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For the past six years, tiny ORSO has been making its own distinctive mark, serving fresh and vibrant flavours, in the heart of Cork City. This is Irish food but influenced by the Mediterranean, including the Maghreb and the Levant, and places further east. The Pembroke Street venue may be small but there’s a big variety here and now it's well illustrated in a delicious new 3-course menu for just nineteen euro!
This Prix Fixe menu is available between 5.00 and 7.00pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. And this is not just a January offer. It trialled in December, is now formalised and manager Dee Munnelly and her enthusiastic kitchen team hope it goes on and on. And the reaction so far indicates that it will.
We were there last week to try it out and can honestly give it a very enthusiastic thumbs up as we enjoyed every bite from start to finish and a bottle of their own (ORSO are part of the Market Lane group) Elbow Lane Jawbone Pale Ale. The drinks - wines, beers and cocktails available - are not of course included in the fixed price!
They have four starters on offer including a Chicken Manti with Tomato Ragu and Toasted Seeds and also a Courgette Carpaccio with Parmesan, and sumac and saffron oil.
But it was the Seared Watermelon that caught CL’s eye. It was a great choice, a lovely tasty and warm dish, the slices of warm melon served with Goats Cheese, Gremolata and pomegranate. Gremolata? It is a chopped herb condiment usually made of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley.
Meanwhile, I was just as enthusiastic with my Sardine Bruschetta. The little silver sardine was delicious and indeed the warmed bread itself, soaked with oil and covered with tomato and onion, would have made a fine starter on its own. We were up and running and looking for more.
And that didn’t take long. Service is excellent here, friendly, helpful. Again you’ll have a choice of four mains. On the night, our quartet included a Lemon and Oregano Lamb shoulder, Feta and fennel and also a tempting Red Rice Black Bean falafel, harissa and pickled veg.
I picked the Crumbed Hake, served on spiced lentils with a poached egg on top. What a bowlful! No shortage of quantity here. And certainly no shortage of quality either. A magnificent palate-pleasing mix of textures and flavours, great for a winter’s evening.
And it was much the same result at the other side of the table where the Chicken Harissa Tagine went down a treat. Tasty stuff all round. And we also had a side plate with red cabbage, couscous and a cooling raita.
Just two desserts but again two gems. I’ve never had Baklava like the fabulous ORSO version, a proper and very appropriate dessert considering the orientation of the cuisine here. And the other dessert, the Chilli Chocolate Pot, was also rich and delicious.
Nothing but good things to say about this Prix Fixe. So, happy out, as we say around here!
“A collaboration with our friends over at The Dubliner Whiskey. First off we brewed delightful coffee-infused milk stout. We then aged this beauty in fresh bourbon barrels. The result is a mesmerising Irish Coffee – Stout! All the wonder of an Irish Coffee in a stout; this is magic!”
As you can see, Rascals are very happy with this collaboration. The coffee by the way comes from Irish roaster Khanya.
Coffee on the nose, whiskey on the finish, both on the creamy palate. This barrel aged beauty does what it says on the bottle and went down well with the Christmas pud.
Dungarvan Brewing Coffee and Oatmeal Stout, 4.7%, 500ml bottle
“A rich, full-flavoured stout with lifting red berry flavours and a lasting smoothness. Perfect for the long winter evenings!”
That’s the Dungarvan summary of this lovely seasonal beer. Can’t believe though that is is the 7th edition! But that’s how long it’s been a firm favourite in this house, a winter brew made using Flahavan’s oatmeal and Badger & Dodo coffee. Coffee nose and amazing flavours including roast notes from the barley.
Rich and smooth on the palate and full of flavour all the way through to the satisfying finish. Has been excellent from Day One and this current version keeps the Dungarvan flag flying high.
By the way, I was reading on their site that they change the coffee each year. This time it is a filter brewed Ethiopian Ambela -with intense red fruit and blackberry flavours that lift the beer while muscovado sugar notes give a rich warmth.
Dreaming of a Wild Christmas with Brett, Black and Brut.
Eight Degrees Trespass Dark Farmhouse Ale with Blackberries 7.5% ABV 75cl bottle.
