Showing posts with label lager. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lager. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #29. Craft Lager, a superb quartet from Wicklow Wolf, Kinnegar, Mescan and Lineman

CorkBillyBeers #29

Craft Lager, a superb quartet from Wicklow Wolf, Kinnegar, Mescan and Lineman


Wicklow Wolf Running With Wolves India Pale Lager, 5.6%, 440ml can

Just like Kinnegar below, Wicklow Wolf are claiming this is a “modern style” lager. It  is brewed in collaboration with Bristol brewery Lost and Grounded and this India Pale Lager is dry hopped with Idaho 7 and Huell Melon to create “a savagely refreshing modern style lager”.

Wicklow tells us, that for the collaboration with their friends Lost and Grounded Brewers, “we took inspiration from their delicious Running with Sceptres, we brewed a single decoction India Pale Lager.”

Yeast used in this hybrid is an interesting one. It is the Hoppin Pils lager yeast that is targeted towards IPL styles and/or dry hopped lagers (as here) and  is commonly used for the brewing of Bock, German lagers, Kolsch, lagers and pilsners

Colour is a light gold (not quite one hundred per cent clear) and there are aromas of biscuity malt, apricot and a citrus sweetness. On the palate, no shortage of flavour as the malts and hops get together to make it a balanced experience right through to the satisfactory finalé.

This single decoction India Pale Lager is Very Highly Recommended..


Kinnegar #30 Unfiltered Hoppy Lager 4.6%, 440ml can Bradleys

Colour of this unfiltered hoppy lager from the Kinnegar Brewers at Play series is a "foggy" gold. The first impression on the palate is one of refreshment, just like a lager should be. But, reinforced by “a contemporary hop profile”, this has a bit more going for it and should be welcome as the temperatures stay high in the days ahead.

Indeed, the brewers say they made it “to herald the arrival of a warmer beer-drinking season”. I notice they don’t mention summer!

The Brewers at Play series is designed to keep Kinnegar brewers on their toes and their customers on tenterhooks. It is No. 30 in the series which has come up with some gems. This is another one, a superb lager with excellent flavour and that high refreshment factor.

Lagers, they say, are among the most challenging - “and are amongst our favourite beers to brew”. I reckon it was well worth the effort on this occasion.

Very Highly Recommended.


Mescan Seven Virtues Lager 4.8%, 330 ml bottle

Last Spring (April) in the Mescan brewery, on a farm in the shadow of Croagh Patrick, we started a tasting with brewery co-founder Cillian Ó Móráin with a shared bottle of this lager. After a long enough drive from Cork, it proved remarkably refreshing and made me wonder why so few lagers reach this level of quality.

This may be the answer. At that tasting, Cillian explained that his beers take a minimum of 4 months with the heavy ones getting 6-8 months whereas your normal craft beer takes just a few weeks from start to counter (can vary from brewer to brewer). While the extra time makes the Mescan more expensive, Cillian reckons it is very important for the quality of the beer. And it is indeed a premium product as that little tasting and this more recent full bottle illustrated.

It has the nice golden lager colour and billions of bubbles rising to the soft white head. A bit of citrus and grass (not that grass!) in the aromas. On the palate, it is a bit more than your usual lager - it is after all dry-hopped. But it is crisp and refreshing, easy-drinking. Well worth a try!

They say: Virtues lager was the first in a series of one-off brews. Crisp and slightly dry hopped, a nod in the direction of both tradition and innovation.  Serving Temp 2 - 4 °C. 

Note that serving temperature, somewhat lower than usual.

Mescan always pay attention to matching their beers with food and even invented the Mescan Food-Pairing Wheel, designed to take the angst out of matching beer and food. It’s an easy way to pair each Mescan craft beer with the foods that complement it. It’s available on the website and is easily printable in a pdf format. It was a useful resource for all the home chefs who explored new options in their kitchens during the pandemic.

Check  here to see what goes with this lager. 

