Showing posts with label craft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label craft. Show all posts

Sunday, October 3, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #73. On the craft journey with a session at Crew in Limerick

 A Quart of Ale± #73

On the craft journey with a session at Crew in Limerick

Eoghan's Porter, going down smoothly in Limerick

What have we here? I’m asking myself as I study the tap menu. I see Adelaide Amber, Polly, Annie Brown Ale, Vanilla Milk Stout and Eoghan’s Porter. 

We are in the Crew Bar and Brewery in Thomas Street, Limerick, and all these beers, all by Crew, are available from tanks behind the counter. And there’s more on tap including beers by Yellowbelly and Porterhouse. And choices keep rotating.

The inner room in mid-afternoon at Crew

Brown (front) and Amber
Crew support more than just other brewers. Only the previous weekend, they celebrated their first birthday here with a night of good beer and great fun, and in the process raised some €1,110.78 for the local Rape Crisis Centre.

We got a warm welcome in from the showers and soon got the lowdown on the menu and decided to go through all five of their own beers.

First up was the self explanatory Adelaide Amber (4.3%), an amber ale, nice and light and very drinkable. Not too sure where the Adelaide comes in as this is more or less an American amber. 

Their details: Warming malt driven flavours of toffee, caramel, toast and a slight roastiness are complemented by classic citrus American hop character provided by Cascade hops.

While CL was delighted with this (plenty of sharing going on!), my first pick was the Annie Brown Ale (5.25%). Must say I loved it, full of flavour and one to take your time with. And the name? Well it is named for much beloved Crew staff member Annie Brown. It is a big, smooth, chocolate-forward brown ale with toffee, spice, dark fruit and a touch of citrus American hop character in the background.

Crew HQ

My next beer was the Eoghan’s Vanilla Milk Stout at 4.6% abv. It is what it says. A sweet milk stout with caramel, chocolate and coffee notes, and heaps of vanilla. Flavours much the same as the aromas, all before a surprisingly dry finish. Thumbs up again. Do they make any duds here? I doubt it. We certainly didn’t find any.

We kept finding top class beers and two stars remained. CL was a bit apprehensive about trying Polly at 6.00%. Polly? We asked. “It is the successor to our simple named IPA2 and the recipe is slightly changed, more hazy.” CL initially voiced a preference for the Amber but soon changed her tune as the tropical fruit, especially the pineapple, came through and true here with amazing precision. An absolute star for sure.

Polly is a star!

Their description: The beer formerly known as IPA #2! We took everything we've learned in the last year since we first brewed IPA #2 and used it to tweak and improve the process and recipe. The result is an even more intense juicy fruit character with a little more sweetness to balance the bitterness. To celebrate, we gave this hugely popular beer a real name - Polly. Rest in peace IPA #2, you served us well.

And we said goodbye with another dark one in the shape of Eoghan’s Porter Vanilla Espresso (6.1%). Tall dark and smooth as Eoghan himself, a great friend of Crew “who made a lot of this project possible”. It features vanilla, espresso, caramel, chocolate and dark fruits. Has a mild hop bitterness balanced by malt sweetness”. Class in a glass.

* By the way, if you come in feeling hunrgry, Crew have the solution.  Pizza fresh from Mamma Mia (William Street), can be added to your bill at Crew and delivered to your table Monday to Thursday 5pm to 10.30pm, Friday to Sunday 3pm to 10.30pm.

And who are Crew? I’ll let them tell you:

Crew Brewing Co. is a microbrewery and pub located on Thomas St in Limerick City centre, specialising in independent Irish Craft Beer.

We brew our own beer on site and serve it directly from tanks behind the bar alongside a selection of Irish Beer, Cider and Spirits.

Opened by three friends from Belfast with a love of beer, spirits and independent business with a focus on flavour, community and sustainability.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #50. On the craft journey with Dungarvan Brewing and their move into canning.

 A Quart of Ale± #50 On the craft journey with Dungarvan Brewing and their move into canning.

Dungarvan Brewing Company Move to Canning

Claire Dalton, one of the four founders of Dungarvan in 2008, is delighted with their very recent move to canning their beers. 

We asked the beer sommelier and Irish Food Champion why Dungarvan were a bit behind the curve with regard to canning. What persuaded you to make the move? 

