Wednesday, March 8, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #14. Craft with super lagers by Whitefield, 9 White Deer, Galway Hooker, and Schlenkerla

CorkBillyBeers #14

Craft journey with super lagers by Whitefield, 9 White Deer, Galway Hooker, and Schlenkerla

Lager is the most popular beer in the world and there are quite a few variations. See bottom for brief details of German styles. There are more, especially in Czechia and Austria. We have a few styles here including Vienna, a German Rauchbier and also an organic Pilsner from Galway Hooker. All in all, these four make for a very enjoyable session!


Galway Hooker Organic Pilsner 4.1% ABV, 440ml can CraftCentral

“One of Ireland’s first organic beers, this is a light and refreshing lager with a crisp dry finish.”

Lets see! It comes in a clear gold colour, quite a head, white and foamy.  A slight hint of sweetness in the aromas and yes light and very refreshing indeed in the mouth followed by a snappy and satisfying finalé. You can taste why this smooth Pilsner, crafted from organic ingredients, inspired by their “ commitment to sustainability and artisan methods” is now one of their core beers. 

“Malt depth is often quite slight but can add complexity and a sweetness that enhances hop flavour,” declares author Mark Dredge, speaking of modern pilsner. Looks like Galway Hooker got it spot on here, even if the ABV and IBU are at the lower end of the respective scales. 

Lager is by far the most popular beer in the world; Pilsner is part of the family. Good to see more and more Irish brewers coming up with excellent examples though organic efforts are very rare. I know Denmark’s ToOl do one but can’t think of another Irish one.

Hooker talk the talk and walk the walk. “For every pint of Galway Hooker Organic Pilsner we pour we will make a donation to Hometree to offset the ecological impact of its production."

They use locally sourced water from the west of Ireland which contains an ideal balance of minerals for brewing. “All of our water passes through an activated carbon filter to ensure the purest quality and flavours in our beers.”

"The whole purpose of the brewing process is to make a food source for yeast to grow on. One of the by-products of this growth is alcohol. Because yeast is a living microorganism, it keeps regenerating itself every time we make a batch of beer. This means that we can harvest the yeast from one batch of beer and reuse it for the next batch. We have a special tank to store the yeast between batches.”

Check out their story here 

Very Highly Recommended.


Whitefield Jockey Hall Vienna Lager, 5.4% ABV, 500 ml bottle No. 21

Whitefield are well known for their European style beers, including lagers, and this Jockey Hall, with its smooth body and crisp finish, is one of them.

It also has the usual Vienna Lager amber colour, with a white head that sits around for a spell. The Vienna Malt, which accounts for the colour,  brings out a complex toastiness in the flavour and gentle hop character with a low fermentation temperature ensure a good crisp finish. Be ready to lick your lips after each sip. And there is no need to gulp, sips are fine thanks to the delicious flavours of this expertly crafted lager.

Very Highly Recommended.

In the summer of 1993, Cuilan Loughnane had a “road to Damascus" moment while sitting in one of Heathrow’s pubs one glorious summer's evening on a 4-hour stopover en-route to Vancouver: “I witnessed a bar maid performing a very unusual looking ritual, while trying to pour a beer into a glass. I witnessed it again 10 minutes later and again and again.

She was pulling a white ceramic lever with her left hand with what looked like a considerable amount of effort. As the lever arced downwards her entire upper body arched inwards towards the counter. In her right hand was a pint glass, which she was holding under a swan necked spout that was below the white lever. Into the glass was flowing some form of beer, strange looking stuff.”

His own curiosity led the young man to start asking questions, his first steps to becoming a craft brewer. More of the story of Whitefield (and Dwans and White Gypsy before that) here in a recent post.


9 White Deer Stag Kolsch 4.2% ABV, 500ml bottle

Ballyvourney brewery 9 White Deer presents this, their Kolsch style lager beer, with a bright and clear yellow/amber colour and white head. With its high carbonation level and gentle hop character, it is palate friendly with an almost creamy feel. Easy to quaff and easy to see how this refreshing beer has become one of their biggest selling beers.

Its reputation quickly grew from the brewery’s early days, thanks to the local water and guidance from a famous German brewmaster.  Soft is the operative word here as the water, from the Cork and Kerry mountains, is really soft, just perfect for lager style beers. 

