Cheers for a cracking new stout

Edit: As of October 2012, I am no longer drinks columnist with the Irish Examiner Weekend. See the home page of this blog for more details. I’m leaving much of the info I posted here in case it might be helpful. Thank you. 

My beer of the week over in the Irish Examiner today (Saturday June 23 — print edition only) is Elbow Lane Angel Stout. It joins a growing band of fine Irish stouts and porters from the likes of Porterhouse, Beoir Chorca Dhuibhne and Carlow Brewing Company.

There’s another novelty about Angel: it’s a cleanskin. That is, the label doesn’t name the brewery in which it was made. It does say it was brewed in Cork though, so that narrows it down a bit and I can only think of one likely candidate.  While many cleanskins are own-label (where an existing product is rebranded in new packaging) Angel Stout seems to have been commissioned and made specifically for the people behind Elbow Lane.

It’s being marketed by two restaurants in Cork — the Castle Café at Blackrock Castle and Market Lane on Oliver Plunkett Street. At first I thought it was only going to be available in those places, but it turns out it’s also stocked by Bradley’s on North Main Street, which is apt as that shop is one of Cork’s two astonishingly comprehensive beer collections, the other being The Abbot’s Ale House on Devonshire Street North across the river from the Opera House. I’m not sure if the latter will also stock Angel. If they and further stockists are added, I’ll add that info here.

We’re more used to the cleanskin concept from the wine world, which is where the word comes from. For instance, once upon a time M&S didn’t disclose where their wines were made. Nowadays they do — to their advantage, I’d imagine, as there are some great names in tiny writing on back labels on their shelves. If I recall correctly, Aldi’s cracking O’Sheas Stout is also a clearskin – made by the aforementioned Carlow Brewing (aka O’Haras), a fact which I think isn’t disclosed on the label. Must check next time.

♦ Also today in The Irish Examiner Weekend, I’m picking out my highlights from a tasting through 50 or thereabouts wines at O’Briens. It was a pretty impressive tasting, and I’ll have to come back at a later date to a few more of those wines, as well as two interesting themes I just didn’t have room for in the column — namely ‘natural’ wines, and a whole lotta rosés. The latter requires a summer so that  might be on hold for quite a while.

Edit: As of October 2012, I am no longer drinks columnist with the Irish Examiner Weekend. See the home page of this blog for more details. I’m leaving much of the info I posted here in case it might be helpful. Thank you. 


Wine antics in Dublin and Cork

TASTE of Dublin isn’t the only show in town next week, and here are two other events wine lovers might enjoy. They happen to centre on the twin pillars of ‘classic’ France, Bordeaux and Bourgogne.

♦ Tindal Wine Merchants is hosting a tasting of its Bordeaux portfolio on Wednesday June 8 from 6pm to 8pm in The Conrad, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2. The line-up features great names such as Chateau Ormes de Pez; Chateau Tour Leognan, Frank Phelan and more. At €10 it’s a great value evening. For more information or to book your ticket contact Harriet Tindal on 01-8665680, at, or at

Anne-Claude Leflaive

♦ On Saturday June 11,  Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry Co Cork, hosts two events presented by Anne-Claude Leflaive, winemaker at Domaine Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet, Bourgogne.  Regulars to this blog and my column in the Irish Examiner will be aware of what good value such dinners can be. In general, what happes is that the winemaker, restaurant and distributor all effectively subsidise the event meaning you get top class food and drink at a significant discount – sometimes it’s even a fraction of the retail cost.

Coincidentally, the Puligny-Montrachet appellation came up in a recent column – I mentioned it in passing in regard to the far-from-simple relationship between price and quality:  Faced with some of the wines of that appellation I have occasionally had to revise upward what I regarded as the limits respectable affordability. What I’m saying is that of all the wine areas  synonymous with luxury, the Montrachet appellations are probably nearest to being worth it.  One of the people presiding over this precious patch of earth is Anne-Claude Leflaive. Among other accolades, Decanter awarded her first place in their list of the Top 10 White Winemakers of the World. Discover more about Domaine Leflaive by taking a a look at their website here.

Anne-Claude will be presenting a tutored wine tasting in the afternoon and a special dinner that evening accompanied by wines from Domaine Leflaive’s cellar.

The tasting session alone costs €35 while the dinner is €138 (you can of course attend both for €173). There’s also a package comprising both events along with B&B accommodation, which costs €265 pps. None of these is cheap. But if you’ve got the spons, I think the tasting or dinner represent very good value.

To book, contact Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, Co Cork by phone on 021 4652531 or online via ♦

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