Thursday, November 5, 2015

Vegan Friendly Irish Craft Beer Part 2.

"The list below I would not be surprised to see grow over the next few year"

Well it did and much faster than I was expecting. Here we are 24 hours later with 43 independent Irish craft breweries across the island that are vegan/vegetarian friendly! With a massive range of beer and style there is certainly something for everyone. Again this list will only grow over the next while. 

*Exception GBB: Buried at Sea, contains lactose.

*Exception 9 white Deer: Cask ale

*Exception Blacks: some old bottles

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Vegan Friendly Irish Craft Beer

Well Diageo has finally bowed to pressure from the vegan/vegetarian community and has declared that the pride of St James gate will be vegan friendly. With the removal of isinglass, a product derived from the swim bladders of fish and is expected to happen sometime around mid-2016. Isinglass is a fining agent that clarifies the beer. Where it's positively charge and binds the negatively charged yeast and which then falls out of solution, leaving a clear beer. There has been plenty of debate over the years of whether its use is needed in modern brewing. But probably its biggest use of isinglass still is within the cask conditioned ale of England. Obviously since it’s an animal product this has raised objections from vegan/vegetarians. But there has been a counter movement over that last few years with “Unfined beer", where Moor Beer has been leading the charge in the UK. 

"We are at the beginning of the project to install the new system. It’s a complex project and will take many months to install and test before it goes live and is used I the production of Guinness.” A company spokeswoman said via The 

But as ever, it’s the Irish craft beer sector that has been quietly been leading the charge for the last few years. A number of breweries have confirmed that their beers are Vegan friendly. The list below I would not be surprised to see grow over the next few years. 

So all is not is not lost, vegans can enjoy an Irish craft beer in many places around Ireland while supporting small indigenous independent breweries. Now that’s something worth raising a pint to. *Exception Buried at Sea which contains lactose.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Road Trippin

To celebrate their 20th anniversary in business the good people at Mc Hughs have teamed up Kinnegar to release a special beer. Road Trip a 6.2% American inspired pale ale. I am a big fan of Kinnegar, their Black IPA is one of the best around.  Therefore, I had high expectations of this beer and the early word was this was a beer to try.

 Colour:  Amber in the glass with a good firm head.  Its darker than most pale ales, but it is a big field to play in anyway. A little hazy, but you are warned of that on the label and in my experience it a help hold some of the more delicate hop aromas. 

Aroma: Big hit of perfumery hops with a touch of an herbal note to it. Underpinning this was candy/caramel sweetness with a dash of maltiness. All rounded off with a very pleasant dank/ piney C hop finish. Very American centric so far as one would expect as the hop listed are Chinook, Summit, Cascade, Simcoe, Centennial and then dry-hopped with a healthy dose of Amarillo, Centennial, and Citra!!

Taste: What hit me initially was the sherbet and grapefruit pith along stick hop oils, that all played very well together.  Bringing up the rear was malt backbone. That did not overplay its hand and overpower the hop flavours. A good but not over carbonation helped meld these entire things together. All in all, a well brewed beer. One I really enjoyed tasting and I would love to see re-brewed again.  Let’s us hope this is just the start of a beautiful relationship between Kinnignar and Mc Hughs. For disclosure, Cathal McHugh very kindly offered to send me a bottle for me to review. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Great Woods, Blanchy Spoons

Yesterday saw the opening of the third pub in the latests instalment in the Irish portfolio of JW Wetherspoons. The name that was chosen via a reader pole in the Northside people was “The Great Wood”. The Great Scaldwood is the woods proper title and was old rements of old growth Irish forest. Part of the forest would have been in the area of where the Blanchardstown centre now resides. The old Irish forest that was maintained by the local lords till the coming of Cromwell. With the removal of the local gentry wolfs proliferated, which became a danger to man and beast Which resulted in great cull in 1652. 

While I was out for a walk I decided I would pop along and check it out. The site that was chosen was a form night club. Pure drinking establishment in the Blanchardstown area have not fared to well over the years. But I suppose if anyone can make a go of it, it’s probably Wetherspoons. Targeting the pub, cafe/coffee shop, restaurant and general leisure spend. The same day of the opening of  The Great Wood. Wetherspoons in Ireland decide to increases price, somewhere around 33% on selected products. But that didn't appear to put the punters of, the place was packed on both floors. Even with the price increase it’s still cheaper than any pub in the area as far as I am aware of. Although this increase was not applied to any real ale product’s and remained at 2.50 per pint. But that maybe down Tim Martins tipple of choice. The choices currently are all English real ale Hobgoblin, Doom bar, Ghostship etc. I am hoping over time that we will get to see some Irish micro’s getting some space on the beer engines. I wasn't eating but the  food orders did appear appeared to be moving. There is a good bottle selection of Irish craft beer from 8 degreesBru and McGraths. Given the proliferation of pubs offering Cute hoor and Hop house as their "craft "options in the area. An as I was told in one new local pub "that's what Diageo/Heineken offered"! The spoons offering is possibly one of the largest selection of Irish craft beer in the area. But why did it take an English pup chain for this to happen?

