Golden Pints 2014 – The Podcast Edition

This year, rather than the traditional written scribe of Golden Pints, we decided to do it as a podcast. 

It’s up on Itunes now, the feed link is for those on Android or don’t use Itunes, and the direct link to the MP3 for download is here

We broadly followed the same format as the Golden Pints, and ramble on a bit too.

So here are some of the areas we cover.
  • Best Irish Beer 2014 – Keg / Bottle
  • Best International / UK Beer 2014 – Keg / Bottle
  • Best Beer in Can / Bottle
  • Best Cask
  • Best Pub
  • Best Beer Experience
  • Best Off licence

Having listened back to the podcast, i’ve decided to summarise here (Janice’s in Italics)

My Best Irish Beer 2014 – 8 Degrees Full Irish – a full on hop forward pale ale – deliciously drinkable. Honourable mentions to Bo Bristle Imp Red and their Double IPA
Bo Bristle Imperial Red – big malty hoppy beer that we were privileged to have at Snobfest in Navan

Best Uk / International Beer: Brewdog – Black Eyed King Imp what a great dark beer, barrel aged version of Cocoa Psycho essentially – as mad as it sounds, and tastes amazing. Honourable mentions to Gamma Ray and Black Betty by Beavertown, and Magic Rock – Cannon Ball
Beavertown Gamma Ray – on Draught and Can one of my absolute favourites

Best Can – Gamma Ray – Beavertown – honourable mention for Oskar Blues G’Knight
Same as Wayne – Gamma Ray

Best Cask – Brú Autumn Ale was fantastic, as well as their core beers. Honourable mentions to Stone Barrel with their fantastic Day Trippin’ American Pale
Brú Autumn Ale – really enjoyed this at the ICBCF

Best Pub – This year, for me Farringtons  The Norseman, have stepped it up a gear – not only do they have a huge range of craft with macro to keep everyone happy they do nice food and have a massive whiskey selection – the new website really sends them over the top. Honourable mentions – Brewdock (aka my 2nd Home) Smyth’s on the Square Navan, The Oarsman Carrick on Shannon, and PJ Kavanagh’s Portlaoise. 
Smyth’s on The Square Navan – Huge Range of Craft in Bottles, and Arthur is such a great host

Best Beer Experiences, you’ll just have to listen to the podcast 🙂

Best Off Licence: Drinkstore, both for Offline and Online dealings – Superb. Honourable mentions to Smyth’s Navan, The Winehouse Trim, and Probus Wines which gave me one of the best experiences of 2014.
Carryout in Tyrellstown because they’ve a great range of craft, but the added bonus of the growler station – meaning we can enjoy some great draught only beers at home

Please share yours with us. Merry Christmas to all our readers/listeners, hope your 2014 was as good, and that 2015 is a great year

#craftbeerunlaoisd – Beer Festival @ Kavanaghs, Main St, Portlaoise, 29th November

Our Second Festival is Coming up this Saturday in Kavanagh’s Pub on Main Street, Portlaoise, Co Laois.

Festivities start at 4pm til late, entrance is €10, which includes two beer tokens and food from the BBQ. There is also live music and DJ to keep you entertained.

Breweries in Attendance will be Bo Bristle, White Gypsy, and introducing, debutants 12 Acres Brewing and Slieve Bloom Drinks. Vanguard Beer Collective will also be here with some further Irish Producers and we will have Egan’s Off Licence showing their wide range of craft beer hampers.

Come along, you can buy tickets at, or pay cash on the door.

Lunch at Brasserie Blanc Bristol

So a few weeks ago I was in Bristol visiting some family, relaxing before the silly season descends on us. It was a short but sweet trip, but packed with fun, beer and of course good food.

As a treat my cousin surprised myself and my mum to a fabulous lunch at Brasserie Blanc. This is a chain of restaurants by French chef Raymond Blanc, with 20 locations throughout England, 7 of those in London alone.