Very Highly Recommended


Lineman Undertone Dark Lager, 4.5% ABV, 440ml can Bradleys

Came across this dark gem first at the Franciscan Well Easter Festival on the North Mall and was immediately smitten, so obviously that the kind lady at the Lineman stand generously topped me up, with a smile. It was a sunny day. No sun as I write but I’m still smiling with my dark Czech lager.

Dark ruby is the colour of this one with a soft tan colour head on top. Chocolate and caramel feature in the aromas. And the flavours give it away - it is a malty lager, underneath the toast-bready, caramel-y camouflage.

A smooth Bohemian style dark lager that delivers delicious toast, chocolate and caramel notes. Unpasteurised, unfiltered, serve chilled. Drink fresh. Suitable for vegans.  All that info on the label.

And quite a refreshing lager. The smooth flavours develop as a result of the use of Munich malts and extended cold fermentation and conditioning. And also a more expressive lager yeast strain that adds its own character.

They say: This unfiltered lager is given plenty of time to condition over the 8 weeks in tank prior to packaging. It's one of our absolute favourites. It's a labour of love.

Yes, Lineman (and me) are fans of Czech darks and dunkels. “Rounder and less roasty than a schwarzbier. Toasty, bread crust, and caramel. Freshly packaged UNDERTONE is making a return with a new look, but still a delicious 4.5% beer to enjoy. We've given the label a makeover and we've tweaked the recipe just a tad. This unfiltered lager is given plenty of time to condition over the 8 weeks in tank prior to packaging."

Used to be 4.2% but the new 4.5% keeps it in the sessional category.

Very Highly Recommended. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #64 On the craft journey with a session of Hope, Black's, Tom Crean and Rye River's Grafters

A Quart of Ale± #64

On the craft journey with a session with Rye River, Tom Crean, Hope and Blacks 

Rye River Grafters Working Day IPA, 6.5%, 440 can Dunnes Stores

This 2020 Blas na hEireann Gold Medal winner comes in a gold colour with hints of amber. A bit on the cloudy side but you can’t miss all those bubbles rising. Citrus in the aromas and also in the mouth. More fruity and bitter than malty and sweet and also making an impression that is more alcoholic than the 6.50%.

They say: Big, bold and tasty, this American style IPA is full-on flavour, delivering a big hit of juicy, citrus fruits. Perfect to accompany a spicy Indian or Mexican dish. Great with salads too.

Rye River are the brewers here and they make exclusive beers for some of Ireland’s biggest retailers including Lidl (the Crafty range), Tesco and Dunnes… “We’ve no plans to stop growing.” Grafters is one of their brands.

Geeks Bits

Malts: Wheat, Pale Wheat, Torrified Oats.

Hops: Columbus, Ekuanot and Mosaic.

Just wonder who is the guy on the label. He looks familiar.

Rye River Grafters Clocking Off Kölsch Style, 5.0%, 440 can Dunnes Store

Zillions of bubbles race through the slightly hazy gold to the top where a soft foamy head slowly shrinks.   Citrus notes, plus a hint of honey, in the aromas and that continues on the palate where an orange bitterness comes into play as well; no shortage of flavour yet nicely balanced, this World Beer Award winner is crisp and clean with the malt sweetness a factor. Excellent mouthfeel as well. The finish is moderately bitter. But drinkability is high - you want to repeat the experience. Very high quality indeed - a beer that’s top notch and definitely one for the short list.

Geek Bits

Malts: Carapils, Pilsner, Vienna.

Hops: Mandarin Bavaria, Tradition

Tom Crean St Bridget’s Irish Lager, 4.5%, 440 can Brewery Sale

During our brewery tour at Tom Crean’s in Kenmare, one of the first beers that Bill Sheppard mentioned was this lager named in honour of St Bridget who was a brewer. In fact he said quite a lot of the early brewers were women and the church wasn’t very happy with that situation. The brewers wore a special hat for the trade and kept a cat (to protect the grain from mice) and that eventually led to some of them being called witches with dire consequences.

Bill also told us that the Celts would go to war for a good brewer and I was wondering to myself if perhaps Bridget and St Patrick’s right hand man and brewer Mescan knew one another! My Mayo mother was called after the saint. Cheers Bridgie!

