Beer with Whiskey - the ultimate drinks convoy

Ireland being a whiskey nation, naturally the two staples in Irish beer styles, stout and red ale make an amazing convoy with a glass of Irish whiskey. There is a history of putting these two together, the Americans have done it for years in the form of the “Boiler maker” - when I saw this first in the Thor film, I marvelled at the whiskey being dunked into the beer tankard (pun very intended). Now it’s started to appear in a few pubs here and I noticed that Tullamore Dew have created a series of short videos in an ad campaign that pairs whiskey’s with beers, even ipa.

I’d have a shot of whiskey in beer over a jager-bomb any day, but at a time when both beer and whiskey are going through a renaissance in our country, what's happening is even better! Instead of being brutally mixed together, they are accompanying each other as though it was destined. Of course this is a powerful pair, they share the same core ingredients, water and barley. I have heard some folks refer to this connection as having “the same DNA”.

Back in October 2016 I received a generous invitation by Shane of Dotbrew to a tasting night at Teeling that would pair and compare beers, whiskeys and cheeses. This was a mega treat and it seemed like the cheeses were given great thought to go with the delicious drinks. Then you’ve got not only beers being aged in whiskey barrels - which is nothing new but still great - now there is whiskey being aged in ex-beer barrels. I’m speaking of course, about Jameson caskmates, a whiskey that has been finished in barrels in which beer has aged, this is a collab with Franciscan Well brewery. Whiskey in ex-beer barrels is already a thing in the US, a huge whiskey market, so I imagine other Irish distilleries will try their own cask share with a brewery too. I have heard a few rumours...

Dotbrew session rye ale with St. Tola goat cheese was the overture to that night :-)

Dotbrew session rye ale with St. Tola goat cheese was the overture to that night :-)


Beer with whiskey seems meant to be and it can be a beautiful combination when you get it right or a total misfire if you get it wrong. I personally wouldn’t have a pint of ipa with a glass of Green Spot as the bitterness of the ipa might just tear the lovely, rich and oily flavours of this single pot still whiskey from my happy palate. However ipa beers actually go great with certain bourbon whiskey’s. But the likes of Green Spot, John’s Lane, Red Breast and other heavy Irish whiskey’s go best with a dry stout or a strong porter. Irish blended whiskey’s are fantastic with a red ale such as Porterhouse red. But these are just some of my thoughts and a basic guideline for anybody who wants to try marry a beer with a whiskey. Explore for yourself, see what works for you and give me a comment on your favourite pairing. Subscribe for my news letter which will be full of this kind of talk. Sláinte

The cheeses and a home made whiskey jelly

The cheeses and a home made whiskey jelly

Maduro Cigars with Beer

When it comes to enjoying a cigar, the best accompaniment for me (after good weather) is a good drink. While I do appreciate the more conventional matches such as a whiskey, port or rum etc. I have been experimenting with a variety beers and cigars. These are my findings so far on Maduro cigars when paired with different beers, from light to dark styles.

Although dark and rich flavoured beers seem the most obvious choice, I recently gave Lagunitas New Dogtown pale ale a trial. While such a zesty beer is likely to go against the flavours of the tobacco, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Often when pairing food with drink, flavours can contrast yet they don't conflict. I wanted to see if the same could be true for my favourite cigar, Inka bombaso maduro, special blend. With a 60 gauge maduro like this, the beer's carbonation and citrus, cleansing the palate was helpful to hit the reset button on my taste buds between each third of the stick. Lagunitas have a certain waxy characteristic that mingles with the oiliness of the 100% Peruvian tobacco in an intriguing combination.

Going darker with the beer, Belgian style is the ultimate way to go - or in this case, an Irish craft expression of Belgian style dubbel. My last bottle of the now discontinued, Radikale Rubenesque Belgian Dubbel was enjoyed with an Alec Bradley, Black Market robusto. Incredibly complex beer and a full flavour cigar, perfect! I would also suggest this cigar to be perfect with a Quadrupel such as La Trappe Quad or Rochefort 10.

Another big gauge cigar is the Nub maduro which went so well with the selected beer, it was as though they were meant for each other. The brew I'm talking about is Galway Bay Brewery's whiskey barrel aged imperial stout, called 200 Fathoms - 2016 edition. Boozy, robust and intense flavours of roast vanilla, oak, dark chocolate and forest fruits in this after aging for just under a year. Those flavours did the tango with the cigar's heavy spice, mocha and dark chocolate notes from Nicaraguan filler tobacco and Brazilian wrapper leaf.

