Showing posts with label Torc Brewing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Torc Brewing. Show all posts

Monday, August 28, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #40. Craft IPA with Torc Brewing, White Hag, Brú and O Brother.

CorkBillyBeers #40

Craft IPA with Torc Brewing, White Hag, Brú and O Brother.


Torc Kerry Natterjack IPA 5% ABV, 500 ml bottle Carry Out Killarney

In Castlegregory, County Kerry, there is a bar/restaurant called Natterjacks. It is named after the toads in the county. Both the bar and the toad can be happily noisy occasionally. This IPA is named for the toad who has a very loud and distinctive mating call amplified by the single vocal sac found under the chin of the male.

The toad has a yellow line down the middle of the back. The Torc beer is more orange than yellow with a soft white head. It is fairly hazy but you can just about see the fountains of bubbles rising towards the top.

Aromas are fairly delicate, mostly floral and resinous with a touch of citrus also. Flavours are piney and fresh, with a refreshing punch to it, and an excellent balance between malts and hops (bitterness is mid-range). If you want an IPA with a difference, this is well worth trying.

Very Highly Recommended.

Torc says: Our IPA packs a flavour punch, brewed using Irish Pale Ale Malt, Irish Wheat, and speciality Caramunich Malt. This blend, combined with select hops, results in a well-balanced India Pale Ale…. Ideal food pairings include pork, steak, BBQ, and spicy dishes.

And about those natterjacks? Well, the label tells us they are an endangered species in Ireland.  Their natural range is restricted to the coastal zones around Castlemaine Harbour and Castlegregory in Co Kerry. In Spring, when the male is most active, the loud croaking call can be heard from as much as one kilometre away.”

Geek Bits

SRM: 4.3 • IBU: 83 • ABV: 5%
Style: Indian Pale Ale • Released: 2023

Malts: Irish Pale Ale Malt, Irish Wheat, and speciality Caramunich Malt


White Hag Atlantean NEIPA 5.4% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

This hazy pale orange ale comes with a white foamy crown that soon dissipates. It is, of course, meant to be cloudy as that is part and parcel of a New England IPA. Aromas are of the tropics, nothing too strong though.

“Drink the beer as fresh as possible, when all the Alpha & Beta oils from the hops are the most powerful.” And I did just that and got a creamy rush of refreshment, a velvet glove equipped with a big, juicy, fruit punch. I’ll take a count and go again.

The White Hag has expended “copious amounts’ of American hops in this one. But the bitterness you might have had expected has been subdued by the use of oats and lactose that add a rich creaminess. It is not that unusual for New England IPAs to exhibit a tropical, juicy sweetness rather than the classic bitter.

  • The ABV is 5.4%, which is on the lower end for a NEIPA. This makes it a bit more sessionable.
  • The beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized.
  • The beer is best enjoyed fresh, as the hop flavours will fade over time.

Very Highly Recommended.

Breweries can come up with amazing yarns. This is the one on the Atlantean label: Atlantean is inspired by mythological sea journeys that took curious voyagers beyond the ninth wave in search of the magical Otherworlds and the secret treasures they held. For this IPA our inspiration has travelled back from the other lands of New England across the cloudy foam of the Atlantic.

Ingredients: water, lactose, barley, wheat, oats, yeast, hops


Brú Urban Jungle Citrus IPA 5.5% ABV,

“Amarillo, a pioneer of American hops, is blended with Ekuanot. This mix has created a vortex of fresh fruity flavours, above all the citrus side with a hint of pineapple sweetness.” That’s the intro to this IPA from Brú.

Colour is mid-gold, slightly hazy with a soft white head. The aromatics are moderate, mostly on the Citra side: lemon, orange and lime. The two hops combine well and give a complex mix on the palate, that “vortex of fresh fruit flavours” according to the brewery. Above all, it is refreshing, with a decent bittering at the finish.

Fruity and refreshing then and Highly Recommended.

Geek Bits

Hops: Amarillo, Ekuanot

Malts: Carapils, Golden Promise, Oat Flakes, Pale

Brú is proud to champion local ingredients. “We’re engaged with our community, working alongside local producers to bring our customers the best examples of Irish food and drink.

As an Irish company, we’re committed to supporting local charities and the communities around us. In brewing, our Irish partners include:

• Loughran Family Malt
• Wicklow Hops Company
• Malting Company of Ireland"

Brú, established in 2013 in County Meath, nowadays offer two core ranges “driven by the same brewing spirit”: BRÚ core and Urban Jungle. “BRÚ Brewery brews beer for all tastes, whether you’re a seasoned craft beer drinker, or just looking for a familiar quality pint.” The beers are widely available and well worth checking out.


