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

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Tom Crean Base Camp. Eat. Drink. Sleep

 Tom Crean Base Camp. Eat. Drink. Sleep.

Special delivery! That's the brewery van in the background.

The young sheep rush into their new ground and the words con brio come to mind as they dash hither and thither and investigate their new surroundings on a grassy slope near Kenmare.

And the same words could well be applied to the enterprise at the top of the town’s Main Street painted blue and known as the Tom Crean Base Camp. Aileen Crean O’Brien, grand-daughter of the legendary Antarctic explorer, leads a team than runs a B&B, a restaurant and a micro-brewery, all under the one roof.

Aileen on Carrauntoohil. Pic from Tom Crean Base Camp.

Aileen and her family seem to have inherited the determination, endurance and enterprise of her grandfather. Indeed, in 2016 a bunch of them set off for South Georgia to see at first hand what Tom had experienced in his third trip to the region (this with the explorer Shackleton). 

They certainly experienced the real thing and Aileen ended up with a broken leg and they had to wait to get to Chile to get that sorted. And, on her return, she didn’t sit back and take it easy but resumed her duties as head of the kitchen. Staff, we were told, gave her and her crutch a wide berth for a while!

Bill, in the brewery

Friends had told us that Aileen is an accomplished cook, having learned the ropes in the kitchen at the town’s famous Park Hotel under the guidance of Michelin head chef Matt d’Arcy. They later married and opened their own restaurant but Matt’s untimely death meant Aileen had to leave the business while she raised her young family. She came back in 2009 and refurbished and renamed the restaurant and accommodation in honour of her grandfather. And it keeps expanding.

The latest enterprise is their micro brewery and that was our first visit on what turned out to be quite a day in Kenmare. We had booked our tour for 3.00pm and met our guide Bill Sheppard who co-founded the brewery with Aileen in 2019. The couple had met during one of her trips to India and they married earlier this year.

Bill was born in Chester in the northwest of England. He worked as a fire fighter in the London Fire Brigade and later graduated from Chester University with a degree in Archaeology.  Now he has retrained as a brewer and is turning out quite a range of Tom Crean beers, everything from the 1% Last man Standing to the Six Magpies Stout with lots of ales (pale and red and IPA) in between.

Most of the sales are direct from their premises and he also delivers around the town pushing his trusty sack-truck. But they do have a van. After all they have customers in other Kerry towns including, appropriately, Tom Crean’s birthplace of Annascaul. 

As Bill told us the story behind the brewery, we sipped from a number of the beers, including the St Bridget’s Lager; the saint was a brewer herself. Druid’s, the wheat beer, “celebrates the landscape” and another new beer, Kerry Surf & Turf, is a tribute to land and the sea. He reckons his 6 Magpie Stout is as good as any around and Aileen uses it in one of her beef pies.

Fish Pie

The café here is a daytime venture, understandable as they also do B& B here and the day is long enough. So, from 9.00am to 4.00pm, you may have breakfast and lunch. After that, up to 6.00pm or so, there’s pizzas and a few specials as well. And all of this, at the time of writing, is in an improvised outdoor setting in the yard alongside the little brewery. Outdoor yes but well covered; it lashed when we dined after the tour and, while the place is airy enough, not a drop got through! Suppliers are all local and you can guess where the beer comes from! 

The highlight for me was “Star Seafoods Gratin” (Scallop shell, piped with mash, cod, salmon, mussels, vegges, seafood sauce, Cheddar Cheese, and Billy’s Mixed organic leaves, with fries), all in all a superb fish pie! CL meanwhile was quiet enough, concentrating on her very tasty Fish Cakes with Pineapple Salsa, Chips and Salad.  No shortage of fish in those cakes. By coincidence, Star Seafoods are a local Kenmare firm and we get quite a few deliveries from them here in Cork city, indeed, I saw them selling fish in Blarney yesterday, a very efficient outfit indeed. 

Fish Cakes

Both the starters were excellent as well: the Panko Coated Prawns (sweet chilli dip with Billy’s organic mixed leaves in a honey and mustard dressing) and the BBQ Chicken Wings (Indian Mint Dip - low fat Greek style yogurt with chilli and mixed organic leaves).