The latest attempt was a bourbon barrel aged Vietnamese coffee stout by Dotbrew, brewed specially for Joel of Blackrock Cellar. This beer tasted completely different to how I expected with a fruit punch flavour and more of a back seat for the coffee flavours which were there but quite understated. Very little carbonation, smooth and nutty, long finish. It complemented the Inka maduro just as deliciously as the Lagunitas pale ale contrasted it.

What do like to drink with your cigar? Comment below or tweet me @jamiesbeertalk also have a look at my instagram @jamiesbeertalk to see other cigar/beer combos that I've tried.

Beautifully constructed cigar and well priced too. I love this one!

Beautifully constructed cigar and well priced too. I love this one!

Beer with food #4

Spanish food is an all time favourite of mine. For this post, my dad prepared and beer-paired a delicious paella for the family. There was actually a cool booklet in Dunnes Stores with suggestions of beer with food pairings to try with their craft range. Dad likes Spanish dishes too so he chose the combination of paella with the recommended Estrella Damm Inedit.

This is a witbier style beer from Barcelona, 4.8% abv in a nice big 75cl bottle.  Inedit is a special brew by Estrella Damm in collaboration with Chef Ferran Adrià and sommeliers from the restaurant he manages, El Bulli. The recipe for this dish is also Ferran Adrià's.

The vivacious nose of Inedit is citrus, yeast and floral while the appearance is a hazy, light-gold colour with good retention on the pale white head. The first sip is tantalizing, the second is when the smooth mouth feel rests on the palate. There are flavours of orange & lemon shandy, licorice, wheat and even a coconut note hiding in there.

Citrus of the beer with the oily chorizo  in the dish go great together, not to mention the coriander with the floral aroma of Inedit. Fried eggs get washed down well by the carbonation, rice is complemented by the creaminess of the beer and that hint of coconut too. Dad has a passion for cooking good food and also loves well crafted beer, he is a legendary partner in crime for beer tasting and therefore an ideal cameo appearance on Jamiesbeertalk.

Meet Mick Power - aka, Chef Dad

Meet Mick Power - aka, Chef Dad

What did we have for dessert? - I hear you ask - well the stronger stuff emerged in the form of Sierra Nevada's special edition of Narwhal, from the 'Trip in the woods' barrel aged series. Hot damn! That's a good beer and especially for after a meal paired with a beer, when you want to kick it up a notch. This beauty tastes like a rum soaked cherry bomb in your mouth with an almost soy flavour to the palate initially then incredibly complex wood and vanilla flavours from the maturing in bourbon barrels. Roasted almonds, black currant jam, dark chocolate, alcohol and chilli heat followed by a lingering molasses sweetness yet marmite, salty undertone. This double imperial stout is a treat that packs a wallop at 9.8% abv so best for sharing.

beery goodness

beery goodness

Dotbrew Champagne beer

The first thing that I thought when I drank Dotbrew’s chardonnay barrel aged beer, was that I really should have bought the entire stock from the off licence! This is the best, most impressive beer that I have drank in the last year. When I bumped into Shane Kelly (the brains behind the nano brewery) in town recently, he told me that he enjoyed this beer so much that he had gone through his stash and had to buy his own stock back from stores if he wanted a sup.

I would describe the appearance as sandblasted gold in colour with a head that looks like fresh meringue. I chose to pour this into a champagne flute and have a photo session with this brew, as though she was a supermodel of the beer world. Tiny bits of sediment or wood or maybe both in the bottom which is no problem, I drank that part.

You can see very fine bubbles in the overflow in this picture

You can see very fine bubbles in the overflow in this picture

The smell transports you to the edge of a field, bordered by forestation on a cool spring morning at the same time as sounding like lemonade bubbles evaporating on a sunny porch table. It’s the kind of beer that has to be described by setting a scene with places and imagination. The first taste is quenching and reviving, very complex yet pronounced, citrus then wood, lemon cheesecake then bubbles stir the flavours and change the palate again. That texture from Champagne and Belgian yeast strains is fantastic there’s also hints of pepper, creaminess, delicate, light sweetness, nuts, effervescent and dry, long finish.

This, champagne beer or “Bière de champagne” if you don’t mind is beautiful inside out. Appropriately adorned with only a yellow paint stroke on the bottle, no label. I noticed more chardonnay barrels in an instagram post by Dotbrew so who knows, we might see it again, or they might experiment and blow our minds in an entirely, new, genius way. Have you tried this beer? I would love to hear your thoughts, so comment below or tweet @jamiesbeertalk - Sláinte!