Raised with Brett and infused with Blackberry, I was thinking funky and farmyard as I pondered this Christmas special from Mitchelstown. And then when the person alongside, who had started ahead of me, said it smelt like cider I was thinking of some early natural wines that had ill-advisedly been put on the market, quite possibly putting some people off natural for a long time.
A friend of mine who had then recently opened a market stall, always maintained you just had to get a drop or a morsel into the potential customer’s mouth to make the sale. So I remembered him as I raised the glass and soon the preconceptions vanished like the courage of a Ballyhoura poacher disturbed in the act.
This dark farmhouse ale is not a rough and ready country bumpkin (by the way, what do you call a city bumpkin?) at all. Au contraire, Rodney. And its natural sophistication is not overly surprising when you consider the distinguished “assistant” the Eight Degrees brewers had. None other than JamilZainasheff, owner of California’s Heretic Brewing and author of Yeast and Brewing Classic Styles.
I enjoyed my first glass with a slow-cooked dinner of Woodside Farm Pork (shoulder) and a bunch of winter root vegetables. The experience was excellent. But how would my Trespass drink on its own?
Excellent is the answer, again. The adventurous “melange” is more about the Brett than the hops. Not a bubble in sight in the dark brown liquid but a refreshing tang and a cutting acidity, the kind you’d come across in a good Brut champagne. A classy drink which, by the way, has spent no less than 15 months in Burgundy (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) barrels. And, after finishing school, Eight Degrees added even more of those Ballyhoura blackberries.
Perhaps not my favourite aromas but now this rich and dark saison-like beer with its lip-smacking finishis a firm favourite. Brett, Black and Brut is the new order! Now, I’d better order that goose for Christmas, as that’s the recommended match from Eight Degrees.
Trespass is the latest in their Ballyhoura Wild Series which already includes Hopsfume 100% Brett IPA, The Oak King Belgian Pale Ale, and the Holly King Imperial Stout.
I bought four beers in Bradley’s of Cork the other day, for comparison purposes, two table beers and two with a large lemon element.
So lets start with the pair of Table Beers, better known to me as Saisons. White Hag, who produced the No. 40 in collaboration with Brew by Numbers, helpfully give a definition of the style on the can.
No. 40 is a true farmhouse saison, it represents a beer style that would have been produced all around the world to quench the thirst of farm-hands, and new-world settlers alike. It is produced from the second runnings of a much stronger beer, that would have been reserved in casks for consumption in the dearth months of sustenance. The table beer was just that, a beer for the table, consumed instead of raw water to ensure health. Light in alcohol, it could be consumed by everyone without fear of inebriation and dehydration.
I’m sure you’ll find definitions with more technical clarity but there you have the gist of it.
White Hag No.40 Table Saison, 2.6% abv , 440ml can
White Hag: Superb collaborative brew with Brew By Numbers. This Table Saison is a classic farmhouse beer in true old world style but with all the frills and fair that modern brewing has to offer. An absolute delight in the sunshine.
An absolute delight in the sunshine, they say, but the sun had gone by the time I got to drinking this very pale yellow cloudy beer with light citrus aromas. That light citrus continues onto the palate and there is a fair bit of cutting on the finish. Didn’t make a great impression though. One can would be my max and then time to move on to something like the Kinnegar below.
Kinnegar Skinny Legs Table Beer 3.5%abv, 440ml can
This new Skinny Legs, “the 3.5% table beer we made together with the participants of our first K2 brewing academy, is rolling off the canning line with a smile on its face”.
Colour is a healthy looking mid amber. Moderately fruity aromas. Maybe not fully powered up on alcohol but much more flavour here. If I were a labourer after a hard day’s work, reckon I’d much prefer to be coming back to this saison rather than to the Hag. No contest.
Kinnegar have announced that from now on “our new beers will come under the 'Brewers at Play' banner. Because that's what they're really all about — giving the brewers and our customers a bit of variety and allowing us to test new ideas and trends. If we (and you!) like it enough, the beer will eventually get a label all of its own.” Go for it lads!