Newcomers, the Bonane Babes

Aileen, after her shift in the kitchen, then came out for a chat and that brings me back to the sheep. “Big day tomorrow getting our sheep for my front garden.  We finally got a herd number,” she told us.  “We produce our own electricity (P.V. panels provided by local firm Pro-Solar). and use the spent grain for dog biscuits (customers' dogs benefitted!) and muffins.  We will be able to feed the sheep the spent grain now and, later on, sell the lamb in the restaurant.  We are also awaiting our number for pigs and will do the same with them.  Really excited about it all.” The sheep, two boys and two girls, are settling in well and are already known as the Bonane Babes.

Quite an enterprise going on here. Quite a woman. Think her grandfather would be very proud of what Aileen and the family have accomplished here. And they’re are not finished yet!

Also on this trip: Three Days in Kerry, from Dingle to Kenmare. Check out the sights, the food, the hotels and B&Bs here.

Tour de Munster at the Base Camp last month. Pic from Tom Crean Base Camp.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

World Champion Beers From Rising Sons In Cork's Coal Quay*

A Quart of Ale± #42

On the craft journey.

World Champion Beers

From Rising Sons In Cork's Coal Quay*

Take 1: So there I was walking down Cork’s Parnell Place, after a quick bowl of soup in the corner shop. There was a guard walking 20 or 30 yards in front of me. Two fellows were approaching him, staggering. They got quite close to him. Too close. He caught each by the hair and banged their two heads together. 
One staggered to the left and managed to lean, half-sitting, on a window sill, the other to the right where he flopped to sit on the kerb.

Take 2: Just walking down Parnell Place having collected a Take Out (a very good one) from L’Atitude 51. I spotted three young men by a hatch at the Poor Relation. They were ordering food and drink to take away. Then I spied a few cans of beer on the counter so I joined the queue and got myself some Changeling and Dreamcatcher - I had been on the lookout for those ales.

Take 1 was at about 2.00 in the morning, more than fifty years ago. Was that late-opening corner shop called Keane’s? Take 2 was at about 6.00pm last Friday evening . The Poor Relation is owned by Cork Heritage Pubs who also have the Rising Sons Brewery under their considerable wing.

There, you may get delicious sandwiches made to order, coffee & cakes and more (including cans and growlers of their own Rising Sons beer) from 7.30am – 7.00pm Tuesday – Saturday & 12noon – 7.00pm on Sunday at the Poor Relation, pre-order here.

The brewery, in the Coal Quay, the heart of Cork City, has been mentioned in Lonely Planet: “This huge, warehouse-like, red-brick building houses an award-winning microbrewery. The industrial decor of exposed brick, riveted iron and gleaming copper brewing vessels recalls American West Coast brewpubs. It turns out 50 kegs a week, some of them full of its lip-smacking trademark stout, Mi Daza, and has a food menu that ranges from pizza to weekend brunch.”

At the Rising Sons counter a few years back

The building once housed the famous Guy and Company printers, who at one time printed all the cheque books in Ireland. “We shall soon be brewing a pils in memory of those who worked on this site; without any sense of irony it shall be called Bouncing Czech.” Haven’t seen that beer around though! They’ve some good names, a few with local connections such as Mi Daza and Sunbeam.

They say: All our beers are brewed in-house and are chemical and additive free. We brew small batches with the best of locally sourced ingredients (where available). And because they are brewed on-site, ( less than 10 feet away) and mostly consumed, within a square mile of the brewery, we can guarantee quality, consistency and only the freshest of beer. We bring creativity, passion and a dash of rock n roll, leading to extraordinary flavours in our sessionable beers.

The Changeling was voted best pale ale in the world up to 5% at the International beer challenge in 2018. The seasonal special Dreamcatcher won a world’s best at the World Beer Awards in 2019. Quite a vote of confidence for the crew in Rising Sons.