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check them out @dot_brew

check them out @dot_brew

Alltech brews & food fair 2017

Fair play to Alltech for a great event! I thoroughly enjoyed myself in the live music, spacious layout and of course the brilliant beers. My favourites were Lough Gill, Wild Bat, Hope, Kinnegar, Whitehag, Wicklow brewery, Rascals and there were more. Now that the Irish beer community know each other a bit better, it was cool to bump into a few heads and also to have met some new characters.

In this picture I ran into Phil Tavey from Beer Academy who anticipated my being there and brought my course certificate. Legend! (Photo taken on Phil's phone)

In this picture I ran into Phil Tavey from Beer Academy who anticipated my being there and brought my course certificate. Legend! (Photo taken on Phil's phone)

Lough Gill Brewery was new to me which is always exciting. The two guys, Tony from Montana and James from Sligo were so sound to chat to about their brewery and there was only top class beer at their stand. I tasted their Andersons Irish ale, which was reminiscent of a creamy red but with a little more candy and hops, not intrusive hops, the good kind. Then sampled the MacNutty brown ale, a bit richer than the Andersons, high-end-medium body and scrumptious finish. Before moving on, I got a glass of the rebel imperial oatmeal coffee cream stout, a whopper 11%abv. Very tasty with a lot happening, flavours just coating the whole mouth such as coffee biscuits, rumcake, brandy hot chocolate and a liquorice undertone.

 

I really loved seeing Wild Bat Beer because I think that Probus Wines - the place I bought it from when I first heard of it - is such a unique and amazing spot, so I just hold the affiliated beers in esteem automatically. Then there’s the fact that the beers are incredibly good, the California common was the only one I had already tried. I gave the stout a go, luscious. Then the pale ale and then my first New England style ipa! The NEipa was a tester batch and very interesting; aromas and matching flavours of pineapple and other tropical fruits but also creamy smooth with a sweet/sour touch to it.

Paul and Enda from Wild Bat

Paul and Enda from Wild Bat

Overall, a huge well done to the organizers because the beer, the food (amazing donuts), the welcome and general atmosphere was all buzzing. I only wish I could have managed all three days, maybe next time. Thanks for reading folks, see you at the next beer event hopefully. Check out some photos that I took below and leave a comment about what you look for most in a beer event. Share with your beer nerd friends and subscribe for notifications of future posts by Jamiesbeertalk.

Photo taken by event photographer: Me & Bella from Mr Donut 

Photo taken by event photographer: Me & Bella from Mr Donut 

Whiskey being showcased at the event too. I tried the port cask by West Cork.

Whiskey being showcased at the event too. I tried the port cask by West Cork.

Beer with Whiskey - the ultimate drinks convoy

Ireland being a whiskey nation, naturally the two staples in Irish beer styles, stout and red ale make an amazing convoy with a glass of Irish whiskey. There is a history of putting these two together, the Americans have done it for years in the form of the “Boiler maker” - when I saw this first in the Thor film, I marvelled at the whiskey being dunked into the beer tankard (pun very intended). Now it’s started to appear in a few pubs here and I noticed that Tullamore Dew have created a series of short videos in an ad campaign that pairs whiskey’s with beers, even ipa.

I’d have a shot of whiskey in beer over a jager-bomb any day, but at a time when both beer and whiskey are going through a renaissance in our country, what's happening is even better! Instead of being brutally mixed together, they are accompanying each other as though it was destined. Of course this is a powerful pair, they share the same core ingredients, water and barley. I have heard some folks refer to this connection as having “the same DNA”.

Back in October 2016 I received a generous invitation by Shane of Dotbrew to a tasting night at Teeling that would pair and compare beers, whiskeys and cheeses. This was a mega treat and it seemed like the cheeses were given great thought to go with the delicious drinks. Then you’ve got not only beers being aged in whiskey barrels - which is nothing new but still great - now there is whiskey being aged in ex-beer barrels. I’m speaking of course, about Jameson caskmates, a whiskey that has been finished in barrels in which beer has aged, this is a collab with Franciscan Well brewery. Whiskey in ex-beer barrels is already a thing in the US, a huge whiskey market, so I imagine other Irish distilleries will try their own cask share with a brewery too. I have heard a few rumours...

