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All Night Long Session Pale Ale

DSCF6622All Night Long Session Pale Ale

It mightn’t please the hard core craft beer drinkers, and I’m not sure about Lionel Ritchie fans either, but I can see this going down very nicely over the coming month, maybe longer if the Irish team qualify for the final stages of Euro16. Kicking in at 4.2%, this is a very tasty light refreshing beer with a pleasing hoppiness, although not too bitter and a nice fruitiness.As a session beer, it works very well. I like the retro (1990’s?) design too. This is available exclusively from Mulloys Liquor Stores and the result of a collaboration with Rascal Brewing. €2.75 for a 330ml can or 5 for €10.

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Duxie Grapefruit Tea Pale Ale, Jack Cody’s Brewery

<strong>Duxie Grapefruit Tea Pale Ale, Jack Cody’s Brewery

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Geoff FitzPatrick of Jack Cody’s

Duxie Grapefruit Tea Pale Ale, Jack Cody’s Brewery
5%

First published in the online Irish Times on 24th February, 2016

Yes, you read it correctly. A beer that lists pink grapefruit , lime and earl grey tea as ingredients alongside the usual barley, hops, yeast and water. The label says drink in the sunshine, something that is currently in short supply, or with salads, smoked mackerel or Thai red curry. I had none of these to hand, but gave it a go anyway. It has aromas of candy and orange peel, and a light, refreshing, lightly bitter palate of fruit and candy again and some grapefruit. It also has the slight yet definite soapy perfume and flavour of earl grey tea. I liked it but could see how others wouldn’t.

Set up in Drogheda by Geoff FitzPatrick, Jack Cody’s has been going since the summer of 2014, making a good name for itself with Smiggy Amber Ale and Puck Pilsner. The brewery also has Hail Glorious Saint Patrick Extra Stout out for the coming national day.

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Stone Barrel Oatmeal & Coffee Stout

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The Rotation Series Episode 4 Oatmeal & Coffee Stout
Stone Barrel Brewing Company

6%
First published in the online Irish Times Wednesday 17th February, 2016

What do bankers do when they tire of taking our money? Make beer if Stone Barrel is anything to go by. Niall FitzGerald and Kevin McKinney had been friends for a long time. “We both worked in financial services in the glory days. We were low level though” stresses Kevin, “if we had been real bankers we have a really fancy brewery by now.” For the moment they brew in Craftworks, the brewing facility in Broombridge. However, they have now bought their own kit and hope to set up their own operation in the next eight to ten weeks.

“We were home brewers for a long time and like a lot of people, always wanted to have our own brewery.” Their first beer, Boom, was released in November 2013. “We made a conscious decision to develop one product and push it as much as possible. We are hugely proud of the result; it is our bread and butter.” The oatmeal and coffee is the fourth in their rotational series. “Whenever we have a bit of spare capacity we try a once off to keep us and the beer drinkers interested,” says Kevin.

The label is not the easiest to read. “We had a mishap with the printers and the label came out a lot darker than we anticipated”, says Kevin. “But we needed to get the beer out there before Christmas so we went ahead. Label aside, this is a very nice beer, with plenty of dark roasted coffee and dark chocolate too, alongside some hoppy fruit. All of this darkness matched my mood, as I watched Ireland go under in Paris.

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Dunbrody IPA

Dunbrody Irish Pale Ale
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Last week the Arthurstown brewery joined the ever-lengthening list of craft breweries in this country. Based in the Dunbrody House Estate, this is the brainchild of celebrity chef Kevin Dundon, owner of Dunbrody, local farmer and B&B owner Tosh Crosbie, local businessman Eamon Murphy and marketeer Niamh Ní Dhónaill. The story goes that Arthurstown had no pub, so ‘The Local’ bar was built in the grounds of Dunbrody. Kevin and his mates were enjoying a pint there one evening when someone came up with the idea of brewing their own beer.

The brewery has the capacity to produce eight thousand litres a week. The brewer is Kieran Bird, a local, or at least ‘five or six miles down the road’ he says. They produce the Kings Bay beers for SuperValu as well as Dunbrody Irish Pale Ale and Irish Red Ale. The latter are aimed at restaurants and specialist off-licences, the former as introductory beers for newbie craft beer converts. All of the base malts are grown locally, and Kieran is very happy with the soft water supplied by an ancient well on the grounds of Dunbrody. I’ll be brewing the stout in the New Year, and we are starting to think about other seasonal beers,’ says Kieran, ‘maybe a lager with strawberries to go with the other famous local produce, maybe a pumpkin ale or a lighter Kölsch for the spring. We will see.’ The Dunbrody Pale Ale is light, crisp and refreshing with a subtle citrus finish.

