Showing posts with label beer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label beer. Show all posts

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Ballykilcavan Beers. The taste of Laois in your glass.

Ballykilcavan beers. 

The taste of Laois in your glass.

The restored mill race and clock on a frosty morning.

Another award for Lisa and David
Since David and wife Lisa set up the brewery business in 2017 - the brewery itself followed a year later - the Ballykilcavan beers have earned quite a reputation in the craft world. We had an online chat with David - a busy man - and you can read about his drive and hard work, the pride in his area and county, a drive and pride shared by Lisa and the younger members of the family. 

Since 1639, Ballykilcavan Farm has been the home of the family; no less than 13 generations have lived and worked here since.  With the current careful stewardship of the land, it looks as if the story will go on and on.

What stands out  about your brewery, your beers? Is there something


David: I think the first thing you notice when you visit the brewery is the

setting - the brewery itself is in a 240 year old stone building, and

the new visitor centre beside it is in the old farm mill house.  In

terms of the beers, one thing we're very proud of is sourcing our own

water, barley and some hops from the farm.  All the beers are brewed

using our own barley, and we make one beer every year where all the

ingredients are sourced from the farm, all from within 400 metres of the


The ever popular Bambrick's Brown Ale, the beer they are best known for, enjoyed all the way from Laois to Lombardy.

Who started the brewery? Who is the current brewer?

David: I started the business along with my wife Lisa back in 2017 and set up

the on-farm brewery in 2018.  In fact, Nigel Oakes, our first head

brewer, physically put the brewery together.  It arrived flat pack in

two shipping containers, and Nigel had a two week job of putting all the

vessels in exactly the right place on the brewery floor and then

connecting up all the pipework.  Nigel retired in 2021, and our new Head

Brewer is Joe O'Driscoll who comes up with all the recipes and runs the


What are your core beers? Which is the favourite of the brewery team?

David: We had a wide range of core beers, probably too wide because trying to keep them all in stock in cans, bottles and kegs is pretty hard for a brewery on the scale that we're at.  We brew a lager, a pale ale, 3 IPAs, a red ale, a brown ale and a stout, along with seasonal and one-off specials.  We're not allowed to have a favourite - it's like asking which of our children is our favourite - but personally I do change my drinking habits over the course of the year: pale ales and the lager in the summer, and the darker beers in the winter.

Cleo, the brewery "guide" and photo bomber!

Any new beers in the pipeline?

David: There are always new special edition beers in the pipeline, but I'm not allowed to tell you what they are until Joe's happy with the recipes! All I can say for now is that there will also be more and different brown ales coming out.

Are you selling mainly in pubs or in off licences. Restaurants maybe?

David: In Ireland, it's mainly what we call small-pack: bottles and cans.

We're starting to get a bit of traction in local pubs, but draught sales

are the hardest part of the market to crack in Ireland.  For export,

it's completely the other way around - almost everything we export is in

kegs, with a few cans going out as well.

This plank for the taproom comes from the Kylebeg Wood on the farm

What’s your typical day like? No shortage of variety?

David: There's no typical day for me, really.  I'm still farming and now I do

the guided tours of the farm and brewery as well as the behind-the-scenes work on the brewery, so it really just depends on the time of year and what we're doing on the farm, or what groups are turning up for a tour.  If we're brewing, I usually start mashing in at 8am before the brewers come in around 9:30 to take over the rest of the brew day, and then it's just a case of keeping all the other plates spinning after that.

Welcome to the tour!

Tell me about one time when things went wrong. How did you learn from that failure? Can you look back and laugh about it now?

David: We roast our own barley here, which is tricky as it doesn't take long at all for barley to go from not roasted enough to being on fire.  One time, we had what we thought was properly roasted barley and brewed a stout with it, but when it was in the fermenter, we realised that it was much too light in colour, so we converted it into a porter and barrel aged it instead, and it went down really well.  The lesson is to double check the roast levels before you end up with a lot of beer that doesn't fit the style you're trying to make.

How do you choose which styles of beer to brew?

David: The first beer we brewed was our Bin Bawn pale ale.  It's the one beer

in the range that is my recipe from my homebrew days, before Joe came in

and showed he was a natural at putting recipes together.  The aim with

it was to make it interesting enough for craft beer drinkers, but not

too overpowering for everyone else, because craft is still only about 3%

of the overall beer market.

How is your beer connected to the local area?