When Life Sends You Lemons…
Whiplash Sunshine Under Ground Lemon Smoothie Pale Ale, 5.4%, 440ml can
Colour: Cloudy mid yellow, unfiltered and unpasteurised. Lots of lemon in the ingredients and on the palate. This has notes of Lemon Meringue. Silky and smooth, with a touch of creamy sweetness and a zesty finalé. I rather like this one!
It is brewed "for Whiplash by Whiplash at Larkin’s Brewery in County Wicklow" and is their response to the long-lasting scorcher we had here in Ireland. Of course, when I get my hands on it, the scorcher has retreated. Still, no need to deprive myself of enjoying this beauty.
Sunshine Under Ground focuses on Pilsner, Raw Wheat, Oats and sweet, sweet Lactose for its base before getting an addition of Cascade, Lemondrop and natural lemon zests in the whirlpool. Fermented on our house English Ale Yeast, it’s then ‘double dry-zested’ (DDZ?) using more and more of those beautiful lemon zests building and building to 10g/L of zesty fucking madness. The eye-catching artwork on the can is by Sophie Devere.
White Hag The Púca Dry Hopped Lemon Sour (Lime, Mint and Matcha), 3.5, 330ml can
Fairly pale lime colour on this new beer, launched at Hagstravaganza. If you like pure lemon juice, you may well enjoy this. While the Whiplash is a sweet-ish lemon then this is bitterly sour. Tart and refreshing? Well the first part is true. Might well be a thirst quencher. But not my style, at all. Coming up: Sourfest at The Bierhaus Cork from Thursday 2nd to Monday 6th. "Huge selection of Sour Beers on Tap!". Plus food, music and tastings. August 10th and 11th: Bands, Breweries, Speakers, Discussions as Franciscan Well Celebrates Women in Beer 16-19 August 2018 | No shortage of good beer at Big Grill Fest, Ireland’s only International BBQ Festival | Food | Fire | Smoke | Craft Beer | Music | Herbert Park, Dublin
It may be summertime, with a vengeance, but here are a few beers that you can enjoy anytime, even if they are on the dark side.
White Gypsy Dark Lady, 5.2%, 500ml bottle
“Follow the Hops” say Kinnegar on their bottle (below) while Tipperary’s White Gypsy says “Follow your Fortune”. You won't go far wrong if you follow White Gypsy and this particular lady, a brew that contains Bohemian and Munich malts, roasted barley, Saaz hops, and Czech yeast.
A dark brown colour conceals this European lady who turns out to be a lager; as the bottle says “don't be afraid of the dark”. The Dark Lady also turns out to be well-made, well mannered. Nothing sinister here, just an 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.
Kinnegar Black Bucket “Black Rye IPA”, 6.5%, 440ml can
Don’t think I've ever met anyone from Kinnegar Brewing but I do get on very well with their products, right since I first tasted them in The Cove Restaurant in Port na Blagh in June 2013. Enjoyed three that evening: the Limeburner Pale Ale, the Scraggy Bay India Pale Ale and the Devil’s Backbone Amber Ale.
And now this one is added to my favourites. They call it “the bigger darker brother” to their popular Rustbucket Rye. It balances rye and roasted malts with fresh hop aromas and flavours and is unfiltered.
This special beer comes in a long black robe but no disguising this is an IPA and one out to make a name for itself. Hop aromas and flavours, along with coffee notes, combine to make this an outstanding drop.
West Kerry brewery “Carraig Dubh” Porter, 6%, 500ml bottle
This is the real black, that of traditional porter, and the ingredients are malted barley, hops, yeast, and water from their own well. It has a lacy head that doesn’t linger, persistent aromas of toffee and caramel. Flavours follow through in this smooth porter and then there’s a lip smacking finish.
So black is back but was it ever away? Not for those of us who saved the hay or gathered to help at a threshing, a heavy glass bottle of porter in your hand at the end of a hard day.
It also reminds me of going into Kelly’s in Belderrig (on the north coast of Mayo) and the lady behind the counter grabbing a chipped enamel jug and ducking down and coming up with it full before pouring my black pint. No head, of course.
