Cork Area Brewers, 2nd meet: Report
It was a nice but cool evening for the second meeting of the Cork Area Brewers. On November 9th we again took to “the cave”, at the Franciscan Well brewpub situated on the North Mall in Cork city. The cave is an interesting seating area, being basically a tunnelled out cave, which formed part of the underground of the old city. The cave is very apt for a tasting, as you can imagine the monks supping away in there, back in the day. However it might be better suited for summer meetings, as it was absolutely freezing! I think we might move future winter meetings to the fireplace, if we can agree it with the Lee Valley Brewing club, as they are often have meetings there. It may even be an opportunity for a joint meeting, which I think would make sense depending on the numbers.
While we waited for people to gather, we had a couple of Well beers to get us going, and to make sure we weren’t completely free-loading. I stuck to good old Purgatory, while a Rebel Red and a bitter on cask were also on good form, according to the other lads.
We had a smaller crowd this time out, (see picture of previous meeting) but the standard of beer was just as high! We started with Dara’s APA, which I think was mostly cascade late on, and was very tasty indeed, and a good example of the style. After that we tried several of Mr Happy’s (Andy’s) Belgium beers. Mr Happy doesn’t do things by half’s, so had three different beers to sample, which were all very good, although the names of the styles escape me. He didn’t bring his gratzer this time around, which was a shame as it was the closest thing to polish smoked sausage in a glass that I had ever tried. Polish smoked sausage is the only way I could describe it, as I had never actually tried a gratzer before. He kindly offered to share the recipe, but I think it’s more a beer I would enjoy now and then, as it’s definitely an acquired taste, so I’m not sure I would do a batch myself.
Next we moved on to Blunt’s (Cormac’s) wheat beers. Blunt is fast becoming a wheat beer expert, and you could really see the effect of the yeast that he had cultured up from a Paulaner bottle, in his excellent Paulaner clone. We all agreed that for wheat beer it really is all about the yeast.
Peter Lyall who is the head brewer at the Well and chairman of the Lee Brewing Club was also in attendance. This meant that we got to sample a jug of the Well’s latest seasonal special, which is a strong stout aged in Jameson barrels. I tried this stout before it went into the barrel, and it was a lovely balanced beer then, but it has really taken the wood and whiskey from the barrel very well. The whiskey is not overpowering, but there’s a lovely warmth and flavour coming from it. There’s a lovely chocolatey edge to it, which is surprising as people claimed there was no chocolate malt in the recipe. The stout was taken from the conditioning tank, so it will be exciting to try it from the bottle, and from the cask which will be very rare, as I think there are only two being done. The life cycle of the Jameson barrel is worthy of special mention, as previously it obviously had Jameson in it, but before that I think it was bourbon, and now that the stout is out, it’s destined to go to the Caribbean or somewhere similar to be filled with rum. I’m a fan of rum, so would love to try the one that comes out of this barrel, but not sure I have the patience to wait the 10 or 15 years that it will be ageing.
I brought a couple of hopfenweisses that I did earlier this year, due to the fact that most of my recent beers have been kegged. I brought a regular hopfenweiss, and also a pimped up version. The pimped up version had the addition of brown sugar, but I think it jarred against the fruitiness of the hops and the yeast, so I’m more of a fan of the regular one. The pimped up version was also over carbonated, which meant I went home a bit sticky! One of the Well regulars tried the pimped version, and commented it was too hoppy, so I was happy with the comment, even if it wasn’t meant as a compliment! (With the impending group buy of Blichman beer guns, I hope to have a better selection of beers for future events. I’ll be bottling a black IPA this weekend, which I have great hopes for, so will have that for the next meeting.)
Next up we were in for another treat, as Blackbrew (Sam) had managed to persuade award-winning home brewer MAF (Mark Foley), to part with one of the winning beers in the recent Abbeylix homebrew competition. The beer in question was a strong scotch ale, appropriately named as Wee Hibee! This was a really good beer, and at 11.2% ABV, not one to be taken lightly. There was a real depth of maltiness to this beer and while it was definitely boozy, it was still easy to drink. Being a hophead myself, I won’t predictably say that it needed more hops, as I know that style is not about the hops. You can read more about the Wee Hibee at Mark’s blog. Thanks again Mark!
Last but not least, we had Sam’s Galaxy IPA. Sam is a fan of the hops, and it really showed with this beer. It was probably my favourite beer of the night, but I am a hophead, so it figures. Sam did enter this beer at Abbeylix, and it didn’t place, but maybe that was due to the fact that it was still a bit young at the time, or maybe the judges were just looking for something different. We looked at the judging notes, and not sure that we agreed with them, but at least they were made available, and are a guide for future improvements. I don’t think I would be a good judge for a general ale category, as I am so biased towards the hops, that I drink very little that is not very hoppy! Sam also has a black IPA on the way, so it will be interesting to do a comparison at one of the next meets.
We briefly discussed putting a name to this rabble, and taking inspiration from the recently formed and well named Capital Brewers, one scamp did suggest the Real Capital Brewing Club, but I could see legal action coming from our Dublin comrades in relation to that, so no motion was passed. I’m leaning to the Rebel Brewing Club, but that can be decided at another time.
There were also discussions in relation to group buys, joint brews and other things that could bring local brewers together.
I’m not sure if we will have a meet up in December, due to people having various commitments at that time of year, but there are a few things happening at the Well in December, that might be worth a look, so let’s not count anything out yet.
As always, thanks to Shane and the lads at the Franciscan Well for accommodating us, and hopefully these meetings will go from strength to strength. Also a special shout out to Johnny The Pizza Man, who dropped over pizza to us free of charge. I think most of us had eaten already, but his pizza is so tasty that it didn’t last long at all.
Last of all, just a quick disclaimer re all the above, as the names of people, types of beers, order of events could all be slightly off. What’s not in doubt is that an excellent night was had!