Dec 19 2013

Mmmmmmm …….. Beer

Posted by     22 Comments    Posted under: Reviews

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This is it… the end of the year.

Typically, at this stage of the game, I like to do a small recap on how things are going – you know, a ‘state of the nation’ kind of update  -  but I needed to get one last ‘blog’ post out there before all hell breaks loose this weekend. My sister, her husband, and their four kids are descending upon us for the holidays and we might all ‘switch off’ and enjoy the quietness and calmness that comes over all of the kids when they get together every year.

Yep. 8 kids under the age of 13 … quiet and calm.

Needless to say, this might explain why we are moving rapidly on to the subject of Beer.

But not just any old Beer. Real. IRISH.Beer.

You may or may not know this but the Chef & I met in a brewery. I was a radiant young Irish girl working in a bar in northern Kentucky and he was the Chef. There was a strict dating policy in the company – where you could not date your co-workers, so after a few months of cajoling and breaking down his will to stay single, I managed to get him hooked-on-love, and then I fired him. This is a true story. He still holds ill will towards me for this small blip on the radar of our almost 20 years of togetherness.

Aside from that little bump-in-the-road, we both also fell madly and hopelessly in love – with Beer. He was, up to that point, a bit of a mamby-pamby ‘eye-talian’ wine drinker, as he had spent oodles of time working and traveling around Italy – and I was still just not much of a drinker. I’d chance my arm at a Gin & Tonic, or hot whiskey on a cold night, but had no grá for beers or wine at all. I could probably blame my parents for letting us try the shocking bad sips of Blue Nun or Liebfraumilch at Christmas … acid in a bottle guys. Don’t go there.

Anyway, there was this guy named ‘Beer Dave’ (Dave Gausepohl) who worked with us and he taught us everything we needed to know about finding the beer that would suit our tastebuds and how to pair them with food and sell them. I really love Beer Dave – and have never forgotten those lessons.

When we moved back home to Ireland in 2008 – after a brief stint in Switzerland – I was sad and annoyed to see that Guinness and Smithwicks were still ruling the rails at the local pubs and – worse even, my Irish compatriots had developed a taste for Coors Light, Budweiser and Miller Genuine Draft.

There was no sign of the massive micro-brewing movement that the US had experienced ever hitting our shores. We were forced to drink Sam Adams and Chimay (which incidentally I have always and still really love both of these) – but I honest-to-gawd hated not buying a local brew at the pub.

THEN – as if by magic, a few good men started making their own beers. Now, we have so many little micro-brewed beers available to us I have actually lost count of them all. I’ll bet there are more than 10 – hey, we are a very small island.

** I stand corrected – Andrew from Beoir just alerted me to the fact that we have now THIRTY breweries on the island. I am not sure if this includes the likes of Guinness et al – but will update ‘all later once I get that ironed out  **

What is Beoir?

Beoir is an independent group of consumers with a primary goal of supporting and raising awareness of Ireland’s native independent microbreweries. You can read more about Beoir here. AND if you are a beer lover – you should join their organisation. Its only a tenner. Perfect stocking stuffer methinks!

………and there is more from Sara over at BeerIsland.ie -

We currently have 37 craft brewing brands trading, I believe, but in 2014 we will have about 50 craft brewing business operating on the island of Ireland. There are about 30 new startups launching in 2013-2014, and about 20 more established craft breweries.

http://beerireland.ie/craft-brewers/

 

…….. Sheeseh – lads, start drinking!

The key thing about these beers and their brewmasters is this: THEY ARE ALL EXCELLENT.

For serious.

I have put together a small list below of our Top Six Irish Beers – all available at Cases.ie (and even if Peter is sold out of some of them – he can hook you up with a fab mixed case).

If you are wondering what to get a special someone in your life, and you know that they LOVE real Beer – then look no further. The mixed case idea is one of the most delicious treats we have stumbled upon. One small thing to mention here before y’all go complaining that all the hops and barley and grains etc. are not all grown in Ireland (mostly UK and Germany) – well, yes, I know that. So technically, it is Irish made, but the ingredients are not fully Irish. Stop complaining. Life is too short.

Here we go and in no particular order …. because I have all of them in my fridge and can’t wait to crack one open!

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With a name like Galway Hooker - you can’t go wrong. This is a gorgeous year-round drinker and is for sure a favourite of so many people in the West.

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 11.22.31 The two lads that are making this beer have done an excellent job supporting local events, getting their name and their product out there. And now, there beer is available at several locations.

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Oh – make me wish for summer and an ice cold bottle of this fair beauty. Dungarvan Brewing company  have currently seven beers to offer us and it seems there is no end to their creative juices down in Waterford. Keep ‘em coming!

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Sometimes, I call ahead and ask restaurants and cafés if they stock this. I kid you not. Gorgeous.

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A totally surprise from the midlands! We sampled A few beers from Bo Bristle Brewery earlier in June this year when we popped over for a summer BBQ to our friends at OldFarm pigs, pork and more.

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They had gotten a few sample bottles to try and we did not want to go home without them. Full of hops and body. Great personality in every bottle.

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These guys, at Eight Degrees brewing down in Cork, nailed it first time around with their ‘Howling Gale’ ale. Always in the fridge here at Chez Wise and especially during the long hot summer months … ha ha … ok, still delicious in the rain. I hear the Aztec Stout is of ‘award winning’ calibre but have yet to try it. Dear Santa ..Beers with attitude indeed.