Poor Relation photo

Rising Sons Changeling 5K Pale Ale Special Edition 4.3%, 440ml can Poor Relation Cork

This American style pale ale has a gold/amber colour, lots of bubbles. White head fades quickly enough, no harm done though. Citrusy aromas and citrus too on the moderately hoppy plate, herbal notes too. Good balance. Nice bit of flavour and good dry finish. Very pleasant, very drinkable indeed and certainly sessionable.

They say: Voted best ale in the world up to 5% in 2018 at The International Beer Challenge. Hopped with Cascade and Mandarina Bavaria. Notes of orange, grapefruit and honey.

Rising Sons Dreamcatcher IPA 5.0%, 440ml can The Hatch at The Poor Relation

This Dreamcatcher IPA was voted World’s Best Golden Ale at The World Beer Awards in August 2019.

Colour is a deep golden amber. Fruity on the nose, apricot with some sweetness there too. Lovely harmony on the palate, hoppy enough but nothing extreme, could well be a gateway beer for those moving from mainstream as well as a satisfying drop for the more craft experienced. The latter will also be happy with the finish. 

Both Changeling and the Dreamcatcher IPA are the first of their beers to be canned and that has happened within the last few months. Oddly enough, there are no details of the excellent Dreamcatcher on their website.

* Pronounced kay (as in okay boy!).

Monday, March 1, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #37. Moving on over to craft with Euro-style Lagers!

A Quart of Ale± #37

Moving on over to craft with Euro Lagers!

Augustiner Edelstoff Münchner Bier (GAA), 5.6%, 500ml bottle via Bradleys

Put this in a tall slim glass as recommended and you get a head that looks like a fluffy ice-cream and below that a myriad little bubbles race upwards in the light gold liquid. Its attractiveness is enhanced by a hint of exotic fruit aromas. And that sweet fruit also pops up briefly on the palate but soon the hops have their say as this satisfying beer heads towards a full and persistent finish. Love the mouthfeel, the smooth full body and the flavour. No wonder this historic brewery (founded 1328) is a name well-known far beyond Bavaria and Germany. 

Serve at 5 - 7 ° C  and you’ll find it goes well with typical Bavarian dishes, such as white sausage with sweet mustard or with roast pork with sauerkraut. Its mildly bitter taste makes it a perfect beer for the sunny outdoors and can also be drunk with many other dishes.

It is said that the Augustiner Bräu is the oldest Munich brewery. Originally founded (1328) by an ecclesiastical order, it was privatised in 1829. The good quality of the historical recipes was retained and this has given the brewery a terrific base. Traditionally brewed according to the German Purity Law, as you’d expect, Augustiner Edelstoff is praised as one of the best beers from Bavaria.

Yellowbelly Kellerbier Lager 4.3%, 440ml can Ardkeen Store

A bit puzzled from the start with this one! They say: “A core beer, available all year round. A lager for lovers of good beer. Kellerbier (Cellar Beer) is a German style Lager that has not been conditioned to same extent as other lagers. The resulting beer is naturally cloudy with a rounder full bodied mouthfeel.”

Despite that description and the word “unfiltered” on the can, mine pours as clear as could be, a lovely bright amber with shoals of bubbles rising to the top. It is smooth, with that full bodied mouthfeel that they mention above, easy-drinking with a lip-smacking finish and a touch of sweetness. Cloudy or not (and this one is certainly clear), it is a damn good craft lager. 

Malts are listed, on the can, as Pilsner, Wheat, Munich, Cara Clair while hops used are Huell Melon and Hersbrucker.

Eight Degrees Bohemian Pilsner Lager 4.0%, 400 can

Colour is a pale, but bright, gold, with a mere disc of a head that persists. Hops influence the floral aromas. And a promise of refreshment from the first sip. And no shortage of flavour either as this light and crisp beer spreads smoothly, in fulfilment of the initial promise, across the palate and persists until the satisfying finale. Bitterness enough to keep the balance. A good one and sessionable!

They say: Treat as an aperitif, amazing with pizza and don’t miss trying it with Thai or Vietnamese food. A crisp and adventurous drop, just perfect for a chilled out session. Bliss!