Fancy another from the dark side? Check out West Cork Brewery's Roaring Ruby Red Ale, yesterday's Taste of the Week.
I was eating out recently in Timoleague's Monk’s Lane where Gavin and Michelle have, since they started out a few years back, been strong supporters of local craft brewers. They have a very long list of beers, both in draught and in bottle.
I spotted the Roaring Ruby Red Ale by the West Cork Brewery from Baltimore in draught and noted the “dangerously drinkable” in the blurb.
I can vouch for that having sipped my way through a smooth pint of its delicious caramel and toffee flavours, a superb red ale almost crossing into stout territory. And our Taste of the Week is great with food.
The West Cork Brewery is based at Casey’s of Baltimore, Ireland’s first Brew-Hotel, and was launched in December 2014 by Dominic Casey, Henry Thornhill and brewer Kevin Waugh. They also produce the Sherkin Lass Ale and Stout x Southwest. Wouldn’t mind being down there now in that sun trap beer garden, sipping a pint of Roaring Ruby and the boats coming and going on the blue waters. Check out three other top Irish beers all on the darker side here
Unusually, for a craft brewery, the main focus in Larkin’s County Wicklow Brewery is on lager. Maybe it is a Wicklow thing as Mont, known for their lager, are also based here. Just a few years ago, the Larkin family beer enterprise was confined to the domestic kitchen. Decision to “go” in 2015 was backed by the whole family and a year later equipment was ordered. Great feedback at the 2017 Irish Craft Beer Festival saw the Larkins schedule a full launch early this year and now, with a trio of lagers front and centre, they have arrived.
Larkin’s Pale Ale 4.5%, 440ml can €3.75 Bradley’s Cork
Essentially this is a pretty serious Pale Ale, refreshing, with low to moderate bitterness. Colour is a mid-gold (hazy), white head is long-lasting. Might be of moderate bitterness but the twice used Lemondrop and Cascade hops make their presence felt as this well-made beer heads to a dry finish.
The Märzen style originated in Bavaria. It was brewed in March (hence the name) and served during the Octoberfest. “Dark brown, full bodied and bitter” is the description of the original.
Larkin’s is pretty close to that: malty, good flavour and a clean finish. Colour may not be quite a dark brown, closer to amber. The off-white head, thin to begin with, lasts longer than expected but that’s a minor detail. This is a highly enjoyable lager and well worth a try.
“There’s eating and drinking it” is a Cork saying and it could well be applied to this strong lager. Traditional bock is a sweet, relatively strong beer and the name doppelbock indicates even more strength. It was originally brewed by monks for nourishment during Lenten fasting. Cute boys, those German monks.
The Larkin’s Doppelbock has a dark brown colour with a coffee-cream head that vanishes fairly quickly. It is aromatic, with concentrated sweetish flavours including caramel that disguise the high alcohol. Strong yes but fairly well balanced and with a satisfactory finalé. The Märzen is the easier drink though but if you are fasting, then that Doppelbock’s your only man.
Baltic Porter comes originally from the Baltic states, usually stronger and sweeter. By the way, a lager yeast is normally used and indeed, you read “lager” on the Larkin’s label.
It has, as you'd expect, a black body; also a coffee coloured head that doesn't last long. Toasted coffee and caramel type flavours, a touch of that sweetness too; flavours are concentrated and the finish is soft and pleasant. A rather nice porter but not that easy drinking. Might use it as a warm-up for a stout session! * They also produce a Helles lager but I didn't get my hands on one - yet! Larkin's Brewing Company Unit 2, Renmore Business Park, Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow. email@example.com +353 (1) 281 1640
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.
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.
With the multitude of multi-coloured cans now on the beer shelf, it’s back to basic for German brewers And Union. And their one colour cans really stand out. They certainly caught my eye in Bradley’s the other day and I took advantage of the four for €10.00 offer.