O Brother Ikigai Oat Cream IPA 6.1% ABV, 440 ml can No 21 Coburg St

Some similarities between this and the Atlantean above. Colour is common, a hazy pale orange, though Ikigai has a larger head, soft and longer lasting. Aromas are subtle, citrus, grassy and grapefruit. These along with citrusy, spicy and herbal notes follow through just about to the palate, with hints of sweetness thanks to the lactose, and the expected creamy feel (from the oats) barely materialises as the beer seems to lose its way.

They say: “Ikigai is your true purpose in life or reason for being. We know what gets us up in the morning and keeps us going through the challenging times: Finding new and exciting ways to make delicious beer, meeting and working with like-minded independent souls who are pushing the boundaries of their fields and bringing it all together to create an elevated beer experience for all our thirsty beer drinkers. Beer is our Ikigai.”

Geek Bits

Label: Citra, Comet

Ingredients - Water, Malted Barley, Oats, Lactose, Hops, Yeast

Friday, June 30, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #32 Craft. Craft. A mixed bag with Wide Street, Mescan, Wicklow Wolf and Torc.

CorkBillyBeers #32

Craft. A mixed bag with Wide Street, Mescan, Wicklow Wolf and Torc.



Wide Street House Saison 5.5% ABV, 440ml can Bradleys

Saison is a traditional Belgian beer brewed for the summer-time workers and Longford brewery Wide Street (it is situated on a very wide street) claims theirs is a classic representation of the Belgian Saison style. 

It pours a murky orange colour with a good white head. Aromatics throw up moderate banana notes, also a very mild spice. Glug this and you miss a lot. Sip and savour and you get citrus notes, that spice again and a smooth background wrap of banana.

Their yeast had been playing quite a role in this two-month fermentation and it is Saccharomyces cerevisiae var diastaticus saison strain (don't know of any abbreviation!).

They have also employed their favourite hop Saaz in the process and that provides a medium bitterness backed up with those hints of banana and pepper.  It had been “elected’ to their core range, the punters obviously liking the mild banana aromas and flavours, and a touch of peppery spice;  the bitterness factor is mid-range.

The beer has new packaging. “Our House Saison, part of our core range, has just got a rebrand! It's the same recipe with a fresh look for a zesty and peppery dry saison. Perfect pairing with barbecue meats, salads and fish.”

Highly Recommended.


Mescan Westport Saison, 5.8% ABV, 330 ml bottle

Saison is a traditional farmhouse style from the South of Belgium brewed to sustain the workers during long days of toil in the sun. Mayo’s Mescan are noted for their Belgian style beers and this Saison is an amazing example of how well they have learned the arts of the Belgian aces.

Colour of this Mescan is a slightly hazy orange, with a soft white head that sinks slowly. Aromas include clove and citrus notes. It is dry and light on the palate, effervescent and refreshing. Indeed, that refreshing fizziness is quite a feature. It is also very well balanced, with the New World hops matched by the earthy spicy yeast flavours, and you don't really notice the high alcohol. But do sip rather than gulp!

There is something different, something more wide-ranging about this Mescan saison. Flavours are deeper, longer lasting, and the experience more satisfactory. More than likely it comes from longer ageing (a brewery policy). 

On my recent visit to the rural brewery in Mayo, brewer and co-founder Cillian Ó'Móráin explained that Mescan beers take a minimum of 4 months with the heavier ones getting 6-8 months whereas your normal craft beer takes just a few weeks from start to shop (can vary from brewer to brewer). While the extra time makes the Mescan more expensive, Cillian reckons it is crucial for the quality of the beer. And it is indeed a premium product, illustrated well by this superb saison. 

Very Highly Recommended.

It is refreshing and quite a thirst quencher (which is the whole idea), and Mescan, as you may know, was St Patrick’s brewer and no doubt the odd conversion was facilitated by a jug of his cloudy brew. 

The modern bottle-conditioned beer is still somewhat cloudy! All Mescan beers are bottle conditioned. To enjoy them clear, store them upright and pour into a glass, leaving the yeast sediment in the bottle.

With its slightly bitter finish, Saison goes well with spicy dishes such as curries or chicken wings. "Our Saison is a real thirst quencher!" For more pairing ideas check their Food Pairing Wheel here

If you'd like to visit Mescan, they are open to visitors most Friday afternoons through the summer - online booking is required here.


 Honey Hefeweizen

Wicklow Wolf Honey Hefeweizen Locavore Spring 2023, 6.0% ABV, 440ml can Bradleys

The Wicklow Wolf Locavore series always scores highly in this quarter and I knew I had another winner in my hand when I tasted the Spring 2023 edition, a Honey Hefeweizen, at the Easter Beer Fest in Franciscan Well.

Local, as you know, is always at the heart of the series, and this is brewed with locally sourced Wicklow heather honey from the hives of “our friends in OpenHive” and using wheat grown in the field behind the brewery. Balance as always is important and therefore the character of honey should be evident but not allowed to take over.

