Our EU Austerity Drinking Tour leaves the charms and beer of Kilkenny (posted last Monday). We head to Cork on Ireland’s south coast: our last stop in Ireland before diving headfirst into the wine-filled bosom of France.
While munching on hummus and bread, the bus ride teaches us that Kerrygold is magic butter made from happy cows.
We arrive, drag then dump our bags, meet our host, then stream out to town. Yarn stores, a Victorain market, dodgy bits, Turkish barbers, French couture: Cork feels friendly, like a well worn couch.
Then a not-at-all phallic tower with a lean finds us.
…which just happens to hang out next to the Butter Museum:
Childish laughter stifled, we find both closed, the sun setting, and liquid supper calling.
THE FRANCISCAN WELL BREWERY:
Up the lazy River Cork we smell brewing. Then we spot a small opening on the North Mall riverfront:
Located on a Franciscan monastery from 1219, its famed, miraculous well now lends its name (and waters) to The Franciscan Well Brewery. Since 1998 they’ve made beer without chemicals, preservatives, or fining agents.
We settle into the cosy, woody, brass-filled booth and start with their:
Rapid, large fizz streams through its moderate gold color. Aromas stomp a loud, dual beat of malt and honey. Lots of tartness and low tannins make for a medium body. Flavors aren’t loud but show pear, banana, golden delicious apple, malted white bread, and an interesting edge of salt and smoke. Medium length. I blink for a second and think it tastes like decent chardonnay. That may be blarney, but the beer ain’t: very good (4 of 5).
Our visit to neighboring Blarney Castle tasted no where near as fun as the Blarney Blond.
Clouds rained the whole visit, draping the castle in appropriate gloom. The wet, winding stairs to the top nearly killed us.
However, held…awkwardly by high-school students, we finally made out with the rock:
I didn’t feel any more loquacious. But I won’t rule out venereal diseases. Afterwards, enjoying the Fall-tinted views helped us forget the stone-licking.
But back to beer.
It looks pale like lager. Aromas smell of white bread, apple, and lemon. The acid and tannin kindly kick my palate. Flavors pounce with warm white bread, tart golden delicious apple, potatoes, wheat, and honey. The length is medium. Hardly a rebel, this good (3 of 5) lager is bready, round, and pleasant: kinda like our homestay’s cat/pillow Yuki:
FRIAR WEISSE WHEAT BEER:
Like a proper Weisse, Friar looks a hazy but is darker gold amber then your usual.
Loads of banana cream pie and pineapple turnover cake aromas bounce out.
The palate is tart enough but average everywhere else. Flavors cloy with sticky notes of banana and pineapple again but a bit of lemongrass and citrus tightens up the fruit bomb. The length is medium plus.
Friar Weisse makes for a good dessert (3 of 5). But it is too fruity and not refreshing enough.
Time to switch beer gears.
I hit the bar and order the “Shandon”. It turns out two Shandon’s exist. The Shandon Stout had dried up. But a pale gold pint of Hard Apple Cider fills before me, also called Shandon. “That’s a strange-looking stout”. “Yup”. “Maybe you should work on your branding”. “Yup”.
Now we don’t expect much. Cider usually ends up sweet: desperately designed for underage binges. Ah high school…memories?
Rapid fizz pervades everywhere, even my socks. It smells plainly of bread yeast and a big green apple. Then, wonderfully, the palate turns out dry. Acid is armored and sharp, tannins noted. Rich, complex flavors completely ignore their apple origins. The anarchists include lemon pith, orange, vanilla, white chocolate, and loads of smoke, maybe oak? The length is medium plus. Shandon Cider is very good (4 of 5) and wickedly tart.
But wait. There’s more.
A cask beer-off calls us back to the Franciscan Well next Monday. Check back next week for our last day in Ireland.
- Blarney Castle: Its History, Development and Purpose ebook (eyremor.wordpress.com)
- The bountiful butter, beer and blarney of Cork City, Ireland (theglobeandmail.com)
- Three Beers You Need To Try (jacamoblog.co.uk)
- Two Towers at Blarney Castle Cork, Ireland (homeiswheretherootslead.wordpress.com)
- A Smooch Examined: Blarney Castle Exhibit Analyzed (scm320.wordpress.com)
- Oh-so-dreamy Cork (theworldinmymailbox.wordpress.com)