The restaurant itself is situated in the shopping quarter known as Cabot Circus. The building is quite impressive, a renovated court house! Upon entering you’re immediately welcomed by a lovely friendly and relaxed atmosphere. But what’s striking is the amazing interior, especially the wall of wine that greets you.

We were brought to our table and with it being early we were all good and ordered soft drinks. After scanning and salivating over the extensive A LA Carte and set menus, we ordered food.

First up for me was cauliflower soup with grana padano cheese. This was so stunningly creamy. Seasoned to perfection I was just short of licking the bowl clean. My cousin went for the same.

Next to try was their baked french onion & gruyere tart. This was served with a delicious light and crispy green salad. I took my time with this as I savoured every mouthful. I just didn’t want it to end. It was utterly define.

My mums choice of dish was their wonderfully prepared rainbow beetroot salad. The colours alone were amazing. While my cousin chose thyme scented pork meatballs, pan fried in tomato sauce, served with saute potatoes. We were all in food heaven.

It really is true what they say, there’s always room for dessert. For my choice I went with pear conde. A beautifully chilled dish. Poached pears with rice pudding, drizzled in a cointreau sauce. This was the dish of the day for me.

I thoroughly enjoyed everything about our dining experience here. So much so that I’m only dying to revisit with Wayne next time. Perhaps when we’re next in Leeds.

The Wolf Is Coming – Wicklow Wolf Brewery – Amber Ale

The craft beer revolution continues abound in the Republic of Ireland, with what seems to be new breweries popping up every second. It’s nearly impossible to keep track. But what is interesting seeing where they end up being available and who they are distributed by.

Fourcorners have taken the wolf into their stable – which given the range in their portfolio this in itself is a huge compliment to the beers that are being produced. The team have an IPA, an Amber which i’m reviewing this evening, and a Kentucky Common Ale. They also have a wet hopped beer using their own hops and I look forward to trying this beer.

Firstly, can I just say I love the labelling – the silhouette of the wolf is great – and is a striking label that would make me pick it up off the shelf.

Ambers, in Ireland we are fortunate to have some great ambers available to us, but this is different – feels more earthy, made with citra hops which have that unmistakeable aroma, even if it is a little bit muted. But a lovely caramel malty sweetness. There is a nice slightly dry finish on the palette too. This beer weighs in at 4.8%. It has a really appealing colour to me with a lovely slightly off white head that lingers as you drink it.

As with most beers the complexion of flavour opens up when it warms up a bit.  

I picked this up in Probus Wines on Fenian St, and look forward to seeing and trying more of the range over the coming while. Thanks Paul for looking after me as always – see you soon.

Bath Ales

Recently I enjoyed a trip across the pond to Bristol with my mum for a few days. Got to spend quality time with my family. I was delighted when i arrived to find they bought some beers for me to enjoy. My cousin was delighted to tell me they were local beers too.

Bath Ales was established in 1995, with their brewery located in Warmley, situated between Bath & Bristol. They even boast 12 pubs, which sadly I didnt get to visit (always next time)

First up to try was Golden Hare, described as full flavoured light ale. When I poured it there was a citrus aroma that was mirrored by the taste. Had a very thin head. Was light and crisp to drink. At 4.4% it was a nice drinkable ale. I would have preferred it to be a little more bitter in taste.

Next up was Wild Hare, an organic pale ale at 5%. Poured a golden colour that was slightly cloudy. Nice hop smell to this one. The label described brewed using pale ale malt and english hops. This was nice and refreshing to drink. Slightly more bitter so appealled to me more. Nice dry finish to it.

Barnsey, “our distinctive dark bitter” at 4.5% was next. Poured a lovely deep mahogany colour. The aroma was quite nice, fruity with a hint of chocolate. It was a lovely smooth taste, quite sweet like caramel, with a slight bitter finish. It went quite well with the beef casserole I enjoyed for dinner.

Finishing my night was Dark Side, a stout at 4.0%. Now stouts are usually not my go to drink but I really enjoyed this one. It was very smooth and creamy to drink. The head did disappear after a couple of minutes. The aroma was like coffee but tasted like chocolate. It was a very pleasant stout to drink.

