Dougall’s Cerveza – Cantabrian Spanish Craft Beer

Treebeard, Guardian of the Beers! 942 in the glass.

Recently, Dominic Lombard, an Irish man, who is a Beer Sommelier, living in Spain got in touch and asked would we be interested in sampling some beers from a Brewery he know’s called Dougall’s. 

From the Cantabria region of Northern Spain, the brewer Andrew set up shop in 2006 to bring hop forward beers to the masses, rather than the usual ice cold lagers that are widely available. After many years of bureaucratic red tape, they got up and running and began the crusade to improve the local beer offerings. 

Using US Hops, and Maris Otter Malts as the base of their beers the team at Dougall’s have given themselves a strong foundation to base themselves on. With a widening portfolio also to cater for other tastes this will see them continue to grow, and now look at exporting. So in Ireland we are luckily able to pick these beers up in Dunne’s Stores a national supermarket chain. 

There are two beers available to us in Ireland. 

Lets start with 942 an American Pale Ale, that comes in at a very sessionable 4.2%. It pours a pale yellow colour, owing to the malt. Pours very clear with no hazing or cloudiness. The aroma on the nose is very pleasing, citrus notes, mainly grapefruit, and orange zest. Now for the taste, it’s quite light, which given it’s a low abv beer is to be expected, but there is a slight bitterness, that makes the palette want more. Not overly carbonated and very pleasing finish. I really enjoyed this. I could definitely see myself drinking this on the Playa on a hot sunny day. It’s easy to see how this beer scores so well on Ratebeer. Definitely a 3.75 out of 5 for me.

Next up we have the Leyenda, or Legend to you and me. Moving up to 5.8%, we have an Extra Special Bitter. A good bit darker, more an amber, due to the presence of crystal malt in the grist. The aroma on this is a little more understated than the 942, there is a light hop aroma, with more malt aromas and biscuit coming through. On tasting the malt flavours are definitely to the fore hear. A pleasant sweetness, leads way to soft hop bitterness. The bitterness is pleasant, and again carbonation is spot on. Hides it’s alcohol quite well, and that’s a sign of a well made beer. Malty beers aren’t really my style, but this is solid, so 3/5 for me.

My preference of the two is the 942 personally, but for those who prefer a malt forward beer the Leyenda will scratch that particular itch.

I note that the brewery have mentioned they are hoping to have a canning line installed, and the 942 is a beer that would lend itself well to canning, and retain a lot of those vital hop characteristics.

Sláinte, or should that be Salud!

*Please note, these beer samples were provided by DouGall’s for review.*

Craft Beer & Food pairing at The Ritz

So Friday night we joined Simon Says and the Athlone beer club for one of their monthly meetings. While it was my first time to meet up, Wayne had the pleasure of attending before. Simon organized a great event for the night, a craft beer and food pairing evening hosted by The Ritz aptly named #HopsAtTheRitz. Unsurprisingly there was a terrific turn out on the night. The guys put together a wonderful menu with some great beers.While I read over it I began with a pale ale from St Mels 
First course was smoked hake, warm nicoise salad topped with a boiled quail egg and citrus salsa verdi. This was beautiful and light with great flavours. Its matching beer was a brilliant choice in Mescan Blond. A delicious beer weighing in at 5.5% with a great creamy smooth finish.
Up next was a wonderfully prepared Pan seared wood pigeon, puy lentil with blackberry jus and a micro herb salad. This was so very tasty. To accompany it was Mescan Tripel. I really enjoyed this course but personally felt the beer didn’t quite suit the dish. Both are beautiful, just not together. 
Our third course was a baked sweet potato and cumin soup with sweet potato crisp and home-made bread. Young Dave Guilfoyle of Bo Bristle brought along a specially brewed beer for the evening. A simply stunning Strong Amber at 7.8%. I thought this was the perfect match. There was a slight kick to the soup that was complimented by the sweet caramel goodness of the beer. 
Following that we enjoyed Braised beef cheek with horseradish mash, baby veg with wild mushroom and smoked lardon jus. The cheeks were so tender and mouth watering and the mash was gorgeous. Such a generous portion size. This was paired with Beoir Na Nollaig by Mescan. A lovely strong dark ale with sweet spicy taste. 
Last but certainly not least was dessert! An amazing warm chocolate fondant with ginger nut crumble and vanilla bean ice cream. This was pure heaven. I loved how it oozed as soon as i took my first spoonful. The beer chosen for this dish was a new one from Black Donkey. A Biere De Garde called Arigna #1 at 7.5%. This one was not to my taste but I know Wayne really enjoyed it. 
This was a fantastically well organised event that offered amazing value for money. We enjoyed these five stunning courses with the accompanying beers for €35. Well done to Simon and all the staff at The Ritz. We’ll definitely see you again!

