Beers from around the world

Posted on: 15th January, 2014

Category: The Wine Buff

Contributor: Tony Eklof

Tony Eklof, originally from New England, has settled in Clonakilty after a career as a librarian at University College Dublin. His knowledge and passion for wine has been inspired by frequent visits to the wine growing regions of the continent, particularly Italy and France.

“Goodbye to the port and brandy, to the vodka and the stag, to the Smithwick and the Harpic, the bottle, draught and keg.” (Christy Moore)

This month, your Wine Buff has become the Beer Buff. There are plenty of post-Christmas articles to advise you on lower-range wines at the moment, so I thought I would concentrate on the growing number of beers available on the Irish market. Many of today’s beers are brewed to complement a meal. Traditionally lagers or lighter beers go particularly well with Asian cuisine, while ales are good with heartier fare such as meat pies.

When I first arrived in Ireland all those years ago, Guinness was the major player among beers, followed by a number of ales, Smithwicks, Double Diamond, McCardles from Dundalk, and Bass. Your choice of lager was even more limited, Harp, and if memory serves, Carling Black Label. And that was pretty much it. How different it all is now. There are dozens, possibly hundreds of beers available now, brewed in all corners of the world and ranging from low-alcohol to the very strong. (A Scottish brewery claims to make the strongest beer in the world, more powerful than some whiskeys, and not the sort of beverage to choose for what the English call ‘a session ale’.

Many of the popular Belgian beers on the market are very strong and it is advisable to check the label as there is a big difference between the 4.3 alcohol level, which for some bizarre reason is standard for most Irish beers, and the seven per cent or even higher of Belgian monastic ales. My favourite Belgian is the excellent Leffe Blonde, a medium strength beer widely available. One of my favourite bars is the 17th c. Roy d’Espagne in Brussels where Leffe, Blonde or Brune, is the house beer, served up by immaculate waiters in old-fashioned aprons. The bar occupies one corner of the stunningly beautiful Grand Place in Brussels.

Whether you are shopping for wine or beer, the label is your guide and will tell you the strength, the ingredients, and importantly, the source. Germany famously has a 16th c. law that prohibits unusual ingredients in the beer. As for the source, look out for ‘brewed under licence’ on a beer label. It warns you that the Carlsberg you are purchasing is brewed in Dublin and not in Copenhagen. Would you drink Chianti made in Spain? My favourite example for you is Coors, now widely available in Ireland.

Coors was a cult beer in the USA and famously a favourite of one Richard M. Nixon! The selling point of Coors is that it is brewed in the Rocky Mountains using the fresh water of the region. The packaging here invites you to enjoy ‘the Rocky Mountain experience’ even though it is brewed in the UK by a beer monolith, Molson-Coors. Molson, new to the market, advertises itself as Canadian beer but is a watered-down version brewed over here, so how it gets away with calling itself Canadian, I don’t know. Much more appealing is the independently owned Moosehead brewed in New Brunswick. I saw pictures in the current issue of ‘Food and Wine Magazine’ of celebrities attending the launch to the Irish market of the iconic French beer, Kronenbourg. It will be interesting to see if it is the real deal, or just another ‘brewed under licence.’ One other trend I dislike is that of serving beer ice cold. It is a ploy so that you can’t actually taste the beer! Back to the aforementioned Coors, which advertises on the pack, ‘there is cold and then there is damme (sic) cold!’

Real beer lovers have an organisation now with over 150,000 members called CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. They are responsible for pretty much turning the tide in the UK against big takeovers and bad beer and for promoting locally brewed ‘craft beers’. Interestingly the movement was founded by four guys having a drink in a bar in Dunquin, on the Dingle Peninsular. If you see a CAMRA award noted on a beer it is a good sign.

Recently there has been a marked increase in the number of small micro- breweries in Ireland. These can be found in all corners of Ireland including Dingle, Kilcock, and Dungarvan. Another phenomenon has been the rise in popularity of wheat beers, mostly brewed in Germany. These are normally served in their own stylish glasses reflecting the Continental practice of each beer having its own specific glass.

My own favourite beer? Has to be Lowenbrau, one of the great Munich beers, although it worries me that it was recently taken over by the giant Anheuser-Busch Corporation, makers of America’s favourite beer. Taste in beer is just like taste in wine, a very personalised affair. Below are just a few of my favourites available in the West Cork area.

Slainte, Prost, Cheers, Na zdrowie!

Recommended Beers

Vedett, Belgian Pils, Next Door, Clonakilty
Badger’s Fursty Ferret (ale), SuperValu.
Tom Crean, Fresh Irish Lager, SuperValu
Samuel Adams, Boston Lager, SuperValu
Helvick Gold, Blonde Ale, (Widely available)
McGargle’s Pilsner, Matson’s Wine Store, Bandon
Skinner’s Cornish Knocker, Golden Ale Matson’s
Moorhouse, Pride of Pendle, pale ale, Matson’s

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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.
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20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

Did you know..... ... See MoreSee Less

Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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