And the guidance they got from Roland, then brewmaster of the well known Munich brewery Augustiner and still a friend of the Ballyvourney brewery, could not have been bettered. Kolsch and 9 White Deer were on their way, on their way to stay.

They are very happy with it: It has a gentle hop and malt character, a classic German style of beer brewed with German Noble Hops, Premium Irish and German Malt and German Yeast. Stag Kolsch gets an extended lagering time where it can develop and mature into this classic premium European style beer.

As a bonus, like all their beers, this is gluten free.

Very Highly Recommended.

Recent feature on 9 White Deer here


Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock, 6.5% ABV, 500 ml bottle Bradleys

“Liquid bacon fries.”

Bamburg is the home of smoked beer (Rauchbiers) and a pilgrimage for the style’s aficionados. Some of our Irish craft brewers have been to the German town and Kinnegar, Whiplash and Crew have made examples of the style. Limerick’s Crew described the “weird and wonderful” Bamburg drinks as liquid bacon fries.

And liquid bacon fries is quite close to summing up the aromas, even the palate, from this unusual lager. Colour is dark, not quite solid black (more like Coco Cola) and the head is tan. Aside from the bacon, there is smoke on the palate too but the malt, plus an acidity that cuts through, prevent the smoke element from dominating. Flavours of coffee and toffee on the smokey finish. Definitely on the maltier side, but it isn't sweet at all.

October to December is bockbeer time in Bamberg and at the Schlenkerla brewery. According to old tradition, as early as May the Original Schlenkerla Smokebeer - Urbock is being brewed. After the brew in classic copper kettles, it matures for months in the historic cellars underneath Stephansberg. Those are part of the tunnel system of Bamberg, which is more than 700 years old. As the temperature there is constantly at around 8°C they have been used by Bamberg brewers for centuries to mature and lager their beers. The Ur in Urbock, means fresh (as us Irish speakers well know!). Bock means various things: a goat, lust, or in our case a dark beer (lager).

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”.

Geeks Bits

Original gravity: 17.5 °p

Alcohol: 6.5%

Bitterness: 40

Ingredients: Water, barley malt, hops


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 Oktoberfest with the schnitzel, brockwurst and game.

Kolsch comes from the German city of Cologne (Köln). It is a light and refreshing ale-lager hybrid, hybrid because its producers employ elements and techniques of both lager and ale.  It is made with an ale yeast and cold finished like a lager.


Helles can be easily found iMunich, 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 and Kinnegar have have each made excellent Black lagers.

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 


press release


The third instalment in the Green Spot Wine Geese Series has been unveiled as a limited-edition single pot still Irish whiskey finished in Pinot Noir casks in a partnership with Quails’ Gate winery

Irish Distillers, makers of Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, has partnered with the Quails’ Gate winery in Canada to introduce the third instalment in the Green Spot Wine Geese Series, Green Spot Quails’ Gate. Joining permanent expressions Green Spot Château Leoville Barton and Green Spot Chateau Montelena, the series is a celebration of Ireland’s historic contribution to the wine world, as tribute to the group of Irish families known as ‘The Wine Geese’ who left Ireland and set up wineries across the globe.

Finished in Pinot Noir casks, Green Spot Quails’ Gate represents two stories of Irish endeavour from the two Irish families who inspired this special edition whiskey. Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey was originally produced exclusively for the Mitchell family, who commenced trading in 1805 in the heart of Dublin. This limited-edition expression reflects the colourful history of the Mitchell’s whiskey bonding business which commenced in 1887, whereby they sent empty wine, sherry and port casks to the local Jameson Distillery to be filled with new single pot still spirit for maturation in the Mitchell’s cellar warehouse. The wine influence added an exciting new dimension to this whiskey already renowned for its excellent quality, and it was at this point that Mitchell & Son developed a reputation for creating some of the finest single pot still Irish whiskey to be found in the Irish capital.

Located on the shore of Okanagan Lake in British Columbia, Canada, Quails’ Gate Winery was founded by the Stewart family in 1908 after Richard Stewart Sr immigrated to Canada from Kildare, Ireland. Today, they produce some of Canada’s most exquisite wines, including their award-winning Family Reserve Pinot Noir.  