Podcast Episode Fifteen – How to be a "Beer Pornographer" and a look forward to Alltech Brews & Food 2016

This week sees the first Irish Beer Snob podcast episode with a live guest recording alongside our Intrepid Duo. We have Instagram legend, Pierce Cooney of @Son0vaGun ( ) to share his tips for excellent Instagram Beer Photography.

We also visited McHugh’s Off Licence in Kilbarrack, Dublin for the beer for today’s episode – we had Mescan Brewery Red Tripel, and a Growler of Lagunitas Mozango IPA with Mango. 

Pierce and his padawan apprentice

Here are some practical tips for you to improve your Instagram photography from the master himself.

  • Plan your photo, sounds like common sense but really helps
  • Try use natural light if you can, however some people use Light boxes
  • Choose a nice background, use places of interest, landmarks etc, make it not just about the beer.
  • Take your photo from a low angle, turn your phone / camera upside down if necessary
  • Take plenty of shots, from a variety of angles, then choose your favourite
  • Use Hash Tags! (Save them somewhere and copy and paste them!
Helping to get that “Shot”
Pierce’s 3 Favourite Beer Photo Instagram Accounts
  1. @BeerFarts – Beer & Lego what’s not to love
  2. @FantasticFilm – Pierce’s #PrizelessPrize Nemesis
  3. @Commodore_NB_Pants – a US based instagrammer
We had great fun recording this episode, where we also have a look forward to the upcoming Alltech Brews & Food Fair in Dublin’s Convention Centre, Feb 5th to 7th. Loads more info on the website here tickets still available and if you’re there on Friday don’t forget to register for the Guinness World Record attempt for worlds largest beer tasting.

The good folk at Alltech have kindly given us a pair of tickets to give away to one lucky listener to bring themselves and a friend to the festival on a day of their choosing. Please note the competition will close on Friday 29th January at 5pm. Winner will be chosen at random, and must be able to collect the prize.

To win all you have to do is answer this simple question;

What was Pierce’s favourite beer in 2015?
Hint: Listen to the podcast to find out

Once you have your answer, please comment below this post on the blog – entries are only accepted if posted to this page.

You can now find our podcast by searching for “Irish Beer Snob” in iTunes, by direct download link here or by adding our RSS to your favourite podcast listening app which is

@BoundaryBrewing Co-Operative – Join the movement!

In just under 12 months of trading, the first Irish Brewery to establish themselves as a Co Op – where each shareholder gets 1 vote. Is getting ready to raise further capital to further enable them to continue their expansion.

Last years stats were mind boggling, they raised more than their target in 8 days, they were looking to raise £70,000, they raised £100,000. Upon reaching this landmark amount the fundraising stopped immediately, leaving many disappointed investors, myself included.

So the opportunity to join the already 447 member strong Co-Operative is going live on Monday 7th December @ 9am. Presales to members have been going really well, given that by 1730 on Sunday 6th they’d raised over £20,000.

Over £20,000 in 2 days.Open to the public from tomorrow.Join the waiting list and don’t miss out!
Posted by Boundary Brewing on Sunday, 6 December 2015

I spoke to Matthew Dick, Brewer & Board Member last week about what their goals are and what they hope to bring with this round of fund raising. It was a great old chat on Skype as he was tasting a sneaky sample of a new Boundary beer. Principally the funds will be used to purchase packaging equipment? So this means the brewery team will be able to package automatically in an efficient manner. Rather than the manual bottle filling that takes place courtesy of the army of volunteers the Brewery has. This will enable the guys to get more of the beers out quicker. There are a number of other things, but mainly, this investment series will enable Boundary to scale up their production, and commence exporting to ROI, and mainland UK very quickly.

So what are the financial details?

  • Minimum Investment £100
  • Max Investment £20,000
  • Open world wide to anyone (that can process Stripe payments)
  • Capital Investment will commence being repaid after a period of 3 Yrs, at a rate of up to 5% of your investment amount per annum + Dividend if the brewery is profitable
  • For your investment you get 1 vote at the AGM
So if you are looking for a locally based Beer related investment, then look no further. This would make a great Christmas present for the Beer lover in your life. Check out their website from 9am Monday 7th December, 

Get in Early to avoid disappointment.

Burgers & Beers by the Beach in Bray

Back in October new restaurant, Box Burger celebrated their launch night in Bray. Being massive fans of casual dining we were gutted we couldn’t make it. So for Wayne’s birthday we chose to pay a visit. On a chilly Sunday morning we wrapped up and began our journey.Once we arrived in Bray, Box Burger was a short two minute walk from the train station. Its been years since I was last in Bray. The funfair was still there back then!