David: I think the main way is in how we use our locally grown ingredients to make the beers.  If you're drinking a beer like our Brickyard red ale, where most of the taste is coming from the malt, that's the taste of Ballykilcavan and Laois right there.  We also like to get involved in the local community as much as possible, so we sponsor the local soccer and GAA teams, and we provide free access to the farm and event space here for local community, arts and schools groups.

Hop pickers in action last October

Water. Hard or soft? Is there much adjusting involved?

David: The water here tastes lovely, but it's off the scale hard.  Even in the

house we can't use it without furring up kettles and washing machines.

All our production water goes through a reverse osmosis (RO) system that

basically converts it to purified water, and then we re-mineralise it

depending on the beer style.  Our thinking is that you can't brew a

lager and a stout, for instance, off the same water supply - you have to

have a water profile that suits each beer.  By starting with the RO

water, we can make sure our water profile perfectly matches the beer

style and then build the malt and hops on top of that.

Our post on 9 White Deer Ballyvourney.

Over the next few weeks we'll be posting about some of the Ballykilcavan beers. For more info, on tours for instance, check out their social media.

Twitter: @Ballykilcavan


Instagram: ballykilcavan


Thursday, December 8, 2022

The Big Beer Reveal! 2022 My Favourite Beers This Year. Two tie at the top!

The Big Beer Reveal!

2022 My Favourite Beers This Year

The Top Four

1 -  Wicklow Wolf Locavore Spring Barrel Aged Farmhouse Ale

   -  Wide Street Coolship Spontaneously Fermented Ale

3 -  Kinnegar Rustbucket Rye IPA

4 -  Bradleys with Dot Nice One IPA


Next, in no particular order (all good!) are:

Lineman Schadenfreude Schwarzbier

Wicklow Wolf Mescan Wit or Without You Belgian Wit

Whiplash Dry the Rain Double Decoction Dunkel

Wicklow Wolf Locavore Summer 2022 Foraged Elderflower Saison

Whiplash True Love Waits Dry Hopped Pils

12 Acres Pale Ale

Lough Gill If I was in LA Californian IPA

Lough Gill Mac Nutty Macadamia Nut

Wicklow Wolf  “Apex Cherry” Black Cherry Oatmeal Stout.

Hope Limited Edition 26 Born To Be Free Amber Lager

Whitefield “Eastwood” Pale Ale

Hope Limited Edition No. 27 Munich Helles

Others to note

Session: Third Barrel Day Drinking Part Deux Citra Strata; Kinnegar Brewers at Play #24 Summer Ale; Lough Gill Mo Chara Hazy Seisiún; Boundary Love is Here Hoppy Table Beer Pale Ale; Boundary Trees We Didn’t Plant Pale Ale; Blacks The Session Pink Grapefruit IPA; Porterhouse Sundown Session IPA; Session: Whitefield Brewery “Woodville” Session Pale Ale 4.3%. No shortage of choice here. We are inclined to go for Whiplash Rollover but none of the others here will let you down.

Red Ale: Galway Bay Bay Ale Red Ale; Sullivan’s Maltings Irish Ale; Clonakilty Foxy Red Ale; Cotton Ball Red Velvet.

Gose: Lough Gill Wild Irish Gose; Kinnegar Brewers at Play 23 Mango Gose; Dot Brew When the Going Gets Gose;

Stout: Lynch’s Stout by the Cotton Ball; West Cork Stout X Stout West.

Brown Ale: Lineman Big Calm; Whiplash Smoke Stack Lightnin’ Oaked & Smoked 

Marzen: Kinnegar Leaf Kicker 2022 Marzen

Porter:Brehon Shanco Dubh Porter

Oatmeal IPA: Galway Bay Goodbye Blue Monday

Kolsch: Rye River (collab. with Old Street) Die Hundstage Köter Kölsch

Hopfenweisse: Wicklow Wolf Jeff Bezos

Weizenbock: Whitefield The Viscount Weizenbock 7.5% 

Black IPA: Rascals Rude Girl Black IPA

BA Stout: Bradleys & Dot Brew Shady Dealings

Milk Stout: Trouble Brewing Nocturne Milk Stout

Smoked Porter: Whitefield Old Smoke Smoked Porter; 

Bitter: West Cork Baltimore Bitter

Barleywine: Brehon Brewhouse Red Right Hand Barley Wine Beer

Brewery of the Year: Wicklow Wolf

Cider Corner

Cider: Cockagee Irish Keeved Cider 5% Simply outstanding

Ciders to note: Killahora Bottle Conditioned Dry Bittersweet Cider 2019, 5.9%, 750ml (champagne style) bottle; Longueville House Cider 5.9%; Longways Medium Sweet Elderflower Cider.