I had quite an enjoyable time trying these beers, looking forward to a return visit so I can try the rest. 

Hop O’ween! The Hop Monsters Strike Back!

This halloween, I wanted to blog about something different. Every man and his dog is blogging about pumpkin beers, which is great. However, while I like pumpkin beer as much as the next guy, sometimes I want to get a bit feral and go wild! 

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Halloween is a traditional time of year when kids dress up as scary things, so what if we lined up some intense beers, Hop Monsters. Stuff thats like Jason Voorhees ploughing through the camp murdering and assaulting at will. So i’m gonna pair these beers with some of my favourite horror films!

So the line up tonight starts low and goes on to the finisher.

Our running order this evening;

1: Brewdog – Dead Pony Club 3.8% ABV
2: Beavertown – Gamma Ray – 5.4% ABV
3: Ska Brewing – Modus Hoperandi – 6.8% ABV
4: Brewdog – Jack Hammer 7.2% ABV
5: Mikkeller – Hop Burn High – 10% ABV
6: Evil Twin – Molotov Cocktail 13% ABV

I equate the progression of these beers like going from a PG13 film to an R Rated Massacre film like Halloween, or Friday the 13th.

First up – Dead Pony Club – a fun jaunty affair, but like Evil Dead : Army’s of Darkness, plenty of hops to get your attention here, without you wanting to cower behind the couch. Like Ash’s chainsaw, it’ll lob off your head if you underestimate it. Great balance and flavour – perfect session beer, and just right to get the palette warmed up

Next up, one of my all time favourites, Beavertown’s Gamma Ray – here we’ve stepped it up a bit, lots of hop and fruity action here, but enough strength to start you worrying, kinda like Let the Right One In. You know this thing can be dangerous if you toy around with it. It might look like fun, but like those Aliens in Mars Attacks it will destroy you if you take on too much! Absolute cracker this, if you see this in bottle or can (we don’t have it on draught yet) go for the can, its a better beer in can in my opinion.

Now we move stateside, and like Wrong Turn (and its 5 sequels), things are ramping up a notch, Denver Colorado maniacs Ska Brewing have unleashed Modus Hoperandi on us. Again in Can form. Its also made some appearances on draught in Ireland. This is a tropical fruit flavour bomb, which is so juicy you just want more! Don’t get greedy though as this thing will knock you down quick smart. The piney smell will almost make you think you’re running away from those inbred hillbillies in Wrong Turn!

Back up to the wilds of Aberdeenshire, for Brewdog’s Jackhammer. The matching horror film here is 2003’s Toolbox Murders, in which the protagonist uses a variety of tools to dispatch his hapless victims, including of course a hammer! This is Brewdog’s homage to West Coast IPAs, a single malt and an insane amount of hops. This 7.2% beaut tastes upfront of tropical / citrussy fruits, then the bitterness whacks your noggin like that hammer and lasts as it goes down.

Next up is those wild guys from Mikkeller. Hop Burn High an Imperial IPA – just like leatherface in Texas Chainsaw, this thing will cut you up! God Damn! Insane aroma on this thing, it smells like it would destroy you! Burning my nasal hairs! The aroma fades to a resinous and viscous mouthfeel almost sweetness that finishes to a dry and bitter finish. This is a big beer. Make no mistakes! 

The finale, Molotov Cocktail – by Evil Twin – not to be outdone by his brother over in Mikkeller, he’s gone full hop cannon! Like Event Horizon, you won’t need taste buds where we’re going as the insane amount of hops in this beer will render them numb, instantly on contact. However I get a really sweet taste off this upfront, no doubt boozy as its 13% but doesn’t taste like that ABV. This thing will send you to another dimension.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this spin on beer at Halloween, I still like pumpkin beers, and have a couple to enjoy. But lets remember, hops are kings for me, and the hoppier the better. Thanks to my local indie off licences who stock these beers!