We had a table booked and we were slightly late but on arrival we received a lovely warm welcome. We were shown to our table which faced the kitchen part of the restaurant. The atmosphere is really laid back, and the seating is so comfortable with a mixture of tables and booths, even bar stools overlooking the kitchen. First thing we checked out was the drinks menu. They literally have something for everyone, from craft beer to cocktails and everything in between. Of course we ordered craft beers while we chose our food, Wicklow Wolf Amber for me and O Brother Chancer for the birthday boy. Both breweries which are Bray natives so it was only fitting we had these.

A few days beforehand I browsed the menu on their website, which you can view here, and already knew what I was going to order. After skipping breakfast we ordered a feast. We started with their buffalo chicken wings which we decided to share a portion of. There were served with a lovely blue cheese dip which I could drink by the bucket load.

My eyes nearly popped out of my head when my burger arrived. I decided on the blue cheese burger. After dreaming of this for days it didn’t disappoint, a beef pattie served on a steamed brioche bun loaded with lettuce, onion, ketchup and mayo, mustard and pickle with a generous helping of blue cheese and even bacon. A tower of tasty heaven! For my side I ordered dirty fries, covered in pepper sauce and bacon! Absolutely delicious.

Wayne chose the Mac & Cheese. Who knew this could be so tasty, a burger  with mac&cheese topped with american cheddar. I had burger envy! In hindsight we should have cut them both down the middle and had a half of each. He ordered the box fries as his side. Fries covered in chicken gravy, onion and cheese. Not my cup of tea at all but he enjoyed them (northern boys love their gravy chips) Needless to say we devoured our food.

After the mains settled the waitress offered the dessert menu and literally sold us on the mini donuts. These were little rings of sugary goodness sprinkled in cinnamon and drizzled in chocolate sauce. These were served with soft ice cream. We both agreed we’d come back for those alone! This is a dessert made for sharing/fighting over!

We enjoyed our experience so much. The staff were all so friendly and the food was delicious. If you haven’t tried it out what on earth are you waiting for!!

We finished our day off in Bray with a flying visit to The Harbour Bar. They were having a growler weekend. When we arrived we spotted young Barry from O Brother brewing doing a tasting. Also Simon from Wicklow Wolf was floating around with samples of their Amber Ale and Elevation IPA. I spotted a sign for hot cider so I couldn’t resist ordering one from Kym. The cider used was from Craigies, another Wicklow native! A perfect way to thaw out on what was a freezing day.

We enjoyed a few glasses of beer and a chat with the brewers before we got to take a growler away. We chose The Chancer from O Brother. It didn’t last long, we opened it straight away when we got home. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and definitely worth the trip. We can’t wait to return.

A Belgian Odyssey

As I sit here writing this post – which is primarily a look back at the recent European Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference it strikes me that this in fact the 100th post on the blog. (100 might be a bit of a stretch as some are of our podcast episodes) but nonetheless. It is a significant milestone we have achieved here. It’s quite fitting we are now writing about our experiences.

Those of you that follow us on Twitter or who are friends with us on Facebook / Instagram etc will have seen that we were in Europe before the conference. We started off in the beautiful port city of Bordeaux in South West France, and met some great people – this will be covered in another post. We then stopped in Paris for a whistle stop tour less than 48 Hrs in length, but this didn’t stop us discovering some great parts of the Parisienne beer scene. 

This brings us nicely onto our visit to Brussels. I’m embarrassed to say this is my first visit to Brussels, not to Belgium, I know we stopped somewhere in Belgium on our way to Germany on a school tour when I was a teen. It was fitting that we were going to one of the most famous beer producing countries, even though they only produce 1% of the worlds beer, it’s a place steeped in tradition, pride and history. 

Ever since the itinerary for EBBC was published we’ve been really excited to see what Belgium has to offer. We are quite fortunate in Ireland we get a lot of really great Belgian beer however I was excited to try more of what Belgium has to offer, both from the long established brewers, and the new up and coming breed that are emerging in Belgium. 

We arrived, and registered. Once the formalities were completed we had a lovely lunch of local dishes with a range of diverse beers. Among the beers we tried was Dry Hopped Saison by Dupont which was brought to another level with the dry hopping. The hop used was Minstrel. However one that absolutely blew me away was the Timmermans Oude Geuze, a delightfully tart beer which served as a wonderful palate cleanser in between courses. However there was one beer that really challenged my perceptions and that was the Liefman’s Kriek Brut, for those who don’t know this is a mixed fermentation partial spontaneous and partial re-fermentation in the bottle. They put 13kg of Cherries in for maturation per hectolitre.  The guys from Liefmans even went a step further which included a chocolate covered cherry and a great blue cheese for matching. 