Lager of course ties up your brewing kit for longer than ale and maybe that was why there was a shortage of lager from the current wave of craft breweries in the early stages. No shortage now though.

A lovely golden colour on this one, bubbles galore and the bubbly head is not retained for very long. Good balance of hops (Slovenia) and malt (German) on the palate with the malt getting an edge on the finale. Not quite the “cut” that you’d expect from your normal modern lager. Bill has his own methods - take that tour! - and this is a very satisfying lager indeed that reminds me of the traditional Central European style.

They say:  We allow six weeks to bring this classic to perfection. St. Bridget, known in Ireland for her saintly status, her feast day (1st Feb) and her cross made from reeds, is less well known for being a fine Irish brewer.

Hope Pass If You Can Pale Ale, 4.6%, 440 can Dunnes Stores

A bubbly gold ale invites you to “try me”. While its head doesn’t hang about, its pleasure does. It is billed as a classic American style Pale Ale, a pretty wide definition. You‘ll note the citrusy aromas. The hop element of pale ale can vary a lot and this comes in that bit down the scale, certainly much less of a hoppy kick than an IPA. 

The producers describe it as an easy drinking malty and slightly fruity pale ale with a subtle hip kick. I’d go along with that. If you’ve been drinking craft lagers, then this could well be your next step! Worth a try for sure.

It is well balanced; the expressive malt and hop flavours complement one another. It is also an all rounder at the table (indoors or out) and chicken, prawns, BBQs and pizzas are among those pairings recommended.

Pass If You Can was the dare of Michael Collier, a notorious 19th century highwayman, who was North County Dublin’s answer to Robin Hood. He was so successful that his townland was dubbed Passifyoucan. Finally arrested in 1807, in his favourite haunt The Cock, he was transported and returned home only to die of cholera! Still, the name remains.

Geek Bits

Hops: Magnum, Mosaic, Citra,

Yeast: US-05

Malts: Pale Ale, CaraHell, Munich, Acidulated.

Blacks Golden Ticket Pineapple DIPA 8.2%, 440 can

The intensity of this IPA introduces itself the second you pull the tab. Take it easy is the message as the aromas surge upwards.  Colour is a hazy orange, not easy to see the bubbles though there are herds of them. The head, starts at about the 3-finger mark, but soon it thins to skin thickness (or thinness).

So back to those strong aromas, featuring pineapple of course. A lot going on here, even a hint or two of pine (the evergreen). And flavour?  Pineapple for sure, “super prevalent” as they say themselves, apricot too and citrus-y elements as well. 

Quite a punch, yet the alcoholic power is well reined in here, no all-enveloping black hole where everything is so concentrated that you don’t recognise anything. Iron fist in a velvet glove comes to mind. Just keep it in mind, respect the power, proceed with caution and a great deal of pleasure. Less caution = less pleasure.

They say: Amazingly fruity scrumdiddlyumptious Pineapple Double IPA. Packed with honey malt, Citra, Mosiac, Azaccea and El Dorardo hops! IBU = 90.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #51. On the craft journey with lager

A Quart of Ale± #51

Galway Hooker

On the craft journey with lager from Western Herd, Augustiner, Porterhouse and Galway Hooker, a pretty decent crew!

Western Herd "Loop Head" Pilsner 4.5%, 440ml can Bradleys

My first close encounter with a Clareman wasn’t promising. It was during the 1963 Harty Cup final. I’d just come on as an early sub and the foxy fecker at full back said: “First ball that comes in, I’ll split you open.” The Ennis CBS guy didn’t know that his 16 year opponent had been learning the tricks in Junior B hurling around East Cork and we (St Finbarr’s), having beaten Flannan’s (a Clare-Tipp amalgam) in the semi-final, went to to win.

No looking back in anger. I love Clare, its people, its cliffs, its caves, its Burren, its food, and for the last two years or so, its beers, particularly those made by Western Herd.