Claire: We've always been a bottled product and considered ourselves 'bottled
first' and use a bottle conditioning process where the beer undergoes a
second fermentation in the bottle, which gives the beer its fizz. We
could see the growth in cans over the past few years and it was
something we wanted to look at doing, and the question was whether we
changes our process, invest in conditioning equipment etc to give it a
go, outsource the production to another brewery or look at using our
current conditioning process and seeing if that works in a can. The
issue was getting a small enough piece of equipment to trial it on
before 'going big' so this is why it's taken until now to get our beer
into a can! We've been able to rent a hand canning system to do trials
and get our first batches out on which is great as it's meant that we've
kept our production in house, which is something we've always been proud
of, and been able to keep using our natural carbonation process.

Q2: Can conditioning was the aim. It took you a while to crack that? Did the experience of any other brewers help you come to a decision.

Claire: We started looking into the can conditioning process initially by

trying out as many can conditioned beers we could get our hands on and

reading up on the process and the stories of other brewers who'd done

it.  We chatted to a few people in the industry who were doing can

conditioning in the UK and we also had a good conversation with Shane

from Dot Brewing who'd filled his barrel aged beers into cans using the

same system as us.  Shane was a great help, even taking a late night

phone call when the machine was being temperamental for us!  Can

conditioning is done a bit in smaller breweries in the US and UK but

other than Dot Brewing there's been no other can conditioned beers in

Ireland so there was a great sense of pride in this as well.

Q3 - You are obviously happy with the outcome? How have they been received by customers?

Claire: We're delighted with the outcome, both with the beer and the

branding.  We had a clear idea of what we wanted with our branding,

without knowing what the final look would be, in that we wanted elements

of our existing bottle branding but a much more pared back, contemporary

look.  I think we've really gotten back what we asked for, and the

bottles and cans can sit side by side with each other. The reaction to

both the beers and branding has been great so far, it's been so lovely

reading all the kind words people have sent about them.

Q4 - What’s your own favourite? What beers are next in line for canning?

Clare: Never like choosing a favourite!! But of the three we released it was

lovely to have Mahon Falls again as we've not done it for two years, and

I do like a rye beer.  Our plan is to launch more of our core range into

cans each month and then get some one offs and new brews going!  Our

June releases are scheduled to be our Greenway beer, which has kind of

become our summer seasonal for the past couple of years, and our alcohol

free beer Main Sail which we've been working on new bottle and can

branding for and are looking forward to that one.

Q5 - Do you have a mobile canning contractor calling or did you invest yourselves? 

Claire - We started off on a rental unit, which we are still using, to test

out the market and based on the reaction so far I would say that cans

will be a big part of our future so we will be looking into purchasing

our own system.


The first beers to be released by the brewery in cans are core range beers Helvick Gold and Mine Head plus the re-release of springtime favourite Mahon Falls, a Rye Pale Ale at 5.1% abv. The beers are widely available via Fourcorners; I bought my trio at Bradleys

Dungarvan “Helvick Gold” Irish Blonde Ale, 4.9%, 440ml can

Light gold is the colour of this Helvick Head, a Dungarvan blonde ale, named after a local landmark. The old finger test on the frothy white head, indicates a balanced beer with fruit and hops to the fore, the fruitiness in the aromas, the hoppiness more on the palate. “Our blonde ale is not a bland ale,” they, rightly, declare. It’s a flavour-packed ride all the way to a refreshing dry finish. The craft beer beginner will find some other beers better to start off with but this will keep the more experienced very much onside.

They say: Helvick is a great summer’s day drink, perfect for cracking out at the barbeque. Enjoy at cellar temperature (8—14°C) or cooler for a great warm weather thirst quencher. It’s an excellent beer to pair with food and works particularly well with spicy food.

And that food? Good with spicy foods, or try it with seafood — the citrus of the cascade hops provides the perfect accompaniment to fish and shellfish without overpowering the flavours. Goes well with a variety of cheese also. Check it all out here .

Geek Info -
Style: Blonde Ale
ABV: 4.9%
Hops: Cascade, East Kent Goldings, Northern Brewer
IBUs: 41

Dungarvan “Mahon Falls” Rye Pale Ale, 5.1%, 440ml can 

Mid gold with a touch of amber is the colour of this Rye pale ale from Dungarvan, again named after a local landmark. This is a seasonal release and the first such to be canned by the brewery. It’s got a soft slightly off-white head that hangs about as the bubbles power up. Aromas are citrus-y with a touch of spice. It is fruity and fresh on the palate with a malty background. Lots of irresistible flavour here, amazing harmony throughout, and a refreshing rye bite at the finale. 