CL, who had just been to the Franciscan Well Beer Festival, wasn't overly impressed with my quartet, saying there were better beers at the Well. She has a very valid point - I certainly enjoyed a few there: 9 White Deer Brewery Black Lightning IPA and Stag Saor Gluten Free Stout; Kinnegar Brewing Hare & Hag Irish Coffee Stout; and Lough Gill Brewery Mac Nutty Brown Ale.
The four Germans though are all well made and I enjoyed each of them, particularly the black lager. Then again, as you can see from the selection in the Franciscan, I was “researching” the dark-ish side that evening. Next time, I’ll let CL choose!
And Union Unfiltered Lager, 5%, 33cl can
Brewed in Bavaria, from Hallertau Aroma hops, this is “an old school lager, bursting with flavour”. Bitterness units are 25.
It is pale and cloudy with a full head, citrusy aromas and fruit too on the palate, malt and citrus prominent, smooth to a dry finish. This vegan friendly brew is recommended as an appetiser and also “with spicy foods, tacos, oysters, tempura”.
And Union Neu Black Lager, 5%, 33cl can
Again this is brewed from the same Hallertau hops and the bitterness count is lowest of the four at 20. “A rich and toasty and complex yet light bodied and refreshing.”
You’ll see blacker blacks. It has an ample white head. Aromas of hops and fruit. Much more complex on the palate than the previous one, rich and toasty as they say and it is light and refreshing with a fruity and hoppy finish. My favourite of the four.
And Union Sunday Pale Ale, 5.5%, 33cl can
Bitterness units in this Pale Ale are higher, as you’d expect, at 35. It is “balanced and gently spiced, easy-like-Sunday-morning..”
It pours cloudy with a mid-gold colour, an ample if short-lived white head. Aromas are moderately hoppy. Hops used by the way are Hallertau Aroma and Summit. In the mouth, you get a good mix of malt and citrus, dry for sure, all the way to a hoppy finish. Pair with whatever you can handle after the night before, cornflakes maybe but not the Full Irish!
And Union Friday IPA 6.5%, 33 cl can
This “Bavarian take on the American-style IPA is not for woosies”. Not for craft beer newbies either with the bitterness units hitting 55. Hops used are Hallertau Aroma and Chinook.
Again, I liked this one with its hazy gold colour and ample white head, aromas slightly more hops than fruit. On the palate, It is a quite complex amalgam of hops and malt and fruit, well balanced though with a long dry and effervescent hoppy finish. Cheers!
This cloudy yellow Pale Ale may be low in alcohol but it is certainly well up to speed on the hop side with the Pilgrim Alpha doing the bittering business. No shortage of flavour either. It is packed with eight malts and the two hops in the name also figure. You’ll also note a touch of clove on the nose.
Important info on the attractive label includes the message that hops fade fast - fresher is better. Cloudwater are a Manchester based brewery who specialise in modern seasonal beer. Certainly worth exploring. Dry hop intensity is 12 g/l, a stat I haven’t seen featured elsewhere.
Ballast Point Mango Even Keel Session IPA, 3.8%, 355 ml can, Bradley’s of Cork
The Ballast Point Brewery is based inSan Diego (USA) and was started in 1996 by friends who were home brewers.
This is a bright and light yellow in the glass with fruit and hop aromas. Fruit (the mango prominent) and hops too on the palate. Pleasant and easy-drinking, had me thinking (wishing) of summer-time in the back-garden. Food pairings suggestions include ceviche and Stilton Cheese - interesting. IBUs = 40.
Five Points Pale, 4.4%, 330 ml can,
Bradley’s of Cork
London brewery Five Points have added American hops to their British Maris thus “combining our real ale tradition with New World sensibilities”. The combination is quite a success
I first came across this clear and bright beer at a Five Point tasting in the Abbot Ale House, here in Cork. Francesca Slattery, the company’s Ireland Account Manager, told us that they spent six months developing this. “We had to get it right. It should be our backbone.” They got it right and it now accounts for 60% of their total sales.
It is fresh andmodern and aromatic, easy drinking and perfect for any occasion. Perfect is a good word for the beer itself which features Amarillo and Citra hops.