Their website says this Loop Head Pilsner is crystal clear. It’s not. Not as dense as Loop Head on a foggy day, but certainly not clear. Plenty of bubbles rising through the murky light gold to a quickly thinning head. Yeast and malt on the slightly sour nose for sure. After that, the anticipated crisp clean Pilsner style comes through and we’ve got a central European lager, a pretty serious one, to enjoy from the west coast of Ireland. 

And that was their plan all along, based on “a single malt and simple hop bill”. Hops were Saaz and Perle, the malt Pilsner, with a Lager yeast of course.

Pilsner is one of the main styles of European lager. But what exactly is it? Pilsner is a pale lager named after the Czech city of Pilsen from where it originated. This bright golden beer is typically crystal clear with a large amount of foam. Saaz hops are a must for this style offering a spiciness to the beer resulting in some earthy, floral, crisp flavours. A refreshing Pilsner is always a popular choice.

They say: The lager is named after the Loop Head lighthouse which has been guiding merchant ships along the west coast for a long time with vital shipments safely reaching the beer fans of Clare via this old maritime route.

Loop Head on a foggy day

These days, beer is shipped out of the county too. Like this crisp, dry Pilsner you’re holding. Enjoy its slightly fruity finish and think of the fresh crush of the Atlantic waves the Loop Head lighthouse watches over.

My last visit to Clare was disrupted by another foxy fellow,  called Trump and, having followed many and long detours, by the time I arrived at Loop Head, the fog had set in. I would have had been better employed had I decided to sample the beers of Western Herd in McHughs in Ennis or in Flanagan’s of Lahinch. Now, that’s a tip for you. I didn’t get to the bars, didn’t know about them then, but I did find the beers in a few restaurants and was impressed as I am with this pretty serious Pilsner. So if you’re toasting County Clare, put a Western Herd in your glass and enjoy.

Augustiner Maximator Starkbier Doppelbock, 7.5%, 500ml bottle via Bradleys

It’s the “Max” and it’s got a dark amber robe; tall, dark and handsome could well describe this Dopplebock from a monastery brewery. There’s a soft bubbly head that slowly, quite slowly, sinks down to the liquid mass.

The aromas are complex: figgy sweet, caramel and herbal notes too in the melange. And it continues dark and sweet (balanced) on the palate, from first sip until the swallow, smooth and intense, the malt a delicious factor, the alcohol also a pleasant factor in the unusual experience. Not your normal lager but one well worth trying.

They recommend it as “perfect for celebratory occasions during the colder parts of the year”.

No wonder the malt is key here. Augustiner is one of the few breweries in the world “that has a considerable output to operate its own floor maltings”. The maltings in the cellar of the brewery building are probably the largest in the world. Here, the grains are spread out in thin layers on special Solnhofer stone slabs on the floor and continuously turned mechanically. Although this process is highly labour intensive, the malt produced is of the highest quality. As is the beer.

Check A Quart of Ale± #37 for details on another Augustiner beer, the Edelstoff.

Porterhouse Pilsner, 5%, 500ml bottle via Bradleys

This lager in amber, with a soft white top, comes from a proud Porterhouse. “Fear no more, Porterhouse Pilsner is here.”

The depth of malt (Lager Malt, Cara Malt, Vienna Male, Munich Malt) shows up in the aromas and then paces smoothly across the classic palate where its got active company from a posse of hops (Galena, Nugget, Hallertau Hersbrucker, Hallertau Perle). An irresistible double act.

Amber? Yes. But you don’t have to a gambler to land on the jackpot here. And when you do, you’ve got strong reliable company for a seriously good session. Cheers.

Galway Hooker Amber Lager, 4.3%, 500ml bottle O’Donovan’s

It’s a gorgeous amber, clear with fountains of bubbles rising up towards a slowly sinking white head. A taste (a fingertip dip) of the foam tells me its dry, with hops and malt in harmony. And so it is. Very well balanced indeed with a refreshing edge to cut and a good finish as well, clean, crisp. Perhaps the best of the three core Galway beers tasted recently.

It is close to the Vienna style, very close, smooth with a good nutty malt flavours and with just sufficient bitterness on the palate; it is full bodied and fits into the session category too. And if the session calls for some food, then spicy foods, chicken, pizza are recommended.

