Friday, December 23, 2011

The 12 CraftBeer Pubs of Christmas

The possibly not so old tradition of the 12 pubs of Christmas seems to be gaining momentum in Dublin these days and while it may be fun for those on board the journey for the rest of us it can be annoying. Large gangs of people festooned in Christmas jumpers barge into pubs, lash down a pint and hit the road to the next pub.   If you don't know what I'm on about, and you don't like beer, now is the time to look away. You might recall the 12 days of Christmas song and instead of useless gifts replace it with tasty beer. In my case beautiful Irish craftbeer.

SO last Wednesday I recruited 8 other members from my workplace, who wanted to be enlightened on craftbeer, and off we set. The idea being we visit 12 pubs and drink 12 different Irish craftbeers. Not likely I hear you say but it actually is fairly easy these days considering the rise of quality beer in the capital's bars. With the help of's beerfinder app it was plain sailing. The App lists all pubs stocking craftbeer and is regularly updated to keep you at the cutting edge of drinking. 

Armed with the App and knowing I had an expectant audience who needed to visit some quality establishments we hit the road.

Here is a rundown of where we went and how we fared.

1 Against The Grain - Wexford St- Tom Creans Lager - pint. Had a nice spot of lunch here. The enormous chips are fantastic. Huge selection of irish craft beers on tap as well as many other favourites and surprises in bottle form. Great staff to guide you too.

2 The Long Hall - South Great George's St- Galway Hooker - pint. A lovely old pub that gleams from the outside. Nice big window to sit at and watch the madness outside. Hooker was the only Irish micro on tap.

3 The Bank - Dame St - Headless Dog - bottle. Can be a busy spot and full of bustle. Carraig lager on tap as well as Hooker. Decent range of Hilden in the fridge.

4 O'Neill's - Suffolk St - 8 Degrees Brewing Sun Burnt Irish Red - pint. A very large selection of craftbeer here but I'm not convinced about the quality of cellarmanship at times.

5 PorterHouse Central - Nassau St - Bohemia Freak Out - half. Another busy spot anytime of day. Full range of PH beers plus a few other micros on tap.

6 Doyles - Fleet St. - O'Haras IPA - pint. You can be find a quiet corner at the right time of day. IPA was the only craftbeer available on tap.

7 Bowes - Fleet St - O'Haras Red - half. Great pub and a well looked after ale. They shift at least a keg a week and even more of the IPA they tell me.

8 Messrs Maguire - Burgh Quay - Jul Ol - pint. This seasonal is malty and very satisfying at 6%. Get in here early to avoid the madness.

9 Palace bar - Fleet Street - Dungarvin - Copper Coast Cask - half. It's great to see cask in so many pubs but they need to be on the ball and realise when a beer is past it's best. I like copper coast and this was nearly as good as it usually is but maybe the furnace heat in the jammed packed palace bar doesn't help it.

10 Farringtons - Templebar - Metalman IPA. A bit of a surprise on the craftbeer front but they offer quite the selection and in a lot better condition than elsewhere.

11 Porterhouse Templebar - Celebration Stout 12%. No more needs to be said about this place.

12 Bull and Castle - Lord Edward St - 8 Degrees Brewing - Howling Gale Ale pint. The last on the list and certainly worse for ware we got a seat at the bar and with the choice they offer here we never had to consider drinking the same beer twice.

At this stage we needed a Zaytoon (kebabery).

It was a great day out and the enthusiasm for Irish craft beer that was shown by the bar staff we met was fantastic to see. Long may it last. Looking forward to next year and planning a new route.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Galaxy of Diamonds

After a decade of saying I wouldn't get married I finally came around to the idea and the thought of supplying beer to my own wedding had nothing to do with it at all! So to celebrate the fact that we made it this far I decided, as most normal people would, to brew a celebratory beverage. Since Galaxy hops have been so good to me ( see award winning beer post), and the fact that they are in the only home brewed beer Jenny will drink I decided they would be the back drop for a pale ale containing 4 flavour and aroma hops all from the southern hemisphere. The name is a play on the diamond I got Jenny, the fact that all these hops are gems all on their own and the idea that if I told Jenny there is Galaxy hops in it she may drink it!

The hops I had in mind were:
Nelson Sauvin

The crushed grain

Filling my only free fermenter

After a little time in secondary I kegged the beer and now she is sitting pretty in the kegerator in my shed.

Beer review to follow soon if the GBBF doesn't kill me first....

Here is the recipe.

A Galaxy of Diamonds 4 hops beer
10-A American Pale Ale
Author: rossa
Date: 03/07/2011

Size: 25 L

Original Gravity: 1.051 (1.045 - 1.060)
Terminal Gravity: 1.013 (1.010 - 1.015)
Color: 11.43 (5.0 - 14.0)
Alcohol: 5.03% (4.5% - 6.2%)
Bitterness: 61.7 (30.0 - 45.0)

3 kg Maris Otter Pale Ale Malt
2 kg Munich TYPE I
.500 kg Carapils®/Carafoam®
.200 kg Crystal 55
1.0 tsp 5.2 pH Stabilizer - added during mash
1.0 tsp Protofloc - added during boil, boiled 15 min
20 g Magnum-PLMG (12.6%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min
20 g Galaxy (13.7%) - added during boil, boiled 10 min
20 g Nelson Sauvin (14.0%) - added during boil, boiled 10 min
28.0 g Rakau (12.0%) - added during boil, boiled 5 min
20 g Citra (13.8%) - added during boil, boiled 5.0 min

Yeast : Fermentis Safale US-05

5g gypsum, 2 table salt, 8 epsom salts for boil
mash @66 for 60 mins.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Losing the plot year 2

Purple Early First weeny Carrots

July has arrived and with a much more relaxed attitude to planting than last year my efforts have started to produce some early veg. Last year it was all consuming but with the harsh winter, and all the beds completed last year, I was not in as much of a rush to get going. I felt the spring was too cold to risk planting out anything early and the schoolboy errors of last year had thought me that patience is the key.

Little Gem Onion bed

Too much Garlic

I got a present of Vegetables For the Irish Garden by Klaus Laitenberger and although I have other allotment focused books the majority are British based and the climate is too different to ours to rely on these for planting times. Klaus has set my mind at ease with regards when to sow and plant out in Ireland. He also has some interesting views on weeding which I also have taken on board. All this leads to a more relaxed experience as there is a bit more harmony to the plot.

So instead of going completely bananas with too many varieties of vegetables I instead went bananas with the volume of less. I planted around 60 garlic bulbs of 3 varieties, 3lbs of onions with again 3 varieties, 2 types of peas, 3 types of beans, 3 varieties of potato, 2 varieties of beetroot, 2 varieties of leek, 3 varieties of carrot not to mention the lettuce, courgettes and broccoli.

I'll have a Pea please Bob

The second year has brought it's own problems and my laid back approach is in danger of backfiring rather dramatically. During the winter snow a drift formed at the corner of our field and deer got in and did a fair amount of damage, eating foliage and trampling winter crops. Not much can be done about that but the summer has arrived now and so too the local rabbit population. Not seen last year, the rabbits seem to be causing havoc. They milled my lettuce and broccoli seedlings so I had to go back to basics and put down the netting.

Rabbit defence

The next month will be something to look forward to with the early veg and fruit tantalisingly close to harvesting time.

Let the harvest begin.