Five Points XPA 4.00%, 330 ml can, Bradley’s of Cork
Pale of colour and a little shy in the aromas. But the palate is not at all timid, a terrific combination of malted barley, malted oats and the Citra (US) and Galaxy (Australia) hops.
No wonder it was retained by the brewery after the reason for its first production, the celebration of a local music festival, had long passed. It is bitter upfront but with a sweeter finish and the Golden Naked Oats help give it a nice mouthful. Easy to enjoy a few of these at a session. Or at a music festival!
Weihenstephaner Braupakt Hefeweissbier 6% abv, 35 IBU, 50cl bottle at Bradley’s of Cork*.
Those behind this collaboration between Weihenstephaner (the world’s oldest brewery, 1040) and Sierra Nevada (of much more recent vintage, 1979) have noted a trend away from ultra-bitter beers towards a more aromatic hoppy offering. Scott Jennings, head brewmaster at Sierra Nevada and Weihenstephan’s head brewmaster, Tobias Zollo, have produced this “perfect match” between the revered German hops and the newer American ones.
The name has nothing to do with the cool bear (I first thought it was a St Bernard!) on the front label. Braupakt (literally translated; Brewery Pact) merges “old world” purity standards and brewing methodologies with “new world” innovation and hop flavours. The collaborators say the name also plays on America’s “bro pact”.
This naturally cloudy amber Hefeweizen has a lasting foamy head. Peach, apricot and citrus on the nose, hints of clove too. The pleasant mix of aromas continue in the mouth, banana touches here too and a refreshing grapefruit from the American hops plus sweetish notes from the caramel malt. The beer is balanced and has a moderate tartness that melds into a harmonious mouthfeel on the finish. Very drinkable indeed.
They recommended pairing this wheat beer with exotic and spicy-hot fish, meat and seafood dishes.
The hops used are Hallertauer Tradition, Amarillo and Chinook. Hallertauer, often spelt without the final “r”, has a long history in German lagers. Malts: wheat malt, light and dark barley malt, caramel malt.
An interesting note on Sierra Nevada. When the brewery was founded in 1979 it was the 42nd in the USA. Today, there are close to five and a half thousand. Just shows how far craft beer has come in a relatively short time. Speaking of “short time” this is a limited edition! Well worth a try.
Eight Degrees are the latest brewery to can their beers. The Mitchelstown based firm launched three cans this March, two with established favourites and one with a newcomer. Very colourful cans they are too, joining a myriad of other colourful cans on the shelves. Canfusion for me but luckily Michael Creedon in Bradley’s always knows where the one you want is situated.
Brewery co-owner Scott Baigent said: “We've definitely seen an increased demand for cans in recent times and, despite our ongoing love for the 330ml bottle, are releasing three of our beers in 440ml cans.”
This is the newcomer, a limited edition beer, and only available in cans or on draught. This cloudy beer is a golden colour. Aromas are bright hoppy. Very pleasant smooth intro. Infused with kiwi and lime and more flavour from the Citrus and Amarillo hops, all before a dry hopping with New Zealand hops Pacific Jade and Motueka. A lovely fruity ale, “hazy, silky and fruity” as they say themselves and with a dry finish.
Lots of food pairing suggestions on the Eight Degrees site but the one I fancy is: “a chunk of good Irish farmhouse cheddar will play off the fruit flavours in both elements of the pairing”.
Citra Single Hop IPA, 5.7% abv, 62 IBUs
Tropical fruit aromas and flavours on display from the get-go here with this pale orange coloured beer. Hoppy notes too in the aromas. The Citra hop holds up well on this solo run, its tropical flavours scoring all the way through, the malt also playing its part in quite a flavoursome drop indeed, fruity and juicy and a good finish as well.
Think I'd like to try that with the suggested “grilled spicy fresh Gubbeen chorizo sausages”.
Full Irish Single Malt IPA 6.0%, 65 IBUs
This excellent beer is well known at this stage, having gathered award after award following its 2014 launch. They describe this as “a hop bomb” and so it is but the bitterness in this pale gold drink is rounded. No shortage of hops in the aromas with citrus and floral notes in there too. Local barley is the malt hero here but the hops (Ahtanum, Centennial, Citra, Amarillo) share the limelight as this clean tasting well-balanced IPA makes its journey across the palate before you enjoy that rounded bitterness at the finalé. Quite a few food suggestions again; I’m inclined to go for the smoked duck, especially if it's Ummera.
