended.

Monday, May 1, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #21. Craft Wheat beer with Rye River, Tom Crean, Whitefield, Ballykilcavan.

CorkBillyBeers #21

Craft Wheat beer with Rye River, Tom Crean, Whitefield, Ballykilcavan


Rye River Backwaters American Wheat, 6.2% ABV, 500 ml bottle Supervalu

Beers brewed in this American Wheat style do not exhibit the clove or high levels of banana-like esters that are hallmarks of the Bavarian wheat beer styles. And this is the case here. Regular European wheat beers use special strains of yeast that produce notes of banana and clove as by-products of fermentation.

Backwaters has the clear golden colour you’d expect from a wheat beer. Dank aromas rise from the glass in a diplomatic kind of way, nothing extreme, plus mild aromas of passion fruit and citrus. The hops, Cascade and Strata, bring bright fresh fruit. 

With the darker colour and malt prominent, you are inclined to think lager rather than wheat beer. But everything’s fine in this beer garden from start to a very satisfactory clean and crisp finish, hops and malts combining more or less perfectly.

And that dankness? Well it comes from the Strata which has been described as “Passion fruit meets pot.” Along with the exotic fruit comes this herbal note of drifting cannabis (the dankness)


Cascade is one of the best known hops and has been described as the hop  “that made hops famous”. Bursting with zesty grapefruit flavour and aroma, Cascade, with its bright citrus and some soft floral and spice, is a real treat and is credited with the making of American Pale. In this wheat beer, it also plays a crucial role. In fairness, Rye River have used their ingredients well and we have a good one in our hands.

Very Highly Recommended.

Geeks Bits




Tom Crean Druid’s Wheat Beer, 4.2% ABV, 440ml can, Carry Out Killarney

Druid’s, the wheat beer, “celebrates the landscape”,  according to the brewery. “… a beer that gives acknowledgement to our rich local ancient history, we used delicately smoked oak malted barley, the reduced hop bill allows the full wheat and yeast flavours to dominate.” 

Colour is a hazy pale lemon/yellow with a soft white head that soon loses height. The delicately smoked barley and the yeast has its say as seems to have been the intention here. Finishes with a refreshing tartness.

Not your classic wheat beer, but not a million miles away either. Brewer Bill Shepherd has his way of doing things.  He has his fans. In Christmas 2021 the Independent’s Aoife Carrigy recommended this as one of her 10 great Irish beers to pair with festive food.


Bill was born in Chester in the northwest of England. He worked as a firefighter in the London Fire Brigade and later graduated from Chester University with a degree in Archaeology.  He has retrained as a brewer and is turning out quite a range of Tom Crean beers, everything from the 1% Last man Standing to the Six Magpies Stout with lots of ales (pale and red and IPA) in between.

With a wide range of beers and ales brewed on the premises, including prize winners, their brewery bar is the perfect place to enjoy a refreshing pint and soak in the atmosphere. Head over to the brewery page here  for more info…

For a recent post on the brewery go here.  



Whitefield The Banker Weissbier, 5.2% ABV, 500 ml bottle No. 21

Whitefield’s Cuilan tells us about this beer: A slight twist on the German classic wheat beer the addition of rye malt gives a drier, lighter flavour profile and is very refreshing on warm summer days. Yes! I know we live in Ireland.”

The brewery kit in Templemore was made to make wheat beer. Really. “Our brewhouse was originally commissioned by Pauliner, so it is designed as a wheat beer brewery. The fermentation tanks are low, wide and flat bottomed to help maintain consistent flavour profile while using a volatile yeast. So it comes as no surprise that our best sellers in both draught and bottle are Weiss beers. This makes it tricky to brew drier hoppy beers, so we focus on the malty styles of beer with plenty of sweetness.”

Colour here is a mid-amber, no haze and you can see fountains of little bubbles rising. The head doesn’t hang about. Aromas are on the modest side, hints of spice perhaps, rye perhaps. On the palate, there is no shortage of flavour, banana and clove included. An excellent supple drink with flavours continuing to a refreshing finish.

Highly Recommended.

Recent detailed post on Whitefield here.


Ballykilcavan Robinson's Revenge Raspberry Wheat Beer 5.00% ABV, 440ml can CraftCentral

In the winter of 1861, after a bitter quarrel, the famous gardener William Robinson stormed out of Ballykilcavan opening all the greenhouses to kill the plants in them. This American Raspberry Wheat Beer gets his name from that vengeful act. That’s the story, at least one side of it, behind the beer’s name.

Colour is a darkish amber/orange, murky (enough to enable dastardly acts). Aromas are modest with hops taking a firm grip early on. And never really letting go though the raspberry (listed in the ingredients) gets a turn in the mouth before the US hops closes its grip again.

Ingredients: Water, wheat, Barley, Oats, Raspberries, Hops, Yeast.

The producers: “Ballykilcavan Farm has been the home of our family for 13 generations. We have lived and worked here since 1639, and diversification has always been important to keep our farm viable for future generations. When I took over Ballykilcavan from my father in 2004, my motivation was to try to sustain it so that someone else would be able to take it over from me.”

Ballykilcavan is an amazing place. We recently published a post on the brewery there and you may read it here


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.