Dotbrew session rye ale with St. Tola goat cheese was the overture to that night :-)

Dotbrew session rye ale with St. Tola goat cheese was the overture to that night :-)


Beer with whiskey seems meant to be and it can be a beautiful combination when you get it right or a total misfire if you get it wrong. I personally wouldn’t have a pint of ipa with a glass of Green Spot as the bitterness of the ipa might just tear the lovely, rich and oily flavours of this single pot still whiskey from my happy palate. However ipa beers actually go great with certain bourbon whiskey’s. But the likes of Green Spot, John’s Lane, Red Breast and other heavy Irish whiskey’s go best with a dry stout or a strong porter. Irish blended whiskey’s are fantastic with a red ale such as Porterhouse red. But these are just some of my thoughts and a basic guideline for anybody who wants to try marry a beer with a whiskey. Explore for yourself, see what works for you and give me a comment on your favourite pairing. Subscribe for my news letter which will be full of this kind of talk. Sláinte

The cheeses and a home made whiskey jelly

The cheeses and a home made whiskey jelly

Sweetwater

Recently in the local pub, Frank Duff’s, I was delighted to find that they now have Sweetwater on draught and in bottles - score! Sweetwater are a fantastic American brewery based in Atlanta who landed in Ireland last September and when it comes to beer, they say they “don’t float the mainstream”. I also picked up a few bottles in Tesco of all places, the extra pale ale and the ipa about €3 per bottle.

The 420 extra pale ale is fairly light in both colour and body with a golden appearance and a grainy and grassy flavour. Citrus and hay nose (that’s “hay” as in - bales in a field - not “hey”). Refreshing and dry, I expect it would go great alongside fish and chips or a slice of lemon cheesecake if you were hoping to pair it with food.

sweetwateripa.JPG

The ipa. I love the tagline on this beer, “the beer you’ve been training for” hilarious! They have quirky lines like that on most of their range, such as the brown ale; “as smooth as a Bill Clinton apology”. That had me in stitches the first time I saw it! I’ve digressed, the ipa is delicious, it is vivacious, hoppy, evergreen flavours that are wrapped in candy. Melon and other fruit flavours as well as a slight caramel sweetness behind all of the spritely carbonation. It is a fun beer that isn’t so off balance that you couldn’t enjoy a few because there’s enough maltiness up against the hops.


Another one worth trying is the blueberry ale which I posted on my instagram today. I like these beers and they are a welcome sight in the local bars and offies, what do you think about them? Thanks for reading, be sure to comment below or hit me up on twitter @jamiesbeertalk

And here's my Cáilín go háilín taking a sip and also rather enjoying the brew

This is just a scenic photo I took while moseying about the Dublin and Wicklow mountains before drinking the beer

I swear I'm not trying to be artsy but this is just one more nice shot from the day up in the mountains

Budget Beers

Perhaps the caption [Budget beer] sounds very recessionesque but that’s not the intention here. Most people are a little more careful with their spending than usual in November coming up to Christmas, so lets talk about good beer that you don’t have to break the bank for

To start, Lidl and Aldi have more decent beers now. I found a 4 pack of Belgian beer for only €6.49 in Lidl! It’s called Corsendonk dubbel, it is 7.5%abv, dark, rich, warming, good carbonation and well rounded flavour. A nutty, bitter note in there at the end - at approx €4.86 per litre you can’t go to far wrong.

lidlbelgian.jpg

 

Aldi exclusively sell O’Shea’s Irish stout at €1.89 for a 500ml bottle, it’s made by Carlow brewing company, I’ve always liked this one. Also there’s Spaten for around the same price, a well known, delicious German helles. A recent and tasty addition is the Belgian wheat beer which is particularly appealing because this style doesn’t often come in 500ml bottles let alone to be purchased near the €2 mark.

 

 

Last suggestion is the porterhouse beers, which are always €2.15 per long-neck in Molloy’s (or €2.10 in O'Brien's but they don’t have the full range). So that includes the famous Plain porter, Oyster stout, Red ale, Brainblasta (a few cents extra because of alcohol content) and more.

Who says that it’s not craft if it’s not costly? Now I don’t mind blowing 85 quid on a single bottle of tactical nuclear penguin but at the end of the day good beer is defined by whether or not you like it.

Inka rojo cristales

Inka rojo cristales

Inka cigars are brilliant quality with full flavour, the rojo cristales is no exception. Unlike my usual choice, the bombaso maduro, it is long instead of short, 42 gauge instead of 60 and natural/colorado shade rather than a dark maduro. The slender build makes for a very easy draw and the sweet aroma insired me to pair it with a bottle of Dotbrew whiskey barrel aged red ale.