It has a pale gold colour and is hazy, with a white head. It is based on a “strong wheat grain bill” and classic wheat beer aromas of banana and clove rise from the glass, also a touch of spice. And the beer seems a little bit sweeter on the palate as it and the honey get together but that important balance is achieved. 

Quite a taste of Wicklow then and Very Highly Recommended. So a contender for honours already from Wicklow. And could it repeat the Wicklow Wolf Locavore Spring 2022 (Barrel Aged Farmhouse Ale) that was joint first in the blog’s Beer of the Year last year?

Geek Bits

20 IBUs

Hops are Idaho 7

Heather Honey an ingredient.

Malts are: Pilsner, Wheat, Munich Both lagers and ales can be brewed with honey. Some brewers will choose to experiment with ingredients, while others will add honey to traditional styles. Overall the character of honey should be evident but not totally overwhelming.


Smoked German Ale

Torc Smoked German Ale, 6.0% ABV, 500ml bottle, Carry Out Killarney

Torc doesn’t tell us much - their website is under construction - but they say this was brewed using beech wood smoked malt to create a rich dark beer with savory (they use the American spelling) and smoked aromas. They also call it an ale.  Most German-smoked beers (Rauchbiers) that I know of are in the lager class. Torc has used “select smoked German malts”, smoked with beech wood.

However, any style of beer may be smoked. But, no matter the style, balance is always sought and that “guest” ingredient should not dominate. The style did originate in Germany as Rauchbier and other brewers can come up with their own recipe, subject to balance of course. However, a beer that may seem overly smokey early on may become less so as it ages because smoke flavours get weaker over time.

Remember those bacon crisps we used to get in bars a long time ago, you still do. Well, in fairness this beer has that aroma, “Liquid bacon fries” as Limerick brewery Crew calls them. Colour of the Torc effort is a hazy reddish/brown and the head soon shrinks. The flavours follow the aromas but, in both, I’d say that Torc have achieved an excellent balance - the bacon fries effect is moderate - and the beer drinks and finishes well.

Highly Recommended

Although a classic Rauchbier is brewed as a lager of the malty German persuasion, smoke beers can take other forms. Smoked porters are common in the US. Nowadays, just a handful of breweries in Bamberg, Germany carry the Rauchbier torch. They continue the tradition of making beer with malt smoked over beechwood, which imparts a smooth and pleasant smoky flavour, similar to that of hickory – so similar that Rauchbiers are sometimes colloquially referred to as “Bacon Beers.”

So now, that you have the picture, it is over to you! it’s a challenge getting the balance just right, and arguably just as challenging to find the right audience for it. Torc certainly got the first part pretty much spot on and it looks as of their customers are up for it. 

Pair it with delicious Gubbeen Hot Smoked Ham, also Baltimore Dry Cured Black Bacon or Ummera Smoked Bacon Rashers. Or just a little pack of those Bacon Fries! 

Recent Irish examples of the style are:

Kinnegar 20÷2 Anniversary Rauchbier

Whiplash Immolator Triple Decoction Smoked Doppelbock 

Whiplash Smoke Stack Lightnin’ Oaked & Smoked Brown.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen from Bamburg is a German classic. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Taste of the Week. Torc's Raspberry & Vanilla Sour

Taste of the Week
Torc Brewing Raspberry & Vanilla Sour, 4%, Bradley’s of North Main Street exclusive.

What is a sour beer? Don’t want to overcomplicate this and put you off. Think of a very dry cider or that gripping Basque wine Txakoli and you won't be a million miles away. Just be aware that in sours, as in ales and lagers, you’ll have quite a range. So you’ll have to try for yourself and this is a good one to start with.

I couldn't find an entry for sour in Slainte (The complete guide to Irish craft beer and cider).Perhaps they weren't any Irish sours when the book was published two years ago. Now there are quite a few. Yellow Belly and Eight Degrees had examples at the recent beer fest in the Cork City Hall. Perhaps the most high profile recent example for me was the Rodenbach at the Franciscan Well October Beer fest. By the way, people looking for cider at the festival, were offered this and there was a great reaction to it.

And this limited edition Torc is the newest Irish on the sour scene. While waiting for the revised edition of Slainte, I checked Wikipedia. Sour beer, they say, is beer which has an intentionally acidic, tart, or sour taste. The most common styles are Belgian lambics, gueuze and Flanders Red Ale, gose too.

This sour, by Killarney based Torc, is a collaboration with Bradley’s and is brewed with fresh raspberries and vanilla pods. The fruit, of course, is there to give a balance plus flavour.

The beer is tart, no doubt, yet not that mouth-puckering tart. It is refreshingly fruity, yet not overly so. I must admit I was well into the conversation with this well balanced cloudy beer before coming round to the idea that we could be friends! Well worth a try for yourself.