Adnams Ghost ship (cask): 

Amber in the glass with a good head and lacing.  From been served though a sparkler as God intended. The aroma was mildly hoppy with citrus lemon and finishing with some lemongrass. Taste wise it started with bready malt, citrus fruit and with a very nice tang hop bitter finish. A beer in very good condition and easy drinker to boot. Its great see some cask ale available in the local area and hopefully some from Irish brewery in the not to distant future.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Descent into Anarchy

A few months ago Barry and Fitzwilliam distributors had kindly asked us to meeting up with the people behind Anarchy Brew Co Brewing at W.J. Kavanagh's. I thought this would be a good opportunity to check out a few place along my route to Kavanagh's. Using Google maps I planned out my route to hit some old and new spots, all with good and interesting beers. Give the number and spatial diversity of good beer bars/pubs around Dublin now. There are now a few good bimble's to be had. Unfortunately, this post is much later than I had anticipated as I lost some of my notes and pictures!

Porter house chocolate stout, Porterhouse Temple bar:

First stop was to check out this year’s release of the Porterhouse chocolate stout. I missed it last year, but the word was that this year was very good and worth seeking out.  In the glass it's black was you would expect with a nice dense white head. The aroma is of big cocoa and sweet chocolate. The chocolate theme is carried over in the taste, dry cocoa and dark chocolate finishing. With a slight bitterness that either came from the chocolate or hops. Great beer and I can see why this was such a hit this years, it’s just a pity I left it so long before trying it!

Panti Bars House Pale ale:

Next stop was to try Panti bars house Irish craft beer, Panti’s pale ale. Its brewer by Trouble brewing, so from the out it has a very good pedigree to fall back on. It poured amber in colour, a bit reminiscent of an English bitter. With an aroma of light citrusy hops. On the palate, there was a firm bitterness and hop resin from the hops. As the half warmed up, toffee/caramel and malt notes came to the fore. Given it's priced in at  4 euro a pint or 11 for a pitcher, it represents good value and a solid beer to boot. 

Respect your elders Galway bay brewery, The Black sheep:

This the 16th pilot batch out of  Galway Bay Brewery and  it was on cask at The Black sheep. Deep brown in the glass with a tight white head from been served through a sparkler. The aroma is clean, with a slight caramel/toffee and malt. Taste wise it’s a well attenuated beer. No big sugar/ caramel candy bomb, which something used to describe the style. Smooth melanoidins that is balanced out with the hop bitterness. A well brewed beer and served in good condition. 

My final stop and the main event was W.J. Kavanagh's. There were three  beer from Anarchy  available. All of them on keg, which it turned out unusual as they are manly a cask brewery.  First up was Anti-Vemon  IPA

Anti-Vemon  IPA:

In the glass, it was had a  slightly hazy yellow. The aroma was of mango and sweet American hops. The bitterness as lighter than I expected which was followed by slight malt sweetness, easy drinker of a 6% beer. 

Citra star:

Lighter than Anti-venom, weighing in at 4.1%. Big tropical fruit on the nose, with a very pleasing mouth feel and hop flavour. Overall a more balanced beer than Anti-venom   and a one that I have a few pints on the night.

Sublime Chaos:

A big stout (7%) and possibly off all the beer I would have really like to try on cask. The tread decription describes it as “ a stout infused with Ethiopian Guji natural coffee beans, balanced delicately with New Zealand hops.” It was as black as the ace of spades in the glass with a big cocoa noise. On the plate, there was a tsunami of dry cocoa and a light coffee and a chocolate sweetness finish. I did not really pick up the much in the way of the New Zealand hops. All in all a good stout.

Smoke Saison:
My favourite beer of the evening, it poured a pale hazy straw colour from the bottle. This beer is all about the aroma, up front bacon and beach wood finish with the classic Belgian/ saison phenols. On the palate there is the initial pepperiness from the saison yeast. Then creepy behind came the smokiness from the Rauch malt. This beer was perfectly balanced, something that is very had to achieve. Considering there are the phenols/ pepperiness of the yeast to marry with the acrid beach wood flavour. Nevertheless, they did manage to do it and I was told around 20% ruach was used. Which is also the class percentage for a very good smoked porter.  A very good beer and worth seeking out.