For whiskey and wine lovers alike, whether a budding enthusiast or a sommelier in the making, Green Spot Quails’ Gate adds a wonderful wine twist on the exceptional single pot still whiskey. Initially matured in American oak and ex-sherry casks, the liquid was then finished for 16 months in Pinot Noir casks to impart a delicate red wine bouquet to the nose, with notes of ripe cherry and juicy raspberries. The residual soft tannins from the pinot noir give a silky sweet texture to the palate with notes of dried cranberries that work in harmony with Green Spot’s signature tastes of red apple, sweet pear, vanilla and nutmeg. The result is a unique and vibrant flavour reminiscent of the shimmering blues of the Okanagan Lake and the green fields of Ireland.

Deirdre O’Carroll, Blender at Irish Distillers, commented on the new release: “Green Spot, with its distinctive blend of green apple, vanilla and toffee flavours, has been a beloved Irish whiskey since the 19th century, thanks to the Mitchell family.”

"Maturing Green Spot Irish Whiskey in the Pinot Noir casks from Quails’ Gate adds a fascinating and delectable assortment of rich red berries from the red wine seasoning that perfectly balances Green Spot’s orchard fruits and toasted wood finish for a flavoursome, complex expression. Whether a whiskey enthusiast or a wine connoisseur – or both – we hope this addition to the Spot family will be cherished by those in Ireland, Canada and everywhere in between."

Rowan Stewart, the winemaker at Quails' Gate winery, added: "The partnership between Spot Whiskeys and Quails’ Gate celebrates the best of both worlds: the deep roots of the whiskey tradition and our family tradition of winegrowing. Together, we have created an exciting collaboration that is both complex and memorable, honouring the legacy of both traditions.”

A non-chill filtered release bottled at 46% ABV, Green Spot Quails' Gate will be released from March 2023 in limited quantities in the US, Canada, Ireland, France, UK and Global Travel Retail at the RRP of €65, $70, £54.

Katherine Condon and Rowan Stewart

Gold Spot Quails’ Gate Tasting Notes

Nose: Vibrant oak fused with notes of ripe cherry and fresh, juicy raspberry, elevated by the wine seasoning. These aromas are in balance with Green Spot’s signature orchard fruits of apple and sweet pear. The earthy, woodland spices lend themselves to the deep and complex characteristics found interwoven amongst the sweet vanilla and red wine bouquet.
Taste: It begins with a silky and sweet mouthcoating texture, with the wine`s soft tannins gradually showing their presence. Notes of dried cranberries and red apple follow, adding to the ever-expanding array of fruits in this wonderfully complex whiskey. Clove spice and grated nutmeg work in balance with the succulent fruits, seasoned oak and crisp barley.

Finish: The toasted wood and pot still spices gently fade, with the fruits and red wine seasoning taking the final bow.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Pretty much everything about Mescan, the brewery on Ireland's holy mountain, is unique.

Pretty much everything about Mescan, the brewery on Ireland's holy mountain, is unique. 

There was a cousin (RIP) who went off every year, on the last Sunday in July, to do the reek, to climb Croagh Patrick. He got a lot of credit for it, even though he only ever got as far as the last pub. Then one year, the TV cameras turned up at that pub and the cousin was unmasked! He was happy with that pub but if he had known there would be a brewery on the holy slopes.... There is indeed one there now and it is called Mescan.

Pretty much everything about Mescan is unique

That's what co-founder and brewer Cillian Ó Móráin (above) told us when we asked what was unique about the brewery that stands on the lower slopes of Croagh Patrick, the country's Holy Mountain.

"Our outstanding USP, which is genuinely unique to Mescan, is the long maturation process with a minimum of 3 months (up to 9 months with the stronger beers), between brewing and packaging. This unhurried process allows time for the flavours to develop, much like maturing a wine. These long conditioning times make the beers more expensive to produce but add greatly to the quality. The resulting depth and range of flavour makes them particularly well suited to pairing with food."

"During our long conditioning process, the yeast settles out naturally, with no need to use finings for clarifying, and making the beers suitable for vegans. Simple, natural ingredients are used to create Mescan beers: spring water, barley, wheat, hops, yeast, spices and nothing else. Our beers are almost exclusively brewed in Belgian styles."

