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

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Mauritius to Mitchelstown. How a long trip pays off for Eight Degrees. Brains, brawn. Long hours and hard work too!


Mauritius to Mitchelstown.
How a long trip pays off for Eight Degrees.
Brains, brawn. Long hours and hard work too!
Scott (left) and Cam

It’s not eight degrees when we visit the brewery. It’s just hovering between two and three and the Galtee Mountains are looking well under a lace-cap of new snow. Reminds me of the Swiss town of Engleberg even if the Galtees are nowhere near as high as the Alps.

No danger of getting cold though for the founders and workers at Eight Degrees as they are mightily engaged in moving operations from the old brewery to their German giant from Mauritius. The giant has been asleep in Mitchelstown -he did after all have a long journey - but now there are signs of life as Cam, Caroline and Scott are bringing it all together in a large unit in an industrial park on the northern edge of the North Cork town.

The three principals, especially Scott and Cam (seeking to make good beer like they had enjoyed down under), had started off with a home brew kit (still in use!). They had some success with that and indeed won a prize at a “home-brew” competition. The cottage in Kildorrery was getting crowded so, having started on the serious side in 2010, they began brewing in 2011.
Caroline (left) with the two of us.

Their first real brewery, including a legendary forklift that could only reverse (work that one out), came from the Carlow Brewing Company and that too is still installed in a nearby unit on the estate and has much more work ahead of it.

The home-brewing was all very well and valuable experience was gained. But it was still a nervous group that prepared for their first public outing, a beer festival at the Franciscan Well. And a shock was in store for the rookies when that batch of ale turned out to be bad! They can laugh at it now. Then though the pressure was on, big time! And the relief was palpable when the second batch was spot on and ready for the festival.

But how would the public take to it? Cam and Scott waited nervously with their one beer, their one tap. An older guy (don’t think it was me!) came over and tried it, hummed and hawed for a moment or two and then gave the thumbs up. It proved quite a hit at the Well and there was no turning back for Howling Gale. It is still their top seller - just goes to show the importance of getting it right at the beginning. By the way, Bohemian Pilsner, another of their originals, is their number two.
Top seller.
Right from the start!

And where can you find the Eight Degrees beers? All over, basically. They’ve been exporting to Italy (their #1 export market) since 2012. France also takes the beers, indeed you can find them in most of Europe. The UK too of course (with that pesky Brexit question mark).  

Beirut in the Lebanon is a relatively new market for them and they had a very enjoyable promotion there last St Patrick’s Day. The beers also travel to Australia, Singapore, Macau, Hong Kong and they have just gone into Japan.

They find it hard to keep up with the amount of outlets themselves but you can get pretty up-to-date info here.

Showcases the best home grown barley
Caroline is our guide as we go through B2, their high quality, if secondhand (“there is a Done Deal for breweries” she tells us) brewery from Mauritius. By 2014, “things were looking good” for Eight Degrees, so good in fact that expansion was on the horizon though no-one thought the gate to it was lying unused on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

There was quite a buzz as “the lads headed off to Mauritius” and did the deal in September 2014. Apparently, there were two competing breweries on the island, one closed and that opened the door for the successful Eight Degrees bid. There was no delay in the delivery and it arrived in Mitchelstown in January 2015.
A work in progress.

But scarce resources meant they weren’t able to proceed with the project and B2 stayed in storage for two years or so. Progress was slow but their new base began to be adapted in August 2016 and it is still a hive of activity with brewing going on in what is something of an indoor construction site. 
A tank from their first brewery.
They thought it was big!

By the way, one of the important factors for the area is that there are ten full time employees in Eight Degrees and the commissioning of B2 has given employment to various contractors. Some going!

They have a bottling plant too of course as they like to keep full control of their beers from start to finish. They moved into canning about six months back. The canning is done on site by a visiting contractor and that means they can keep an eye on it. Only certain beers are canned while some are sold in a variety of formats. And Caroline told me the canning has worked out very well for them.