Some Details:

Style: Pilsner lager
Malt: Two row base Irish malt.
Hops: Hallertau, Hersbrucker, Lublin.
Strength: 4% ABV
Bitterness: 33 IBUs

St Mel’s Classic Range Helles Lager 5%, 500ml bottle via St Mel’s online

Cloudy amber is the colour here, gazillions of little bubbles shoot up into an attractive white fluffy head that’s in no big hurry to depart. This is bottle conditioned and dry hopped. 

Brewers Liam and Eoin have come up with a great result here, smooth, and balanced well between the malt and hops, with the bitterness nicely judged. One of the best flavoured lagers around, good mouthfeel too. Moreish is a word the brewery uses and I would certainly agree. Put this on your lager shortlist!

They say: Lagered for 4 weeks in the tanks and re-fermented in the bottle using a second strain of yeast. St. Patrick's nephew, Mel, helped spread knowledge and learning through the Irish Midlands in the 5th Century AD. St. Mel's brewing company is an independent artisan brewery, whose mission is to brew the highest quality beers from the best possible ingredients, combining innovation, passion and tradition. We hope you enjoy this bottle and, if you haven't already, convert to craft beer.

Food pairing tips: Perfect companion to big brash flavours of chilli, Indian cuisine or ribs. It also works great with Swiss cheese or a cheeky Battered Sausage and Chips.

* Top pic via Pixabay

Previously in A Quart of Ale±

A Quart of Ale± #37.  Moving on over to craft with Euro-style Lagers!

A Quart of Ale #36 a quartet of Pale Ales. Blacks. Crafty. Dungarvan. Rascals.

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

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

Monday, February 22, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #36. Moving on over to craft with a quartet of Pale Ales. Blacks. Crafty. Dungarvan. Rascals.

A Quart of Ale± #36

Moving on over to craft with a quartet of Pale Ales.  

Blacks Kinsale KPA Pale Ale 5.0%, 500ml bottle via O’Donovan’s Mayfield

A mid gold with unceasing fountains of bubbles rising are what you see when you pour a bottle of Black’s Kinsale Pale Ale. Flavours are masterfully balanced here with both the hops and the malt getting a chance to shine. But I knew all this as the Kinsale KPA has been a favourite of mine since the start.

In the first quarter of 2020, I enjoyed a pint (or two) at the Celtic Ross….

I was sipping a Blacks Brewery KPA in the bar at the Celtic Ross Hotel the other night. It is one of my favourite ales. Blacks usually get it right and they have had this spot on from the beginning. It is consistently excellent, the perfect balance.

And it is that balance between malt and hops the I find attractive. Some brewers go too heavy on the malt for their pale ales but this recipe allows the hops, a mix of Centennial, Cascade and Citra, to shine through, with the grapefruit and lime and other citrus elements, while the malt too plays its part not least in giving a delicious mouthfeel. And there’s a good crisp finish there as well.

This 5% American style ale is indeed perfectly balanced just like the guy from the band who is putting in a very athletic solo display of Irish dancing on the bar floor. Don’t think I’d ever had that kind of timing and balance - I've always preferred a different kind of tap. By the way, will we all be dancing solo for the months ahead?

That was written last March…back to the present now. Going by that last sentence above, perhaps I should take up prophesy. Maybe I’ll just repeat it for the months ahead in 2021! And hope I’m wrong.

They say: An American style Pale Ale bursting with hoppy tropical and juicy citrus fruit flavours, masterfully fused with biscuit and caramel malt aromas to produce a fantastic taste sensation. Medium in body with perfect carbonation, this beer will zip around your mouth reaching a beautiful clean finish.

American Pale Ale - Top Fermented

Centennial, Cascade, Citra

2013 release

Pair with: Burgers, Steaks, BBQ Meats

Crafty Hopster Brewing “All Hail” Pale Ale 4.0%, 330ml can via Ardkeen QFS 

A small can with a big fluffy head that lasts a fair bit, over a hazy mid-amber body well populated with micro-bubbles. Citrus aromas prominent - it is packed with Citra hops. No shortage of hoppy citrus-y flavours on the juicy palate either, with a balancing malty presence entwined. And there’s a lip-smacking finish as well. The malt, by the way, was grown locally in the Hook Peninsula (Wexford), a terrific place to visit.