They say: We are an independent artisan brewery based in the west of Ireland dedicated to the production of high quality, natural and full flavoured beers. All of our beers are craft brewed by combining the finest ingredients with traditional brewing techniques. The result is a beer that has received numerous awards, including being twice named as Ireland’s Best Beer.

We consider beer to be like any other food: the fresher and less processed the better. Our beers are therefore devoid of any preservatives and are brewed using only malt, hops yeast and water. We are passionate about producing exciting and innovative beers that are bursting with flavour and character. Galway Hooker was the first permanent pale ale to be produced in Ireland and is widely regarded as a leading light in the Irish craft beer sector. It has now firmly established itself as a favourite amongst beer enthusiasts. Our flagship beer, Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale, is available nationwide in both bottle and draught.

The brewery was established in 2006 by two first cousins, Aidan Murphy and Ronan Brennan. Aidan has over ten years experience in the brewing industry and has worked in several breweries around the world. He also holds a master’s degree in Brewing and Distilling. Ronan takes care of all their customers. Their flagship beer, Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale, is available nationwide in both bottle and draught.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #43 On the craft journey. Illustrating German Lagers.

A Quart of Ale± #43

On the craft journey. Illustrating German Lagers.

Veltins Grevensteiner Naturtrübes Helles, 5.2%, 500ml bottle via Bradleys

Pale gold is the colour of this Helles, a lager associated with the Munich area.  Head is very short-lived (they claim a “stable” head but not from this bottle) and the effervescence is barely noticeable - it is unfiltered. Aromas are mild and malty. This rather lightweight Helles is fruity and fresh on the palate, well-balanced and easy-drinking, a pleasing but hardly outstanding quaffer.

The Helles (which means pale) is a cool, refreshing, everyday beer that pairs well with salads, shrimp, or fish. Like the Dunkel, Munich Helles usually falls in the range of 4%- to 6% ABV, making it a nice session beer for a warm day.

They say: Brothers Carl and Anton Veltins brewed an enjoyable light Grevensteiner for special occasions - mild, light to drink and, as was customary at the time, naturally cloudy. With its fruity and fresh note and a fine malt aroma, Grevensteiner Hell is harmoniously rounded off in taste.

The history of the Veltins goes back close to 200 years and quite a few Germany brewers go back further than that. Some of these breweries are quite large now. 

What of craft beer in the country? According to the latest World Atlas of Beer “the notion of craft beer has arrived and is fair buzzing in Berlin and Hamburg, but elsewhere such beers are thinner on the ground.” It seems the vast majority of German brewers, both big and small, continue to make reliable, local versions of familiar styles. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Klosterbrau Weißenohe Glocken Hell, 5.0%, 500ml bottle via Bradleys

Poured this into a tall-ish glass (Metalman) at quite a rate and got myself a good head, three-fingers, as a result. Millions of bubbles rise rapidly through the clear amber liquid. Floral and slightly spicy notes from the aromas. Elegant and finely spicy on the palate, a touch of malty sweetness too and, of course, no shortage of refreshment.

Just the job at the end of the day! When the evening bell tolls, have a pint. Was reading the label, with the help of Google translate. 

“Then as now, the sound of the Weissenoher church tower not only announces moments of prayer and contemplation. It also determines the mundane daily rhythm. … One of the nicest moments of the day is surely the end of the day. Ring in your evening with our Glocken Hell.”

From a Benedictine cloister to a cloister brewery – that was just a small step to take for the friars of Weißenohe. The Kloster Brewery was founded around 1050. According to the Beer Handbook, it has three beers that you should look out for. One is the signature Altfränkisch Klosterbier, the second is Eucharius Märzan and the third is Bonator Dopplebock (pretty sure I have that in my queue). 