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Another excellent Galway brewery – Galway Bay Brewing Company – now have four excellent beers on offer and as they are making everything in small batches I reckon we will see them branch out soon and be even more adventurous.

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And LAST but by no means LEAST I give you … my most recent delicious discovery .. dear Santa … I have been a very good girls this year. A mixed case of White Gypsy Beers for Christmas – oh me – oh my.

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The nice thing about these beers – is that they come in a bigger bottle and have a little bit more volume of alcohol – so perfect to share with someone. One bottle is enough.

What we loved about these beers – the Dubell and the stout in particular – is that even a week or ten days later, we are still talking about the beers. They have staying power. The flavours are so concentrated that the first sip is a bit of a shocker and then immediately your mouth starts salivating and you can’t wait for more. They taste like MORE.

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How lucky are we – to have all these excellent beers available to us – when just over 5 years ago, ’twas slim pickings.

I know I am always reminding y’all to support your local communities by buying local products, and I am especially going out of my way to help you with your gift giving this year.

You can’t go wrong if you pick and choose from the list above, and if in Galway – pop in to the Salt House to try most of these and a hell of a lot more excellent beers!

Merry Christmas and best wishes for the new year.

WiseMóna

 

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22 Comments + Add Comment

  • We are now over 30 breweries in Ireland, with another 10+ just about to come online.

    • Hi Andrew,
      Jay-sus … I have a lot of drinking to do then! I will amend my blog post to reflect this information.
      Can you send me a link to the rest of them?
      MonaZWise@gmail.com

      • Easier than that- come join Beoir :)

        If you have the App (BeoirFinder) or access our directory at http://www.beoir.org/index.php/craft-beer-directories you can look in the Breweries section. There are a couple that need adding (they launched recently)- Otter Brews, Rascal Brewing and Stone Barrel Brewing.

        • I just joined Beoir!! Delighted to find you Andrew.
          I will stay tuned –
          Móna

  • We currently have 37 craft brewing brands trading, I believe, but in 2014 we will have about 50 craft brewing business operating on the island of Ireland. There are about 30 new startups launching in 2013-2014, and about 20 more established craft breweries.

    http://beerireland.ie/craft-brewers/

    • Hi Sara,
      Thanks for this and for sharing the link – I will include this right away in the blog post.
      I am so excited to see all the excitement around irish Beers right now.
      Móna

    • Are you counting the Molson Coors and C&C owned brands in that figure Sara? And a couple of the sneaky “Irish beer (but brewed in the UK)” brands…

      • Ha! Thanks Adrian – I was wondering if they were all micro breweries or much larger conglomerates?

      • I’ve included anything on my list here : http://beerireland.ie/craft-brewers/ (Bear in mind these are brewing businesses, but not necessarily breweries). Diageo and C&C not included.

        Franciscan Well is Molson owned, but I include it. As you know we at BI don’t necessarily define “craft” as independent, but we do like to see recipe innovation and Micro status as defined by the EU, so FW fits the bill (that could be another huge debate, but we’ll save you the trauma of Beer Nerds squabling, WiseMona!) The only other one that I think is brewed in the UK at the moment is Stone Barrel.

        There seem to be new ones coming onto my radar every day. Some of them aren’t very internet-savvy so it’s hard to know they exist until you stumble upon them!

        • I actually love squabbling beer nerds! Fantastic to know there are so many passionate beer makers and drinkers out there.
          And thanks for the list and links Sara.

  • Cracking stuff there Mona, add to that Donegal brewing, Kinnegar from Rathmullan, Bru, Carlow, Mountain Man, Metalman … deep breath! And there’s loads more. Not to mention ten in Northern Ireland too!

    • It seems the common theme here is that they are all excellent /
      Aren’t we lucky! Must drink more beer.

  • Watch out for a real cracker in the New Year – Mescan Brewery from Westport with Belgian style beers . Mmmmm. Craft beer is so wonderful. Happy Christmas

    • I am on my way to Mayo right now! I really love Belgian style beers and Westport – ah – it can only be gorgeous! Thanks for the heads up. Making a note of it now.

  • Thanks for the kind words, Móna! Great to see Irish beer getting out there!

    • Thanks yourself!
      We do love the Bo Bristle and
      glad to see others are liking it too! Merry Christmas Heather.

    • Bo Bristle’s Brown was one of my favourite beers this year. I’d like to see that in bottles…

      • Sounds lovely – have yet to try that one Andrew / wonder if it is in Galway anywhere …

  • But where do you get them? Not in Lidl?
    And why is there no Clonakilty Wrestler – the superdooper beer that Mick Collins, Emmet Dalton and the lads drank on that fateful day in August 1922.

    • Where can I get me some of that super dooper Clonakilty Wrestler?
      What a fantastic name for a beer! Most of the links I put up for each beer has a tab that shows the locations where they are sold – and in Galway they are all at Cases.ie -

  • Thanks for the information – many of our continental visitors enjoy Dublin’s most famous stout but wonder why we don’t have more domestic brands in the sea of bland lager that seem to dominate our pubs! So glad to see them getting more prominence. We especially love the label design used by the Dungarvan Brewing Company!

    • I agree. I have asked several local pubs in Galway to offer at least one craft Irish beer and have made a decision to only go aces where we can buy Irish beers. There are so many of them
      and they are excellent – I hear the Helvick gold is now in tap … Can’t wait to try it!

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About Móna
I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
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