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Take it home: a craft beer hit and a wine designed for women

Take it home: a craft beer hit and a wine designed for women

From the Irish Times Online Edition Friday 4th September, 2015

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Brehon Brewhouse Stony Grey India Pale Ale

6% €3.50 for 500ml bottle

Those with literary pretensions will know immediately where this beer comes from. Seamus McMahon set up the Brehon Brewhouse in 2014, out the back of a working dairy farm – an opportunity for milk stout perhaps? He is in the parish of Killanny, close to Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, home of poet Patrick Kavanagh.

“We started off at the Carrickmacross Festival in June 2014 with a festival ale,” says McMahon. “We made three thousand bottles and sold out within three days. Monaghan people really took to us and our beer. We got five taps in town within a week. Now we are in fifty pubs locally, across Louth, Cavan, Monaghan and Armagh. Monaghan Enterprise Board have been a great help too.” He is “absolutely loving it” but has his work cut out, looking after 120 cows at the same time. The brewer is Phil Bizzell, originally from Dublin, where he worked in L Mulligan Grocer, before joining Brehon. The core brands are their blonde and red beers, but they also now make the IPA above and a strong stout. “It is part and parcel of what we do as craft brewers,” says Bizzell. “Coming from Dublin, I have been very pleasantly surprised by the local reception. For most people it is their first time to drink craft beer. But most of the pubs who tried it out are keeping it.”

The Stony Grey has forward citrus hoppy aromas, plenty of refreshing lemon peel on the palate, balanced nicely with some malty notes, and a lightly bitter finish. Might it even bring back “the long hours of pleasure,” that Kavanagh lost in the stony grey soil of Monaghan?

DSCF6104Ch de Nety 2014 Beaujolais Villages

12.5% €8.99 from Aldi

Do women and men like different wines?

Beyond the clichés about Pinot Grigio, Prosecco and Girl’s Nights, do women prefer lighter, less alcoholic wines? I am generally cynical about award stickers on bottles of wine but I was intrigued by the gold medal on this one. It was given by the Concours Mondiale des Féminalise 2015. A little search on the internet revealed that the tasting panel in this competition is made up of all female wine professionals. I am not sure about the other award-winning wines, but the woman in my house certainly enjoyed this. Then again so did I. Do I have girly tastes? Looking at the website it does say that a medal “guarantees you a wine appreciated by women,” but then also adds “it is a wine that has all the requirements that appeal to men.” Phew!

Ch de Nety is very light, low in alcohol with delicate cherry fruits. It is refreshing; the French would call it gouleyant or lively. They would probably also call it a vin de soif or thirst-quenching wine. In other words, a pleasant wine to be enjoyed without too much fuss or any great palaver. Maybe that is what women like. It is also very cheap, so we can all enjoy it without damaging the credit card.

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Mountain Man Brewing Co. Hairy Goat

Mountain Man Brewing Co. Hairy Goat

From the Irish Times online ‘Take it Home’ 21st August, 2015

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DSCF6041€3.39 for a 500ml bottle

I keep bumping into Mountain Man at fairs, tastings and festivals. There’s usually a lot of hair around, on the logo, as well as on the man that’s pouring. It seems to attract hairy, bearded men too. Behind it all are Phil Cullen and Gordon Lucey, who met on a brewing course in 2012. ‘We were both looking at setting something up at the same time so we thought we might as well put our heads together’, says Cullen. The logo and labeling are distinctive. ‘We took great care with our labels and bottles – you need to have a really good beer, but there’s more to it than that. Nine out of ten people read the label before buying and I thought there was an awful lot of wasted space on some, so we made ours stand out. We have useful information and something to make you smile.’ As for the beards, ‘When we went to the first couple of festivals people asked me ‘Is this your beer? Then where’s your beard?’ So I started growing one. It has become a job requirement now!’ Hairy Goat is an English style IPA, with lovely plump fruits, a nicely balanced hoppiness and a dry but not overly bitter finish. Nice beer. Widely available at €3.99 for a 500ml bottle

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Brooklyn Sorachi Ace

From The Irish Times online 22nd May, 2015

7.6%
€12.99

“The beer you grew up with did not taste of beer. It was crappy beer.”