Craft on Draught:

The Maritime, Bantry: 9 White Deer Kölsch

The Lake, Killarney: Ale and Lager by Killarney Brewing Co.

Merry’s, Dungarvan: Wicklow Wolf Ale and more

The Shelbourne, Cork: Beamish and more

The Cotton Ball, Cork: Lynch’s Stout, Indian summer and more

Mellet’s Emporium, Swinford: Reel Deel Jack the Lad, Mescan Seven Virtues Lager.

Keenan’s, Tarmonbarry, Co. Roscommon: White Hag Little Fawn; Kinnegar’s Scraggy Bay.

Finín’s Midleton: Black’s KPA

Franciscan Well: Original 7 Weisse and more

Elbow Lane: Angel Stout and more

The Mad Monk by Quinlan’s, Killarney: Killarney’s Casey Brothers Extra Stout and Golden Spear Blonde

Castlerosse Hotel Bar, Killarney:  Killarney’s Golden Spear Blonde

Celtic Whiskey & Larder, Killarney: Tom Crean St Brigid’s Lager and Rascals Black Horse Stout 4.4% and more

Café Pigalle Cork: White Hag’s Atlantean NEIPA (also White Hag lager)

Blairs Inn Cloghroe, Co. Cork: 9 White Deer Stout and Kolsch

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Cheers on Beer, Spirits and Wine. With Kinsale Mead, Bubble Bros, The Corkscrew, Maharani, O'Briens Wines, Blacks, Wines of the World, St Mel's.

Cheers on Beer, Spirits and Wine. 

With Kinsale Mead, Bubble Bros, The Corkscrew, Maharani, O'Briens Wines, Blacks, Wines of the World, St Mel's.


Irish Wildflower Mead from Kinsale Mead

Only a limited number of bottles of our Irish Wildflower Mead were released, all individually numbered and signed by the meadmaker. These are only available to buy direct from the meadery. This is an opportunity to try something truly unique.
This beguiling mead is fermented to a delicate sweetness showcasing the depth and complexity of the 100% Irish honey, foraged from hawthorn, white blackberry blossom, wild clover and a little nuttiness from a walnut tree. 🐝 With a label designed by local artist Fiona Boniwell, we think it's an irresistible treat. *FREE SHIPPING* in Ireland until May Day.
2020 Blas Na HEireann award


Bubbles Brothers
have brand new wines for you!

While you're waiting for trips to the seaside to resume, dive in to six brand new wines from the coastal end of France's Loire region. Choose from four breezy, refined Muscadets, a vibrant Sauvignon Blanc and a precise, supple Chardonnay from Les Frères Couillaud.


We hope you had a lovely Easter weekend and for those of you that managed to get your hands on some Easter Eggs that you didn't overdo it on the chocolate. There was great excitement here as our new wines arrived from Cyprus, these are really excellent wines from one of the Islands leading boutique family wineries and you won't get them anywhere else!

Cyprus is an exciting island to make wine as it is home to some very unique indigenous grape varieties. Zambartas Winery specializes in their own native grape varieties as well as blends with some world-renowned varieties. Their wines have been awarded with numerous medals locally and abroad and the winery has become one of the leading wineries of the island which also greatly contributed to the current modern revival of the Cypriot wine industry.


Need the perfect online event for a celebration or corporate gathering?

Looking for a unique online company event or the perfect hen party or special birthday party?

Rebel City Distillery have created a fun, engaging, and unique virtual gin tasting experience just for you!

Springtime Bubbles at O'Briens
By Lynne Coyle MW | O'Briens Wine Director 

On the blog this week we have some must try Champagne and Sparkling wine suggestions. Whether you are planning to pop a cork to celebrate, for fun or to enjoy your fizz with a nice plate of food here are our top picks for your bucket list.

read more here



Fresh off the canning line!

You might not be able to head to the sunny beaches of St. Tropez just we've brought this delicious Summer IPA to you!
Details and Order Here

Wines of the World

May Bank Holiday Virtual Wine and Food Pairing – Friday April 30th Cork Delivery or Collection

Are you based in Cork and looking for some at home entertainment?

We have teamed up with Aisling – Ballymaloe Trained Chef and owner of the Tiny Turnip.