They say: It is great with pizza, great with burgers, and let's be honest, pretty great with just about anything! Brewed and canned in Waterford for Crafty Brewing Waterford.

Dungarvan “Main Sail” Pale Ale <0.5%, 500ml bottle via Bradley’s

Dungarvan’s “Main Sail” is a light gold, plenty of bubbles rising. The white fluffy head quickly reduces to a thin disc. Hoppy aromas and a fair old hoppy punch too on the fruity palate, the citrus you’ve met in the aromas again resident here. No alcohol but still Ireland’s first non alcoholic ale has quite a bit of character, both in the mouth and through the finish. Ireland’s first micro-brewed alcohol free beer and one of the better ones. Was a favourite here Christmas 2019 and repeated the trick (smaller audience though) in 2020.

They say: This beer has been developed to give a refreshing hoppy flavour without the alcohol content. Coming in at 0.4% abv it is defined as an alcohol free product and can be enjoyed in place of a regular beer. Plenty of hops give a lively, refreshing citrus and herbal flavour to this light bodied pale ale.

Beer Info:

Style: Pale Ale

ABV: <0.5%

Hops: Amarillo, Challenger

Malts: Munich, Caramalt, Crystal Malt, Cararoma

Allergens: Contains Barley

And where did the name come from? From the Pogues’ “When The Ship Comes in”

Rascals “Fruitropolis” Pale Ale, 4.3%, 330 can via Bradleys

Light gold is the colour of this Pale Ale from Dublin’s Rascals who love their fruity ales, with a head that puffs up clean and white, looks attractive for a mo, and then vanishes like the air from a punctured balloon. No worries though. What’s left behind in the glass is excellent, unless you’re a dedicated hophead. Tropical, zingy and fresh, is the web banner for this and they are telling the truth! More exotic fruits than you can shake a lei at. Say Aloha and let the moment linger as the waves wash that distant shore.

So lots of fruit (orange zest and tropical fruit purées are adjuncts here) but it also has a refreshing dry finish as this little beer is pretty well balanced. 

For the Geek!

Malt: Pale, Crystal, Wheat.

Hops: Magnum, Amarillo, El Dorado, Mandarina Bavaria.

Yeast: WLP001

Other: Orange Zest, Tropical Fruit Purees.

ABV: 4.3%

Unfiltered. Unpasteurised. Keep Cool. Drink Fresh.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

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

A Quart of Ale± #34

Moving on over to craft with a session of lagers.  

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

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

This lager, from my local, has a mid-amber colour, fountains of little bubbles, white head slims down rapidly but then hangs around for a good spell. A modest touch of hops in the aromas. The refreshment factor immediately appears on the smooth palate, spot on balance between the German hops and malts. Has more character going for it than many lagers, good mouthfeel too. A thirst cutting clean bitterness rounds off an excellent lager experience.

They say: This Pilsner Lager, like the Noble Northsider’s adventures, spans the Atlantic, brewed using 100% Irish malted barley, clean bittered with three U.S. grown hops followed by a late kettle addition of Noble Hops (Hallertau Perle and Hersbrucker). Pour is clean and refreshing with a subtle aromatic hop flavour arising from a bed of light caramel malt. The Classic brew to compliment party food. This inviting pilsner goes down smoothly with gourmet burgers, pizzas or wings. A perfect hit at BBQs a great choice for alfresco dining.

And the northsider they refer to on the label is Humphrey Lynch, who left Ballyvourney at 15 years of age and settled in an American town known as Byefield which he later used in naming his Cork estate house. After working for two years with Joseph Longfellow, cousin to the famous poet, he worked for a year in the ship yard at Newburyport until the American civil war in which he fought in a string of “engagements”. He returned to his native Cork in 1874 and set up in Mayfield, calling his newly-purchased public house The Cotton Ball. And the Lynch family are still here today, the brewery one of the latest additions to the family’s businesses.

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

Pilgrims, with some of its companions from the  #IRISHMUNROSeries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previously in A Quart of Ale±

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

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