They say: March 2019 saw the fifth bottle release of our spring seasonal, Mahon Falls Rye Pale Ale, which was first served at festivals in 2012 and went on to become our annual spring release after. Following a two year hiatus, we are delighted to welcome the spring once again with this punchy rye ale in can form.

Best served lightly chilled, from 8-12°C. Try with lighter-flavoured foods  like chicken, pork and fish or even with salad dishes. Its fruitiness works really well with the tang of a Wensleydale or Caerphilly style cheese. Try Knockdrinna‘s Laviston or The Little Milk Company‘s Brewer’s Gold.

Geek Bits - 

Style: Rye Pale Ale

ABV: 5.1%

Hops: Galaxy, Summit, Ella

IBUs: 50

As with all Dungarvan beers Helvick Gold contains a vitamin-rich yeast sediment in the can which is a by-product of the natural carbonation that occurs in the can. To pour a clear pint, pour out in one go and leave the last drop in the can. However, this is purely for aesthetic reasons and the sediment is absolutely fine to drink.

Dungarvan “Mine Head” American Pale Ale, 5.5%, 440ml can

If you’re going make an American Pale Ale, then it’s going to contain Cascade. Dungarvan though went solo, only Cascade here, and you notice it straightaway with that initial hoppy hit in the aromas, rising from a cloudy body topped by a soft and sinking head. That hoppy hit is easily confirmed by the old finger in the head test - stick it and suck it!

They say: This is a classic American style pale ale made using only cascade hops, and also dry hopped with Cascade to impart fresh hop aromas. Released in summer 2014, this is now a full time part of of our core range and available in keg, bottle and now in can year round.

And it is citrus all the balanced way, a teeny touch of marmalade sweetness later on and nothing really bitter at that stage. A pleasant and harmonious bottle, sorry can, indeed. Another one for your short list.

Best served lightly chilled, from 8-12°C and you’ll find it versatile at the table,  working well with lighter fish or with earthy meats such as lamb or beef. Also excellent with spicy Thai or Vietnamese food, or keep it American with a burger! Great with a creamy camembert-style cheese or a tart sheeps cheese.

Geek Bits - 

Style: American Pale Ale

ABV: 5.5%

Hops: Cascade

IBUs: 38

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Barley to Beer a Path to the Future for Ancient Ballykilcavan Farm.

A Quart of Ale± #26 

Moving on over to craft with Ballykilcavan Farm

Barley to Beer a Path to the Future for Ancient Ballykilcavan Farm

"Ballykilcavan Farm has been the home of our family for 13 generations. We have lived and worked here since 1639, and diversification has always been important to keep our farm viable for future generations. When I took over Ballykilcavan from my father in 2004, my sole motivation was to try to sustain it so that someone else would be able to take it over from me. After farming here for 10 years, it became obvious that just growing barley wasn't going to give the security that I was looking for, and so we started to look at alternatives. The new brewery (founded 2017) and visitor experience are our attempt to keep the farm in the family."

I was in touch with David Walsh-Kemmis, brewery owner and 13th generation farmer, ahead of this post: "We're starting work on our new visitor centre, and that will be ready by April of next year (when hopefully we'll be allowed to have visitors to come and see it)." 

In the meantime, we can enjoy some of their specials. "We have a few limited edition specials out at the minute (which are or will be available in Ardkeen Superstore as well, and should make it to Bradley's in Cork). Our limited edition series is called Clancy's Cans - named after the Clancy family who have worked on the farm for five generations.  Can #2 is a double dry hopped IPA, Can #3 is a tiramisu dessert stout and Can #4 (out in early December) is a walnut whip stout.  We also have our annual fresh hopped beer out at the minute - 100% our own barley, water and hops from our small hop garden near the brewery."

David uses his own barley in the brewery. It is brewed up the road by Minch Ltd, another Laois firm. As you may have heard him indicate during an Ear to the Ground interview (19th Nov 2020). "Using our own barley and water (and hops in some cases) is a great selling point for us, both at home and abroad. Check out the programme  (Episode 5) here.

For all recent craft beer/cider posts, please check out the series of A Quart of Ale± posts.