It’s been quite a year for the trio behind the firm. Last May, they sold Eight Degrees Brewing to Irish Distillers, Ireland’s leading supplier of spirits and wines and producer of the world’s most well-known and successful Irish whiskeys.

At the time, Caroline told me: When we set up the brewery in 2010, it was with the idea of brewing naturally adventurous, great tasting beers that were more exciting and innovative than anything else in the market. Becoming part of the Irish Distillers family means that we have the long-term capabilities to continue on this mission as well as being part of the very exciting Jameson Caskmates story.
A new limited edition Red IPA

The recent Blowhard Imperial Stout is the first result of the union; there'll be more so watch this space.

Caroline, who has a distinguished background in food writing, didn’t expect to be a factotum in a brewery. She is as enthusiastic as any of the lads. She loves the give and take between the various micro-brewers; they help one another and she is more than thankful for the help Eight Degrees got in the early days.

The enthusiasm comes through when she talks about the malted barley. “I love how it comes up the road to us from Togher, much of it grown in the fields around here. It is a high quality barley and we showcased it in the Full Irish which has those great rounded flavours.”

Looks as if we can expect a flavourful future from the hard-working team at Eight Degrees!



Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Taste of the Week. Rascals New England IPA Nine.


Taste of the Week
Rascals New England IPA Nine, 9% abv, 440cl can Bradley’s Cork €4.95

Rascals of Dublin are big fans of the New England IPA style and have three variations, each named based on the abv. The series is called 759 (why not 579, I wonder). The Limited Editions are unfiltered, unpasteurised. Cryo Amarillo and Cryo Mosaic are the hops used.

Exotic, juicy and Banger is how they describe this. Loads of hops and, just to be sure, no less than three separate dry hop additions. You, like me, might be wondering about the Cryo hops. Cryo is a relatively new concentrated hop powder. Fairly technical stuff but the end result means your beer has everything you like about hops but not the bitterness.

Rascals have a West Coast IPA called Good Vibrations. Vibrations from this New England libation are also pretty good. Our cool Taste of the Week.

If in Dublin why not visit the source, the Rascals Taproom.  I had hoped to call there on a recent Tuesday but no joy as it is not open on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Monday, January 14, 2019

ORSO: Making a difference. Superb new 3-course menu for €19.00


ORSO: Making a difference.
Superb new 3-course menu for €19.00
Watermelon

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.
Bruschetta

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.

Hake
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.
Baklava

Chocolate Pot
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! 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Winter Coffee Stout Double from Rascals and Dungarvan


Winter Coffee Stout Double

Rascals Brewing Irish Coffee Stout, 4.8%, 500ml bottle 

“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. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Wild Christmas with Brett, Black & Brut. Eight Degrees Trespass Dark Farmhouse Ale


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 Jamil  Zainasheff, 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 finish is 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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Four Beers. Two Comparisons. Two Aces. Festival News


Four Beers. Two Comparisons. Two Favourites.

Table Beers

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.

Techie bits: 
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



Wednesday, July 4, 2018

More from the dark side.


More from the dark side

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.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Taste of the Week. Roaring Ruby Red Ale


Taste of the Week
Roaring Ruby Red Ale

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

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Larkin's Brewery of Wicklow. A Family That Brews Together.


Larkin's Brewery of Wicklow.
A Family That Brews Together.
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.

Larkin’s Märzen Lager 5.7%, 500ml bottle €3.50 Bradley’s

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.

Larkin’s Doppelbock Lager 7.6%, 500ml bottle €3.95 Bradley’s

“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.

Larkin’s Baltic Porter 7.0%, 500ml bottle €3.95 Bradley’s


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.
info@larkinsbrewing.com
+353 (1) 281 1640


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.

Monday, April 30, 2018

And Union. Solid Colours Stand Out.


And Union. Solid Colours Stand Out.
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!




Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Low ABV Can Session


A Low ABV Can Session 
Cloudwater Small Citra Ekuanot Pale Ale, 2.9%, 
440 ml can, Bradley’s of Cork


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 in San 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 and modern 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!