We then settled in for a packed afternoon agenda which included a press conference from the Belgian Family Brewers which gave us a very broad outline as to why they set up and what they hope to achieve – I’m going to discuss this in a later blog post. Which all lead up to the Live Beer Blogging, which saw us trying 12 beers from 12 different brewers in 1 hour. All the while blogging while trying. You can see my post on this here which i’ll fix up and add more notes to. Just imagine speed dating with beer. Next time, I might just do this on Instagram or Twitter! 

Following swiftly on from the Live blogging, was dinner in the beautiful Belga Queen which used to be a bank. It’s also home to the swankiest bathrooms i’ve ever seen. Here we were treated to more great hospitality and beers. One that I was particularly impressed with was the Mikkeller / Lindeman’s Spontanbasil collaboration. We finished off the evening in Delerium Cafe, however after a long day we moved on to the bar in the Hotel Metropole and a couple of beers on the terrace on a lovely summer’s evening. 

Janice and I with Aidan Sweeney of – Photo Courtesy of Aidan Sweeney

Day 2 was a similarly busy day – with a packed agenda again. Which undoubtedly contained the most hotly debated topic simply entitled “Beer Marketing – How does beer blogging and writing fit in to the broader subject of beer marketing?” Now I must confess I expected fireworks, as when I was chatting to Johnny of Brewdog in advance I got the impression that Jean had something to say. However we were led off by Sofie Vanrafelghem of Sofies World who is railing against gender marketing and is leading events to encourage women to try beer, especially those that say they don’t like beer! We also heard of the ridiculous restraints that Tom Young of Nogne has to deal with when they market their beers in Norway. Johnny Moran of Brewdog told us how Brewdog view bloggers as vital in spreading their company’s message of telling people about great beer. 

// the stage was set. You knew it was going to be interesting when Jean started with the dictionary definition of a brewer, and brewery. He then proceeded to rail against Mikkeller, and all gypsy brewers, going as far as describing these as Fake Brewers. Now, i think at this stage Jean had maybe misjudged his audience or even used a bad example. I don’t think his ire was specifically aimed at Mikkeller but more the private label operators who are setting up in Belgium who may brew the same beer for three companies and it’s not specifically identified where it’s brewed etc. This isn’t a uniquely Belgian problem. 

However when using Mikkeller as his example, who states where his beer is made on each bottle, was a little confusing. Ultimately the point he was trying to make was that Bloggers in particular are needed to state the truth – the truth isn’t a bad thing, but I don’t think bloggers would criticise someone like Mikkeller for being a gypsy brewer, as he’s always been upfront with that, but we do and often criticise some of the beer he produces. Thankfully this passed off without more than a difference of opinion, but it was an interesting insight into how some folks view Gypsy Brewers. 

I was privileged to be one of the Bloggers who got to give a five minute report on a subject of their choosing. Given the fledgling Irish Beer Scene, I spoke about this however it was really informative listening to Matt Curtis of Total Ales who gave a really good session on improving your photography on your blog, and importantly told us that you can achieve good results using your smart phone, just be sure to use natural sunlight and editing software. Also of particular interest was Jeffrey Michael the Biking Brewer who had cycled half ways around Europe to be with us! Also The Baron Ormskirk told us how it was possible to blog and produce audio for very little out lay. 

This and the next session The Science of Sour Beers – Presented by Petrus were my two favourite events. We got to try the main beers in the sour range by Brouwerij De Brabandere. The oud bruin, the aged red, and we also got to try the mother beer, the aged pale. Which as part of the history of this beer, credit has to be given to the late Michael Jackson who persuaded the brewery to unleash the mother beer on the public. But the fun didn’t stop there – we were encouraged to make our own blend of the beers as after all everyone’s palettes are different. Personally I loved the 100% Aged Pale, but give it a drop of the aged red and it was a different beast altogether. To that end I hope that they get a distributor here in Ireland – and i’ll start pestering the ones I know now!

We finished off with a monster meal courtesy of Pilsner Urquell where we were presented with a customised Beer Mug and the opportunity to pour our own pints of Pilsner Urquell which was being served from the tank which was shipped in the previous day. 

All in all we had a great time, was it perfect no, but it’s very hard to put something this big on with some things not being 100% but in the main it was a very positive experience. I certainly took a lot from it. We’ve so much to write about over the coming weeks and months we’ll revisit our visits to Bruges and Leuven also. Also – where else would you get to sample more than 125 beers! I don’t even know how accurate that count is!