A big thank you to  Barry and FitzwilliamAnarchy Brew Co and W.J. Kavanagh's for have us all.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hop Adventure

I picked up O'Haras  new release. The first in a series of Single hop IPA's from my local Molloys off license. Single hop beers appear to be very much in vogue with Irish brewers these days and I say I can't complain.

For their first in the series they opted for the Japanese hop, Sorachi Ace. Developed by Sapporo its been around since the mid 1980's but came to the for with the hop crises of 2007-2008.  O'Haras has used it  for all bittering, aromatic and dry hop additions to maximise its potential in the beer. I have had a bit of a mix bag of experiences with this hop over the last few years. But proof is on the eating or in this case in the drinking.

Colour: Its pours a light yellow with a good head.

Aroma: Up front with a big citrus hit of lemon-grass, following a more subdued and smother gorse wild-flower.

Taste: It has the body of a west coast IPA with a rather pleasant slick hop mouth feel. Muted sweetens is the followed with lemon, hop acids and bitterness. The crystal malt has been retained allow the hop to shine through. A little reminiscent of a lemon margarine pie filling in a strange way and could be quite refreshing on a hot day. For those that are unfamiliarly with this unique hop it worth checking out.

Friday, June 12, 2015

New Things

Oxymoron kiwi Wit: 8 degrees Belgian inspired wit beer, pours hazy yellow with a big fluffy head. The aroma is of big classic Belgian phenols and pepper. Following with floral, tropical and citrus fruits. I got to sample both the keg (via Against The Grain) and bottle form. I did notice a slight difference between the two. The bottle had a little more of the phenols punch, whereas the keg I though edged on the tropical hop aromas. Medium bodied, with a softness that come for the use of malted wheat. Not the classic form of wheat for a wit. But one that works very well to balance out the yeast phenols and when you want hops to a play role. All of this was closely followed up with the Belgian yeast flavours interplaying with hop bitterness, lemon and a pleasant pepperiness in the finish. 

Grand Stretch:  I picked up a bottle from my local Malloy’s off-licence the latest beer from 8 degrees, a session IPA. It pours a clear orange in colour. On the noise it hits with mango, citrus mandarin, pine and ending with a dash of sherbet from cascade.  Medium body, it’s bigger in mouth feel that you would expect from a 4.2% season IPA. A firm hop bitterness and a dose of hop acid balances out the beer nicely. A well brewed session IPA that drinks like a bigger beer, with out the side-effects.   

Equinox SMASH: On what start out with me dropping of Beoir Magazines to a few place around Dublin city centre. I happened upon a few Beoir member and bloggers in the Brew Dock. Preparing to head do to the Killarney beer festival, more on that in another post. Forward on a few venue drop offs and a few beers later, Des De Moor, Steve Lamond and myself ended up at the Butchers bar in the Bull and Castle. Des and myself order a glass of Trouble brewing new Equinox SMaSH (single malt and single hop). At this stage of the evening I was not taken a huge amount of note! But the aroma was truly memorable , one of the highlight of the evening. All big tropical fruit on the noise, papaya and finishing with a hint of lemon. An at 4.5% it is something you can enjoy a few without worries. It good to see such great brewers releasing such  full flavoured  low abv beers

Thursday, June 11, 2015

"Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

I  picked the one of three available bottles of Brewdog's new Double IPA, Born To Die from my local Molloys off-licence. At 11 euro its not cheap, but you do get 650ml of a 8.5% for you money though. 

Colour: Clear light golden, with a nice neat head 

Aroma: Big mango, C-hop with a very health does of tropical fruit. Finishing with little sweet malt

Taste: As you probably would expect been a double IPA and and beer from Brewdog. Hops would be expected to play canter stage if not hog all the limelight. It initial hits with a big volley  of mango and papaya. For a 8.5% beer the alcohol is very will hidden  allow all those aromas and flavours to come to the for.  There is a good body to the beer with plenty of  hop resins with every mouth full. Almost have a oily feel to it, but   all but in  a good way. The hop is bitterness is there but is not a prominent as you would expect for a 100 IBU beer. But this does not detract from the beer. 