"Mescan Brewery was conceived and built by myself, Cillian Ó Móráin, and Bart Adons, while seeking a change from our frenetic lives as veterinary surgeons. We spent three years perfecting our original recipes, inspired by the beers of Belgium, Bart's homeland, before starting to brew commercially. I now manage the brewery myself, as Bart has stepped back to pursue other interests."
The Founders, Cillian (left) and Bart

Mescan was started in 2014. It was their first commercial year. We asked Cillian what are their core beers now and the list is:

Mescan Blond
Mescan Saison
Mescan Red Tripel 
Mescan Extra
Mescan Special Reserve 
Mescan Seven Virtues Lager.

An easy question. But the next proved more difficult! Which  is the favourite of the brewery team? 

"Well now, that’s not a straightforward question! When the weather is warm, there’s a thirst upon us and there’s a distinct possibility of more than one being imbibed, it’s definitely a thirst quenching Saison. However, if it’s been a long hard day at the brewery and the reward is one beer only, then we’ll opt for an Extra or Special Reserve for the flavour and the experience. It just depends on the mood – and that’s the great thing about Belgian beers, there’s one for every mood."

What’s your typical day like? No shortage of variety? 

A typical day for small craft brewer – what is that! I’m an early bird so I’m usually up at 6am and straight into a quick Qi Gong session. After that I spend a couple of hours doing admin and computer work with a cup of tea in hand. After breakfast I’ll head off to the brewery (a glorious drive along the coast by Croagh Patrick) to clean tanks, fill kegs or do the hundred other things a brewer needs to do. Of course brewing and bottling days are different, on those it’s straight into a long hard day at the brewery. Tough work but very satisfying."
Any new beers in the pipeline? 

We are always full of ideas and planning new beers. We hope to scale up one of our trial brews in the near future. 

Are you selling mainly in pubs or in off licences. Restaurants maybe? 

In our stronghold of Connaught, Mescan is widely available in all three, around the rest of the country it’s mainly through off licences. 

Tell me about one time when things went wrong. How did you learn from that failure?  

Things certainly do go wrong, that’s the nature of brewing. Particularly early in my careers as both veterinary surgeon and a brewer, I’m sure I’ve made every mistake it’s possible to make. The biggest learning for me has been that almost everything can be solved with an objective attitude and a calm approach. Experience is a hard master but a great teacher. The trick is to learn from those mistakes and move on.

How do you choose which styles of beer to brew? 

We take a very simple approach - we brew beer styles that we like drinking. We’re not interested in following trends, we like beers with complexity and balance and we brew in the style of other beers we admire. 

How is your beer/brewery connected to the local area? 

Mescan is literally steeped in the local area. Named after Mescan the monk, who was St. Patrick's friend and personal brewer, the brewery is located in the foothills of Croagh Patrick in County Mayo. 

Water. Hard or soft? Is there much adjusting involved? 

One of the advantages of our location is that our water comes from deep underneath Croagh Patrick via a spring well on the farm. The water is soft which suits the beer styles we brew. We filter it manually to remove some manganese from the raw water. It’s a physical process – we don’t use any chemicals. 

Monday, March 6, 2023

Time to get acquainted with the Treixadura grape!

Time to get acquainted with the Treixadura grape!

Pazo do Mar Expresión Treixadura Ribeiro (DO) 2019, 13% ABV, O’Briens. €17.45 current, bought at 13.96 on offer.

O’Brien’s, the importers, tell us that the little-known Ribeiro region “is another exciting Galician wine producing area. This example comes from the boutique, family-owned Pazo do Mar estate.”

The producing family: We can call this wine Estate Wine because the grapes only come from a single vineyard, which provides a homogeneity of the harvested grapes influenced by similar soil and climate characteristics, which will clearly reflect the particular characteristics of the estate.

This white comes in a beautiful gold colour, catching the light from every angle. The aromas too are full of exquisite promise, fresh stone fruit plus a floral waft. And soon you feel very comfortable with it in your month, full of gentle fruit and a fresh acidity that helps it along to a very satisfying finish indeed.

Treixadura is the grape name, one that is not very familiar on Irish shelves, and is grown mainly in Spain and in Portugal where they call it Trajadura. It is usually blended. It is early ripening and blends well with Godello.