I enjoyed my introduction to the brewery via three cans I bought from the Ardkeen Superstore in Waterford.

Ballykilcavan Bamrick’s Brown Ale 5.8%, 440ml can Ardkeen Store

A brown ale though the colour is close to black, an off white head is not inclined to linger. Aromas are coffee and caramel. And you get much the same flavourwise on the smooth and silky palate that stays rich all the way to finish. Superb. IBU 26

The label declares, not inaccurately, that this is a “Rich and malty American Brown Ale with notes of chocolate and burnt toffee”. IBU 26

So what’s an American brown ale? The New York Times says: 

Brown ales and like-minded styles — including straightforward lagers, pilsners and porters — to name a few, are very different sorts of beers (to IPAs). They occupy subtler realms, quenching thirst with pure flavors and perhaps a snappy zestiness in the case of pilsner and a rich depth in the case of porter. They are not flamboyant styles that wow with complexity or make themselves the centers of attention. They simply satisfy. It’s the kind of beer that gets left behind in our I.P.A. culture.

One of the best known Brown ales around here is the Newcastle version that has a yarn about going to see a man about a dog on the label. I always thought that going to see a man about a dog or "taking the dog for a walk" (especially if you had no dog) meant having a piddle in the bushes but in Newcastle it means going to the pub for a couple of these beauties.

Another Brown Ale I enjoyed, this about 3 years ago, was Lough Gill’s Mac Nutty Macadamia Nut Brown Ale.The guys at Lough Gill admitted to having hand-toasted “trays upon trays of macadamia nuts” for this. No doubt about the colour here, a rich dark brown. Rather handsome overall from the introduction that deposits bags of flavours. It has an excellent body and a nice balance of hops and malt. Must look out for that again.

Ballykilcavan Secret Passion Pale Ale 6.5%, 440ml can Ardkeen Store

With the fruit prominently highlighted on the label, I was a little apprehensive when I opened this beer from County Laois. Would it be too sweet? But I needn’t have worried. It turned out to be a very pleasant drink indeed.

A murky amber is the colour here, with a fairly short-lived white foamy head. The aromatics are faintly floral. That fruit, and there is real fruit used here (peach and passion fruit, and also a little lactose), comes through on the palate. But in quite a pleasant way. The brewer has found a happy balance and come up with a smooth and refreshing beer. Easy drinking. Hard to believe, even if it finishes dry, that the IBU is 55 or that the ABV is 6.5. Vic Secret and Huell Melon are the hops used.

Even though I enjoyed this on a cool November’s night, I could see that it would be even better in summer and, in fairness, that’s what Ballykilcavan were aiming for.


Ballykilcavan Line Blocker Pale Ale 4.9%, 440ml Ardkeen Store

Add caption

This County Laois pale ale has a light (and hazy) amber colour. The head is not inclined to hang around at all. Aromas are hoppy, but with a hint of sweetness. and that hoppy heart continues to beat strongly, without ever threatening to overpower, so the palate is balanced, and pleasant all the way to the finish. One Pale Ale that is is hard to ignore but easy to enjoy.

It has been double dry hopped with Citra, Mosaic and Amarillo and the IBU is 54. Oats is one of the possibly unexpected  ingredients here. Beer brewed with barley and water sourced from “out family farm”.

For all recent craft beer/cider posts, please check out the series of A Quart of Ale± posts.

More on Ballykilcavan

Ballykilcavan is a 440 hectare block of beautifully landscaped farmland and forestry in the heart of Ireland. We are very fortunate that our ancestors loved the look of the farm and left in almost all the landscape features, particularly the hedgerows and trees in the fields. We also still have our original 18th century stone farmyard and 19th century stable yard our walled garden and the gardener's tunnel as well as the champion black walnut tree of Ireland.

We also grow the barley we use to make our beers and a crop of barley for Waterford Distillery. Ballykilcavan is situated in prime malting barley growing area, just outside Stradbally, Co. Laois. We have been growing it here for at least three and probably five generations and our barley is malted by Minch Malt, just 11km down the road in Athy.

We have won a Boortmalt barley grower award, and won the first ever Best Barley Cup for Waterford Distillery growers. With the opening of a brewery at Ballykilcavan, we are now able to use our award-winning barley to produce our own beers.

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.

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. 

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 PĂșca 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

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