Rothaus Märzen, 5.6%, 500ml bottle via Bradley

Give this German a robust pour and you’ll get a decent white head that hangs around for a spell. The important bit comes after that, the light gold body and the zillions of micro-bubbles in the ever-rising fountains. Herbs crowd the aromas, nothing too intense. The smooth body is more malt (rich and bready) than hops with a fruit input in between and a mild tartness. Quite a balanced beer actually, easy drinking, an enjoyable companion at either lunch or dinner.

So where did Marzen come from? Beers of this type of brewing are traditionally more heavily brewed, as brewing was only allowed in the months from September to April. A beer with a longer shelf life was thus produced in March, which also survived the five months without a brewing process and was produced just in time for Octoberfest.

According to the Beer Connoisseur, the Märzen style is a malty, amber, European-style lager that can trace the roots of its modern variants all the way back to 1841, when Spaten created the first recipe for the style. Märzen become the official beer of Munich’s Oktoberfest in 1872, a tradition that lasted over 100 years when it was replaced by the lighter-bodied, golden-colored Festbier in the 1990 Oktoberfest. Yet many Oktoberfest beers are still technically Märzens.

It is a full-bodied, luscious beer with the unique barley malt from southern Germany bolstering its character. Fresh brewing water as well as the famous hops from Tettnang and the Hallertau make the taste experience more or less perfect. So well done to the Rothaus master brewers who have produced a top class beer that has been a favourite for decades.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen, 5.1%, 500ml bottle via Bradleys

This original smoked beer, now regarded as a classic, has been Bamberg's specialty for centuries. A dark bottom fermented lager beer, brewed with 100% smoked malt from the Schlenkerla maltings.

Black is the colour with a soft cream/coffee coloured head that stays around for a spell. Must admit I’d been expecting to find the smoke in the aromas but is is much more striking in the flavours, a kind of unrelenting smoky bacon. A dark bottom-fermented lager beer, brewed with 100% smoked malt from the Schlenkerla maltings. The brewery is also a maltster.

The Story: Schlenkerla smoked malt is kilned directly over an open wood fire. The smoke from this fire penetrates the malt and gives it its unique smoky flavour. Until the invention of modern malting systems in the 17th and 18th century with heat exchangers running on coal, oil or gas, smoke kilns were THE standard. As the new industrial form of malting was much more cost efficient, the smoke kilns everywhere were closed down. Not so at Schlenkerla!

Indeed,  Slow Food® has made Schlenkerla Rauchbier a passenger in its “Ark of Taste”.

Kegworks say Rauchbier will generally have a light copper to dark brown colour with an ABV of around 5-6%. The aroma and taste will have a combination of smokey and malty flavours to it.

Bamberg is, surprisingly, one of the top brewing cities in Germany, synonymous with Rauchbier. Beer FAQ says our Rauchbier is the one with which most been enthusiasts worldwide are familiar. “The brewery..traces production back to 1405…still taps the traditional brew from wooden barrels”. Sounds like a place to visit for sure. Don’t like smoky? Don’t worry they have a brewery here for every 8,000 people and you may sample multiple beer styles.

German lager types

“Pils” may be Germany’s most well-known lager. Aromatic, crisp and moderately bitter it is refreshing and a terrific session beer.

Maibock is the spring beer (Mai = May). Hops and malts get a turn here. Quite versatile at the table with pasta dishes, salmon, or shellfish recommended.

Märzen has traditionally been brewed in March to be enjoyed at festivals starting in September. Again, there’s usually a good balance between malts and hops and you can enjoy it at Oktobertfest with the schnitzel, brockwurst and game.

Helles can be easily found in Munich, its crisp finish similar to Pils. Cool and refreshing, this everyday beer goes well with salads, shrimp, or fish, an excellent session beer.

There are quite a few other types including Rauchbier (see the Schlenkerla above). And our own Whiplash have a terrific Black lager, appearing soon in The Quart. You'll also come across Kolsch which is a hybrid, meaning that its producers employ elements and techniques of both lager and ale.

How To Pour A German Lager From A Bottle*

1. Tilt the glass or stein at a 45 degree angle.

2. Place the tip of the bottle in the glass, and pour the beer quickly down the side.

3. Start to straighten the glass as the beer reaches the top to create a nice head of foam.

* from