I’ve had a few Treixadura in recent months including, most notably, a Via Arxéntea Godello and Treixadura blend from Monterrei (via the MacCurtain Street Cellar). Treixadura is regarded as the queen variety in Vino Ribeiro.  It is a grape worth checking out.

The vineyard was planted in 2002, although there are records of the cultivation of the vine on the farm at the beginning of the 20th century. And the producers themselves have some 30 years of experience of working with the variety.

The harvest is carried out manually in small boxes of 15 kg capacity and a double selection of the clusters is carried out in the vineyard and in the winery to later go on to their pressing and fermentation in stainless steel tanks with later temperature control. the wine remains in contact with the lees for approximately 5 months prior to bottling. Production is limited to 30,000 bottles. Enjoy at a temperature of 10-12º C.

Very Highly Recommended

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Tasting a peated Dunville ahead of the distillery's masterclass at Cork Whiskey Fest 24-26 March

Tasting a peated Dunville ahead of the distillery's masterclass at Cork Whiskey Fest 24-26 March


Dunville's Belfast Peated Three Crowns Whiskey 43.5% ABV

A peated vintage blend of selected aged malt and grain whiskeys.. A quiet nose. Stunning texture. Beautiful delivery. Wonderful final kiss of smoke.

These are points that Dunville proclaim about the Peated Three Crowns whiskey. There is also an unpeated Three Crowns!

Hold it up to the light and you’ll notice the colour is a lighter than usual pale gold. Aromas are also on the delicate side, leaving a wisp of smoke to lead the way. Lively spices and light but definite smoke head up the palate, honey and apricot also in the posse, hints of aniseed, as we are led beautifully to the final stage, long and fruity and still that persistent yet friendly smoke. As they say, good things come to those who wait and, yes, this Dunville delivers quite a finalé.


A decade after a near 80 year absence, Dunville’s Irish Whiskey is well and truly back and it is more beautiful than ever. Dunville’s was born in 1808 and reborn 2012, with that long silence in between before the brand rebirth. This particular whiskey is a peated vintage blend of selected aged malt and grain whiskeys.

The excellent Celtic Whiskey site explains it in detail: “Comprised of a Single Grain Whiskey, a 10 Year Old Single Malt & a 15 Year Old Oloroso Sherry finished Single Malt which have been married together in a peated cask. A rare, delicately smoked Irish whiskey. Stunning!”

Master of Malts concur: “Exciting stuff, as peaty Irish whiskeys are not a common sight - and that's quite an understatement, frankly.”

Not sure that this particular whiskey will feature when Dunville visit Cork late in March for the Cork Whiskey Fest. Organisers tell me that Jarlath Watson’s Dunville’s Masterclasses have taken on “legendary status”. He always digs deep into the Echlinville Distillery’s stash of sherry bombs to blow people’s minds. Expect a lot!

The Echlinville Distillery, where Dunville is produced, is located on the Ards Peninsula in County Down near Ireland’s most easterly point. It is situated on the shores of Strangford Lough and it is surrounded by an internationally recognised Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Sounds like a great place to visit!

* The retail price seems to vary a bit - expect to pay 60-65 euro. I got my six ounces as a refill, part of the Hip Flask Club in Bradleys, North Main Street, Cork.

The Metropole will be a hive of activity during the Cork Whiskey Fest
24-26 March. Now over 125 years old, the hotel was "dry" for its early decades.
More info oin the festival, including tickets, here

Friday, March 3, 2023

Curious Wines Becomes Exclusive Distributor of Dom Brial Wines in Ireland

press release

Curious Wines Becomes Exclusive Distributor

 of Dom Brial Wines in Ireland

LEADING Irish wine importer Curious Wines has become the exclusive distributor in Ireland of wines from French collective Dom Brial. The Cork-based company has just added two reds, one white and a fortified wine from Dom Brial to its catalogue.

“These are cracking wines produced by a collective that represents around 250 growers cultivating over 2,000 hectares of vineyards in the Côtes du Roussillon. The collective’s vineyards make up a patchwork of terroirs and microclimates, allowing them to plant a wide range of varietals that are suited best to a particular location. We’ve chosen four that are a true expression of the region,” says Mike Kane, Curious Wines’ co-founder and Chief Taster.