So there you go. An excellent way to pass an evening watching Champions League on the telly. Just as well, Barca stopped at three against Chelsea!
Stockists: Eight Degrees beers are widely available in Ireland. Also in Italy, France and the Benelux countries. See stockists here. I got my three (for a tenner) at Bradley's Cork.
For burger lovers, Coqbull Cork seemed to be the place on Friday evening last. It was jammers, a great buzz, a lively racket really, music in there somewhere (I heard the odd thud, thud). They come in the front door. They come in the back door. And somehow they all get seated.
No doubt, Friday is a busy evening here anyhow but the attendance and the atmosphere was enhanced by the Burger Festival (Jan 22nd to 28th). There was even a guy trying to demolish the six-burger record set earlier that day by Bandon man Colin Minihane who “who demolished 6 burgers, fries & a Coqshake in 10.32 mins yes that’s 10.32”.
One would be enough for me thanks! Coqbull provide the full experience here. You can have starters, desserts, craft beers (including their own lager), cocktails (or coqtails) and choose from a list of top gins.
Our starters were their tasty cool Nachos (with shredded beef added) and the Coqbull Wings with their Blas gold award winning Sticky Asian sauce, a delicious combination. We avoided the Hot Coq sauce though, too hot for chickens they said.
Sipping away at a glass of their lager (CL) and a can of the Metalman Wheat beer, we moved on to the main event. My choice was the most popular burger of the week, and likely to make it on to main menu sometime soon, the Bacon Bomb: double cheese, double beef bacon infused burger, caramelised onion & pickles wrapped in a potato bread bun...served with our FAT BASTARD WEDGES smothered in our new Coqbull secret seasoning. A mega feed for sure, great flavour, especially of the bacon, and that potato bread bun wasn't half-bad either.
CL’s choice was another festival favourite here, the Supreme Bull with blue cheese, bone marrow butter, portobello mushroom, truffle mayonnaise and rocket.
Another interesting one, especially on the Thursday when they had the Cork Whiskey Society in for a Scotch tasting, was The Sloppy Scot, made using the best of Haggis from Mc Carthy's of Kanturk, Beef, Ballymaloe Country Relish, rocket and a whiskey pepper sauce served with neeps and tatties.
So that was the burger done. Earlier, we had the bubbles, as an aperitivo. Every Friday, L’Atitude 51 on Union Quay have a Friday Fizz between 4.00pm and 7.00pm, featuring a different fizz each time. Last Friday’s was La Jara Rosato Frizzante - a semi-sparkling wine made from red Raboso with a delicate pink colour and wonderfully fresh aromas of red apple and raspberry and juicy peach and pear flavours. It was every bit as delicious as they promised on Facebook, really good and good value too at €5.50 a glass. Watch out for future Fizz Fridays.
Indeed, if you like your bubbles, why not check out the Imperial Hotel too. In their Seventy Six Bar, they are offering a champagne flight, three Taittinger champagnes including a rosé, at a special price of fifteen euro.
After stuffing ourselves at Coqbull, we walked out into heavy rain, heavy enough to halt our planned walk to the beer festival at Franciscan Well. Instead we headed closer to home and, with the brolly up, made it to the new Bridge Bar in Bridge Street where the counter was full and there was live music from the O.C.D. trio. Food (charcuterie and cheese) also available here.
Great to see a long line-up of craft beers here, available on draft. We ended up comparing two ales, one from Yellow Belly, the other from Beavertown. Two excellent ales. The Wexford drink had attractive aromas and flavours and the expected hoppy finish. Beavertown is a London Brewery and their ale was possibly more focussed, a brewer’s beer maybe. Not much between them in any case. May have to go back for a replay.
Lager (left), Red Ale (right). But what's in the middle? The Bridge Bar.
May have to go back for a gin and tonic adventure too. That could take a while though. This is their long long list.