Way back in the mid noughts there was  some  debate been beer among the beer nerds Beerinati and home-brewers. As to whether double IPA's were just American barley wines by another name. In fairness there where a few that possibly were at the time, with lager percentage of crystal malt. But Born To Die is certainly not one of these. Once all those lovely tropical aromas fade. Leaving nothing more than a skeleton of malt backbone holing up what was the delicate aromatic structure. An that is just the way it should be for double IPA's. Drink fresh and enjoy. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


A new kid on the block, Radik ale released his first beer, a couple of weeks ago. A single hopped (Chinook) american pale ale. 5.2% ABV and 36 IBU and places it in the drinking range for many of the public.  Alain had very kindly dropped of a couple of bottles for me to try at the 57th The Headlines. 

The urban homebrewing legends say's that one of the most famous Chinook single hop beers is Stone's big Arrogant Bastard. A big American strong ale and certainly not in the session range that Hopster is aimed at.  Single hop beer can be a great learning tool to understand what aromas and flavours certain hops can contribute to the beer. 

Colour: A dark amber, heading towards the red range., with a nice white head. Darker than most other pale ales on the scene, but a welcome addition.

Aroma: Upfront with dark/dank C hops, pine a little caramel and finishing with some light grapefruit. Not over powering, which kept it still a very approachable beer. 

Taste: My impression of this beer is of  a clean  and well brewed beer.Following with a good dose of dark fruits, rich caramel and a malt finish. As the beer warmed up the presences of the crystal malt was kept way  in check by the spicy/ grapefruit Chinook hops. The use of Chinook hops and a dark crystal malt, its hard not to draw parallels to that very famous west coast American strong ale. Great first beer from Radik ale. Hopster, a beer that has something for the hop fan right though to those looking for more from their red ales. I am looking forward to their next release.    

Thursday, June 4, 2015

All was quiet on New Year ’s Day!

On a wet New Year ’s Day, with the Year not even 12 hours old I had my first brewery tour. It could possibly be the some sort of record, but who knows. Gordon of 9 White deer was very kind to agree to show me around the brewery. On our way back to Dublin, after spending New Year ’s Eve in Kenmare, we passed through Ballyvourney. The home town of 9 White deer, we stopped off to meet Gordon and have a look around the brewery. 

The brew house its self is a 22 HL system, Gordon was very active in the design and build of his brew-house. Which can be seen reflected in the design of the heat system. The kettle is heated via a steam powered external wort boiler which to maximizes the entire kettle. Which I was told is fairly unique for a system of its size. Something you’re more likely to seen with the bigger boys. As the external boiler is kept at 105 deg C there is no scorching of the wort. 

A glimpse of the rakes within the mash tun

They have range of different fermentation vessels. Four double brew 45 HL and two single 25HL. Which in total give a capacity of 300 hectoliters or 30,000 litres.  Gordon added his own cooling system to the fermentation vessels. Copper coil was placed around each fermentation vessel that supplied glycol for cooling/heating.  Which was the insulated to maintain the correct temperature.  

Walkway for ease of access to the fermentation vessels. 

They have added a state of the art bottling line can fill 1700 by 500ml bottles per hour. There is very little oxygen pick-up as each bottle is double flushed with carbon dioxide. Give the rate of bottle, I suspect it keeps the people working on it very busy.

The Home brewing system, from which it all started with. I was very envious when I first was the system over on Beoir. Gordon’s ability to fabricate such a system and having it to play around with. It has now been promoted to become the pilot brew house from 9 White deer and an assist to the brewery 

Lots of lovely shiny kegs. They went with the brewery name on the kegs over the somewhat traditional method of a color code on the kegs 

Stag Ban a 4.5%, 30 IBU's. It’s a pale- gold beer with a nice white head. The aroma is of citrus and lemons, which finishes with a little fresh cut grass. The hops used are First Gold, Amarillo and Cascade. Which would add the citrus notes noticed the nose. It has a medium body, dry, with almost with a clean enjoyable lager quality to it. Ban very much reminded me of some of the classic golden ales and a very drinkable beer.  I suspect Ban as a base beer would be a good platform to experiment with some single cask hopping.  

Stag Rua a 4.5% Irish red ale. It’s a dark ruby in the glass, with some caramel aromas. But this much dryer beer than some Irish reds would suggest. There is a little caramel flavour which is then firmly backed up with a roastiness from the grain paired with hop tannin's and bitterness. Some different for the Irish red ale lover and welcome addition the Irish craft beer scene.  
Photo via 9 White Deer
Thank you very much to Gordon for venturing out on a cold and wet News Years morning to show me around the brewery.  For disclosure I did receive beers to review.