The four wines from Dom Brial are (with Mike’s tasting notes):

Dom Brial ‘Les Camines’ Blanc 2022
“A blend of Rhône grapes Grenache Blanc and Viognier, 50/50 in proportion, grown in three distinct terroirs. Harvesting is done at night, with cool fermentation in stainless steel putting the focus firmly on the fruit. This is fresh and lively with aromas of white flowers and tropical fruits, beautifully balanced on the palate. It’s ripe and round with sweet stone fruit flavours and a clean, citrussy finish.”

Dom Brial ‘Les Camines’ Rouge 2021
“A blend of Merlot, Grenache and Syrah, fermented and matured in stainless steel. The three grapes work beautifully together here, the Merlot providing soft tannins and red fruit, the Syrah black fruit and acidity, and the Grenache some savouriness and spice. Supple and fruity, it offers aromas of blackberry, blackcurrant and a hint of earthy garrigue, with a summer fruit bowl on the palate, raspberries and damsons providing sweetness and depth, with a dry, elegant finish.”

Dom Brial ‘Mirade’ 2021
“A three-grape blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre from a single terroir, Hautes Terrasses — clay terraces with a proliferation of round stones — with no oak involved in the winemaking, just 12 months maturation in steel with further development in bottle. Gorgeously dark in colour, a deep purple-red, the nose is jam-packed with blackcurrant, blackberries and dried fruits, prunes and dates, with prominent herbal characters and earthy notes. The palate is rich in fruit, layers of summer berries and dried black fruit, with a fine tannin structure and minerally texture, hints of smokey meats and fruitcake, and a lithe, precise finish.”

Dom Brial Rivesaltes Ambré Hors d’Age
“Rivesaltes is a sweet, fortified wine. It’s made in a similar way to Port, the addition of grape brandy stopping the fermentation early and leaving the wine higher in sugar and alcohol. There’s a more oxidised effect to Rivesaltes though and for that reason they’re a bit more like Madeira. With a minimum of three years in oak barrels and two years in bottle, this speciality of Dom Brial is such a treat. Golden amber in colour and with thick tears in the glass, the nose is a concentration of sweet dried fruits, toffees and Christmas pudding spices. The balance on the palate is exquisite — viscous and sweet, dried apricot and candied orange combining with vanilla toffee, with a tangy citrus peel acidity and dry, piquant nuttiness giving the wine a savoury dimension and mouth-watering finish.”

Curious Wines is a family owned wine importer based in Cork City. It was founded in 2008 by Mike and Mary Kane as a more open, fun and approachable wine merchant for trade and private customers. It specialises in lesser known, quality wines that will tantalise the palate of curious wine drinkers in Ireland. The company distributes wine to both consumers and the trade throughout the Republic of Ireland from its headquarters and warehouse on Tramore Road, Cork, and its online shop at

West Waterford Festival of Food has all the ingredients of the ultimate food lover’s weekend!

West Waterford Festival of Food has all ingredients 
of the ultimate food lover’s weekend!
At the launch (l to r) are Richard Jacob of ‘Bia not Bluster’,
Eunice Power Festival Director and Chef Paul Flynn of the Tannery.

Increasing significantly in scale this year’s programme features over 70 food events and activities centred around Dungarvan, Lismore and the wider West Waterford Region.

Highlights will include a burlesque dinner show, chefs on trial in a real courthouse, pop- up events in the local mart, a toasted sandwich contest, a tablescaping workshop, a chocolate making masterclass and a Gala dinner at Lismore Castle in celebration of local food heroes Paul and Maire Flynn.


The West Waterford Festival of Food, one of Ireland’s largest and longest running food festivals, has today launched their 2023 programme. More than 70 events are set to take place in and around Dungarvan from 14th to 16th April. Highlights among the diverse range of events include gala dinners tapas trails, workshops, a food stage, pop-up experiences in unusual locations, a full children’s programme, foraging trails, bus tours, cooking demos, top chefs, high-end and casual dining experiences, plus one of Ireland’s largest outdoor markets. 

The main hub for the 3-d­­­ay festival is in the scenic harbour town of Dungarvan with events also taking place in nearby Lismore and throughout the West Waterford region, making it a truly local celebration.