Garrett Oliver hauled up at the Ballymaloe Litfest last weekend to take part in debates and promote the cause of craft beer. Articulate, witty and hugely knowledgeable, he is a formidable and persuasive speaker. As well as writing the Oxford Beer Companion and The Brewmaster’s Table, he has been the driving force behind the Brooklyn Brewery, one of the most successful and innovative craft brewers in the US. In addition to their standard range, Brooklyn produces once-off highly experimental beers and seasonal releases.

Oliver uses leftover lees from cider, spruce needles, myrtle, citrus peels, pepper, honey, bourbon casks, and a host of other ingredients to add flavour and complexity to the beers. He is a great believer in matching beer and food too. The Sorachi Ace hop was developed in Japan in the 1970s, a cross between a Czech and British hop. The beer has wonderful herby lemon zest aromas, a soft dry palate full of herby flavours. Unique and delicious.

Widely available.

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Dark Arts Porter, Trouble Brewing

Dark Arts Porter, Trouble Brewing

From The Irish Times, online ‘Take it Home’ 12th June, 2015

DSCF55874.4% €2.99 for a 500ml bottle Widely available

“It’s not about the hops. It is all about the malts”, says Paul O’Connor of Trouble Brewing. “We use six different kinds of malt in the brew alongside some flaked barley.” The Dark Arts beers always have enough flavour to please the beer nuts while still appealing to the rest of us. “Dark Arts was the second beer we did, six months after we started. It arrived fully-formed. We have never tweaked the recipe since that first batch. We intended it to be a one-off special but people raved about it and it quickly became our second core beer. It’s never been the best-selling beer (that would be the Deception Golden Ale) but we have always got great reviews.” This is great porter, one of my go-to beers when I need something to sip slowly on a midweek evening. Medium-bodied with chocolate and roasted coffee, and a light hoppy freshness.

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O’Hara’s Hop Adventure Series Sorachi Ace Single Hop India Pale Ale

O’Hara’s Hop Adventure Series Sorachi Ace Single Hop India Pale Ale

From The Irish Times online ‘Take it Home’ 24th July, 2015

DSCF56135% €2.99

A few weeks back I wrote about the Sorachi Ace from the Brooklyn Brewery. If you haven’t tried it, I suggest you seek it out straight away. While you are doing that, keep an eye out for the O’Hara’s Hop Adventure Series Sorachi Ace. The Carlow brewers have released their version, the first in a series of beers featuring specially selected hops from around the globe. Sorachi Ace came about back in the 1980s, when a Japanese company crossed a Czech hop with one from England; the resulting hybrid added unique flavours of dill, lemongrass and lemon to a beer. The O’Hara’s Sorachi Ace is a very delicious summery light-bodied beer with lemon verbena and dill on the nose and a lovely easy soft gently hoppy palate.

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Northbound 08 Kölsch

Northbound 08 Kölsch

From the Irish Times online ‘Take it Home’ 31st July,2015

DSCF5619€4.15 / £2.99 – 5%

I have very fond, if slightly hazy, memories of Kölsch from my student days working on building sites in Germany. If you were in Düsselfdorf, you drank Altbier, a copper-coloured fruity beer. If you were a little further south in Köln (or Cologne) you drank Kölsch. You were treated with contempt if you asked for Kölsch in Düsseldorf or an Alt in Köln. Kölsch is pale-coloured, like a lager, but top-fermented like an ale. It is light with a delicate fruitiness and subtle malt flavours. It is not an easy beer to produce but a few craft breweries around the world have tried their hand at it including, now, one in Ireland.

David and Martina Rogers emigrated to Sydney in 2004 as backpackers with a difference – David was an engineer with a residence permit. He started working with Tooheys Brewery, one of the largest in Australia. Included in his work description was “must be able to taste beer at 6.00am every morning”. He qualified as a master brewer in 2013. Drawn back by family ties and the beaches of Donegal, they returned to Ireland and set up Northbound brewery in Derry.

To keep things going, David consults with breweries and distilleries in Ireland and Scotland. In Sydney, Martina worked in sales; here she does “everything the master brewer doesn’t want to do”.

The brewery took two years to set up. “We are coming out of the madness I hope,” says Martina, “We bought our first house, had our third child and took delivery of the brewery in a very short space of time”. Their Kölsch is very good, with subtle malts and a refreshing crisp edge. It brought me straight back to Germany and those building sites. Mine was sourced in Whelehan’s, Loughlinstown.

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