Kate from Wines of The World and Aisling from the Tiny Turnip will be offering you a virtual wine and food pairing on Friday April 30th at 7pm on our social channels @WinesIreland.

More Info and order here.


St Mel's Brewery Shop

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #34. Moving on over to craft with a session of lagers. Variety is the spice of life. Our craft brewers keep it coming!

A Quart of Ale± #34

Moving on over to craft with a session of lagers.  

Variety is the spice of life. And our craft brewers keep it coming!

Cotton Ball “Mayfield 5” Pilsner Lager 5.0%, 500ml bottle via Cotton Ball off licence

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. 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.

They say: 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 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.

Eight Degrees “The Pilgrim’s Path” Italian Pils 4.9%, 400 can, via brewery

Pilgrims, with some of its companions from the  #IRISHMUNROSeries

A light straw colour and a white head are the immediate attractions here. There is much more of course. This has been “dry hopped it to the heavens with Loral, the Super Noble hop with distinctive floral, herbal and peppery notes, making this beer a delightful sipper to savour” and when I think of it that was the very first thing I noticed, the instant I pulled the opening tab!  And Loral makes its presence felt on the palate as well, citrus, floral and herbal streams and that distinctive bitterness a factor both in the mouth and in the dry finish. A refreshing lager, Italian style, full of hops and character

This is their 3rd beer in the Irish Munro Series. The peak is Mount Brandon (3122 feet) on the Dingle peninsula. Brandon is named after Saint Brendan the Navigator and the Pilgrim’s Path takes you to the summit. Don’t forget to bring a can to quench your thirst when you reach the top.

Style is Italian Pils. ABV is 4.9% and IBU is 32. Loral is the hops and malt used is Irish Lager Malt.

St Mel’s “Ah Sure Look It” Spring Bock Lager 5.6%, 400 can, via St Mel’s Online

Bubbles galore rise through the light amber lager from Longford - St Mel’s produce a lot of lager here. They say: Do you want to treat your taste buds? If so I suggest you try "Ah Sure Look it" a Spring Bock Lager with a rich malty flavor complimented by a subtle noble hop bitterness. An explosion of flavor.

This “Ah Sure…” is part of a mini-series with other titles such as Go on so (a light lager) and I will, yeah, a juicy pale ale. 

A mild touch of light smoky toast in the aromas and soon the Mel’s typical crispness shines through on the palate, accompanied by a malty bodyguard. Excellent mouthfeel too and very satisfying finish indeed. 

Nice bit of Springbok muscle on this one. Joking! Nothing to do with South Africa of course. This is a bottle-fermented Maibock — the strong bock lager brewed in Bavaria to coincide with the start of Spring. I’ve read that Bock was brewed by Bavarian monks to sustain them during their (Lenten?) fasting. Joking aside, this is a very enjoyable lager indeed, well worth investigating.

The St Mel’s label reckons it pairs well with pork sausages, nutty cheeses like Gruyere (should be fine so with Hegarty’s Templegall, Irish beer with Irish cheese) and with cheese and ham toasties.

Wild Beer “Sleeping Limes” Lager? Gose? Sour? 4.6%, 330ml can via Bradley’s

Light straw is the colour of this beer without a nominated style, another with a head that makes a rapid exit. So what is it? A lager, a gose or a sour. If I had to shoehorn it into a style, then it would be lager, a limey one! Lime is prominent in the aromas and flavours and listed in the ingredients. 

Don’t know what kind of yeast has been used - the beer is not yet on their website - but I believe it’s a lager yeast. But you can see from the acidity why Gose (salt is listed as an ingredient) and Sour are mentioned. Quite a refreshing drink too by the way and should go well with Mexican (and similar) cuisine, particularly during an Irish summer.

They say: The label encourages us to “Drink wildly different”. What is it? A lager, a Gose, a sour.. All or none of the above.. put simply it is the most refreshing beer we’ve ever brewed. Ingredients: water, barley malt, wheat malt, hops, yeast, lime, salt.

Brewery is based on a farm in Somerset. Barrel-ageing and blending beer is at the heart of what they do at Wild Beer. Barrel ageing is a big thing here and they have over 600 barrels to take on the nuances of the previous inhabitants of the wood, where time can reveal complex layers and flavours that deserve to be savoured with friends or food - preferably both!

Previously in A Quart of Ale±

A Quart of Ale± #33. Moving on over to craft with St Mel’s Brewery.

A Quart of Ale± #32. Moving on over to craft with Lambic and Geuze