The festival market is a huge draw with dozens of colourful and appealing stalls inviting festival goers to graze their way around the bustling town square and along the quayside and in Walton Park. This is the perfect excuse to stock up on fresh, local produce, artisan baking, Irish and international cuisine or eat out while soaking up the music and atmosphere.

Teddy Drohan (4), from Abbeyside, at the launch

New event highlights this year include a very special Gala dinner set in the resplendent Lismore Castle, which will honour Paul and Maire Flynn and be cooked by Chefs who are all ‘past pupils’ of the Tannery. The culinary couple will also chat to award winning author John McKenna.

Another unmissable dinner humorously titled ‘Chefs on Trial’ will bring fun and flavour to the unusual location of The Courthouse in Dungarvan. Here a gastronomic feast will be lovingly prepared by recently graduated cooks from Ballymaloe Cookery School!

Two high profile ‘Guest Chef’ events will take place at The Tannery over the weekend as TV Chef Mark Moriarty and Aisling Moore of Michelin Bib Gourmand awarded ‘Goldie’ each take turns at the pass for what promises to be foodie’s dream.

Other dinner events during the festival weekend include; a Burlesque dinner,  a ‘Surplus to Spectacular’ Supper with Food Cloud Kitchen,  dinner events entitled ‘A Seasonal adventure with Irish Food’ and ‘From the Mountains to the Sea’ and a collaborative 7 course farm tasting menu. For lighter bites options include a Taste Waterford Tapas Trail, a ‘Night of Antipasto’, cocktails and pizza at Blackwater Distillery, a Jazz Brunch, Beer and Bites tasting event to mention just a few! 

Adding further substance to festival line-up will be a new concept called ‘Bia not Bluster’ curated by conversation starter Richard Jacob, formerly of Idaho Café. Taking place at Dungarvan Town Hall high profile thought leaders and food industry experts will join in a series of panel discussions on topics of importance to the future of food. Topics will include farming, sustainability, and the future of restaurants. Amid these proceedings, a hotly contested “Toast off” will see 6 well known chefs from Cork and Waterford battle to see who can make the best toastie in 15 minutes, armed with local ingredients and a Breville sandwich toaster. 

Popping up at the unusual location of Dungarvan Mart will be two charming events, with a musical theme, bringing this agricultural trading space to life by night.  ‘Clancy’s Kitchen’ will regale the audience with songs, stories, and music from the household of the Clancy Brothers. While Mike Hanrahan and Eleanor Shanley will bring evening of songs and stories fusing food and music. In true mart tradition a simple supper of ham sandwiches, crisps and mulled apple juice will be provided at both events. 

Eunice Power Festival Director and Chef Paul Flynn of the Tannery pictured at the launch.
Pics by David Clynch

For the creative types check out the food photography or Art of Tablescaping workshops.

There is an abundance of family fun planned this year including an incredible Tirlán family fun zone at Walton Park with a host of free events from 11am to 3pm on the Saturday and Sunday. Throughout the festival there is lots to love for young and old including a ‘Junior Bake Off’ contest, sensory cooking classes, a teenager and young adult food workshop, , Teddy Bear’s Picnics, guided hillwalking and yoga, the Agri Aware Mobile Farm, Wobbly Circus stilt walkers, and even a Family Fun Dog Show! 

Of course, there will also be adult only events such as the Park after Dark with bars, bia and bands, Wine Tastings and more!

Ensuring the festival is as accessible as possible a mobile sensory unit for people on the autism spectrum will be at the festival provided by Autism Ireland to give the option of taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the event if needed. A Lámh signed cookery demonstration with Chef Aisling Larking will be a fun event for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and communication needs and their families, with a song or two from Nollaig Hennessy added in!

Part of the charm of a weekend immersed in the West Waterford Festival of Food is how bespoke the festival experience can be. Whether you wander the stalls, dip into a food trail or pop into a drop in event there is plenty to whet your appetite. A more dedicated festival goer may want to pour over the programme in advance and book in for a dining experience, masterclass or any of the other ticketed workshop or tasting events which are sure to be hugely popular.

The West Waterford Festival of Food is funded by Waterford Council, Waterford Leader Partnership, Fáilte Ireland and Waterford LEO and would not be possible without the support of sponsors, friends circle and the community.

For the full programme, more information and bookings for ticketed events see (Tickets available from Tuesday 7th March at 9am)