Franciscan Well – Cask & Winter Ale Festival 2014

It may just have been St Valentines day, but Janice and I didn’t celebrate this infamous holiday in the traditional manner, oh no, you know at this stage that’s not my style.

The day itself we went on a little pub crawl of the Galway Bay Pubs in Dublin, taking in the new bar Alfie Byrnes which is situated in the basement of the Conrad Hotel. Against the Grain on Wexford St. We then had a fantastic dinner in Bison, a 51oz Cowboy Steak (A Ribeye with the bone in) along with 5 sumptuous sides and a cocktail each for €50.

Cowboy Steak from Bison

  Of course we ended the night with Alan and the crew in Brewdock.

Alas, I digress, on the Saturday we went down to Cork, to visit the 3rd Annual Franciscan Well Cask & Winter Ale Festival 

For those who don’t know Franciscan Well is a Cork based brew pub and brewery who are massive supporters of Irish Craft Beer. Cask is really a niche within a niche of craft beer consumption in Ireland but it offers such a different way to enjoy some of your favourite breweries. There was also some of the newer brewers present on Keg, such as Otterbank with their amazing Farami, Rascals with their award winning Ginger Porter, and N17 with their Rye Ale.

Bru Brewery had 3 of their products on that day, I didn’t see the Dubh, maybe it ran out on the first night, as i’d had a sneak of it previously and its such a great stout on cask. I was really impressed with the which is their west coast IPA. Very bright in colour, a nice malt base that allowed the hops to do their thing with the piney citrus aroma followed by a smooth bitterness. Daire mate you can be truly happy with that as the feedback from everyone I spoke to was great. 

Bru Rí on the Cask Bar

2013 Dublin Cup winner Twisted Hop by Hilden was also here on cask, a lovely straw colour with a white head and great smooth flavour. Trent and Amber both by White Gypsy were both also really good.

Another real standout for me was Hop Magnet by Blacks of Kinsale, fresh off the back of their success at Alltech, they’d brought a fantastic Double IPA to the party. Not long ago Ireland was a wasteland in this style now we have 3 of these. At 8% this is not to be treated lightly, but it like Of Foam and Fury is eminently drinkable despite its ABV. The aroma was nice and you got a great citrus, clementine taste on the tongue as well. Sam already has two great permanent fixtures, be great to see this become the third.

As an aside to the beer, and the proper stone oven cooked pizza provided by Pompeii pizza. There was also a meet the brewer series. I only attented the talks by the utterly inspirational Sarah Roarty who outlined her journey from Industrial Chemist to Brewer, and what her motivations and aims are. Thankfully I didn’t make Sarah cry this time! A truly great story and keep an eye out for N17 Brewing coming to a pub / off license near you. 

I also attended Phil from the Mountain Man who held a great informative Q&A session. One thing is for sure I can’t wait to see your set up at the RDS this year and my offer to man the bar is still there (Better start growing the beard now, or at least get a decent fake one) We also got a sneak peak of the next Mountain Man beer, Crazy Horse, the 100 IBU is delish.

All in all a great day was had, we got the train back to Dublin that evening. I’m already looking forward to this next year where i’m sure it will as great as it was this weekend. Coming up shortly is the Irish Craft Beer Fest in CHQ in March and potentially a return to Franciscan Well for their Easter Fest.

The week that was featuring Ugly Duckling Dublin and Bison Bar

Something i’ve always thought, the days that are totally unplanned, are usually by and large the best days. I hope i’m not the only person to think this.

It was a long week, but a work mate of mine and I decided to call into the lads @Uglyducklingdub Cafe in the Epicurean Food Hall on Abbey St for lunch on Thursday – now we’d both been fortunate enough to win a free lunch from the lads. Day before pay day it was only natural to use this up.

Darragh, Derek and John are the team behind it, a lot of you would know Darragh from his days up running against the grain. 

For those that don’t know the Epicurean Food Hall, its one of those gems in the city where you can choose from many national cuisines, even Leo Burdocks, and eat in a communal environment. Its great. And the Ugly Duckling is the latest addition to this culinary mecca. They’ve only just celebrated their four week anniversary.

Now, the first thing that I see on the menu, is its good food done well. Having gotten to know one another we decided what we wanted, me being a stickler for wings went for the wings and chips, which would have cost me €7.95, and Andy went for the Homemade Beef Burger. While chatting away Derek said he was going to give us a taster of a few things. 

First up, Roasted Tomato Soup, it was served in a cappuccino cup with a sprinkling of cheese, and slice of granary bread. The flavours were really vibrant and the cheese topped it off nicely. A nice sampler to get the juices flowing. But they weren’t stopped there. Next up was a half a hot meal roll each, this with turkey breast, honey glazed bacon, cranberry relish and salad, but the crowning piece for me was the addition of gravy to the roll. Good lord. Fantastic. At only €6.45 this item represents to me fantastic value. The meat changes on a daily basis also.

From Top Left: Hot Meat Roll, Wings, Wings and Burgers, and Soup – Credit to Andy @Bakingbatchelor for the photo.

Then our food came. My wings were refreshingly not made with the Franks Hot Sauce style sauce, but a sweet chilli sauce based one, the wings were lovely and crispy, and smothered in a vibrant sauce, woken up by the addition of fresh coriander, with nice chunky chips and a dip. Andy’s homemade burgers looked great too. Just like Mammy used to make, two nice patty’s smothered in gravy with mushrooms and onion. The lads promised we’d leave full, I couldn’t finish my portion of wings but Derek gladly wrapped em up for me to go and that was Mrs IBS’ supper sorted. The guys are offering some really nice food for a really keen price. Definitely check them out.

I was texting a buddy of mine who mentioned that he was up in Dublin for the day on Saturday and would we be round for a scoop and catch up. Looked at the calendar and said sure why not. Having grabbed a delicious Two Spots Coffee we met up in the Grand Central Pub on O’Connell St, no point asking for craft beer here, they’d give you a Caledonian Smooth and you’d be lucky. Usually I revert to Guinness in these places and it didn’t disappoint.

Soon bellies started to rumble, and decided to use the opportunity to grab some food at Bison Bar (Wellington Quay next to the clarence, next to the Millenium Walkway). Our group was all confirmed carnivores so what better place to go. A bit of a walk down the quays avoiding the pondlife that plagues our streets at times, we got there. Instantly as you walk in the waft of charcoal smoke mixed with cooking meat hits you. We grabbed some menus and had a look. 

They have a lunch special which runs from 12-5pm for 7.95 (5 quid if you take away) you get a Brisket or Pull Pork Sandwich with one side. I opted for Brisket, and Mrs IBS for the Pork. The lads then went for chicken, ribs, and brisket as mains with 2 sides for 13.95. There is a sampler option available for 14.95 also. You order at the bar and sit down.

Loads of crazy americana on the walls, kind of reminded me of Uncle Moes in the simpsons but in a good way, but most importantly the food was of fantastic quality. Washed down with a pint and a whiskey sour I can’t believe I waited so long to visit. Make no mistake this is genuine Texas BBQ – mouthwatering Texas BBQ, oh and I would swim in the Mustard BBQ Sauce!

My only quibble was the poor selection of craft beers, they had some Williams Brothers from Scotland, but lads would it be too much to ask for one or two local choices. Something like Blacks Kinsale Pale Ale would go really well here. 

With that we moved on to have another few drinks. Later that evening we went to Probus, but that is deserving of a post of its own. Stay tuned for that.