Showing posts with label galway hooker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label galway hooker. Show all posts

Friday, July 9, 2010

Brewer of the Week

A couple of years ago, Mrs Velkyal and I went to Ireland for a long weekend as it was a public holiday back in the Czech Republic, and close enough to my birthday to be considered a treat. It was there that I met various other beer bloggers, The Beer Nut, Barry from The Bitten Bullet and Saruman of The Tale of the Ale. That weekend is lodged in my memory as one of my favourite trips ever. The highlight for me though was fulfilling a long standing ambition to go to Galway out on the west coast, in a part of Ireland that bears a striking resemblance to the part of Scotland I grew up in, it was like going home. The fact that we spent most of the day in the magnificent Sheridan's on the Docks and I delighted in my first Galway Hooker made the day even more memorable. This week, Fuggled talks to the maker of that most wonderful of beers!


Name: Aidan Murphy
Brewery: Galway Hooker

How did you get into brewing as a career?

I always had an interest in beer ever since visiting Germany as a school boy and seeing the variety available there. I studied Food Science in university and followed this up with a masters in Brewing and Distilling. Following this I got my first job in brewing in the Isle of Man at Okells Brewery.

What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?

I think having a passion for what you do is the most important. If you love good beer you will work hard to make sure its right.

Before being a professional brewer, did you homebrew? If so, how many of your homebrew recipes have you converted to full scale production?

No. Have never home brewed.

What is your favourite beer that you brew?

Our Irish Pale Ale. I love hoppy but balanced beers.

If you have worked in other breweries, which other beer did you enjoy brewing, and why?

I always enjoy brewing new beers. So any beer I’m doing for the first time is always the most exciting.

Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?

Our Irish Pale Ale, Galway Hooker. I love hoppy but balanced beers.

How important is authenticity when making a new beer, in terms of flavour, ingredients and method?

I think it is of moderate importance. The most important thing is the flavour and purity. If I brew an mild and something thinks it’s more like a porter, that is of little importance to me. The important thing is if they like it!!

If you were to do a collaborative beer, which brewery would you most like to work with and why?

I believe all the microbreweries in Ireland are great so I would be happy to work with any of them. It would just depend on who it best fits with at that particular time

Which beer, other than your own, do you wish you had invented?

Sierra Nevada. I think this is an iconic beer for most microbrewers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Fuggled Review of the Year - Pale Ales and Bitters

After years of drinking lager, it has been a pleasure to once again drink ale on a regular basis. Despite the fact that I have had some very nice ales here in the Czech Republic, most of the pale ales and bitters I have enjoyed in the last 12 months have been an integral part of my trips to the UK and Ireland.

I have enjoyed re-acquainting myself with old favourites as well as discovering stuff from breweries I had never heard of before. However, it was the newcomers that made my short list of 3 for this category (and believe me I agonized over leaving some of my favourite beers out). The three contenders for my pale ale/bitter of 2008 are:

All of the pale ales I have tried from Pivovar Varnsdorf have been excellent, whether the English Pale Ale, the American style Pale Ale or the India Pale Ale, which I first had at the Slunce ve Skle festival in Plzeň. The IPA gets the nod over the others because of the wonderful fresh citrus flavours and the fact that it is an endlessly wonderful and easy drinking ale.

I had the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale whilst in Galway last month, having heard from many people that it is the standard against which many pale ales are judged, and it is a beautifully crafted beer – one which when I am living in the States will be as permanent a fixture in my cellar as possible.

Galway Hooker was a beer that was very close to the top of my list for trying during the trip to Ireland. Again a very crisp and refreshing beer, and one which I heartily wish was available in bottles so that it could be enjoyed by more people than those very lucky souls in Galway and the few towns in Ireland where it is available on tap.

Again a very, very difficult choice, but my pale ale/bitter of the year is:

  1. Galway Hooker

Worth jumping on a plane to Ireland for.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Day in the Bay

I have mentioned many times here that I am an avid Liverpool fan and although I get along to the pub to watch most games in a season the sport I love watching most is rugby. The highlight of the sporting year for me is the Calcutta Cup match between Scotland and our arch-enemy England during the 6 Nations. This weekend saw a raft of international rugby test matches, most notably Scotland against the world champions South Africa and Ireland up against New Zealand. Originally I had wanted to try and get tickets for the Ireland game at Croke Park, but unless you are a member of an IRFU affiliated club then the chances of getting a ticket are slimmer than Kate Moss on a diet.

We spent Saturday in Galway, a town I had wanted to visit very much and so when our friends suggested that we spend the Saturday there I leapt for joy. On discovering that they also like rugby I knew it was going to be a fine day out, and so it was. While the ladies strolled around the shopping centre, the men wandered off to find a pub – a very difficult chore as I am sure you can imagine. On William Street we popped into a place called Garavan’s to wait for our women folk, and as chance would have it, we caught the last 20 minutes of Liverpool’s win over Bolton Wanderers. Here I had my first Guinness in Ireland, and although it was too cold it was certainly a step up from every Guinness I have ever had anywhere else. With the game over and the ladies out of the shops we went in search of somewhere for lunch, that somewhere was the King’s Head.

According to a plaque in the pub the King’s Head was given to the executioner of King Charles I by a grateful Parliament. This cavernous pub was very nice as was the lunch we had there, one of my three seafood and chip themed meals over the weekend, we also watched Scotland throw away a 10 point half-time advantage to lose 10-14 to the Springboks. We decided to move on to a different place to watch Ireland’s game with the All Blacks, and find a place that served Galway Hooker. Following a tip from a barman in a random pub on Shop Street we ended up in Sheridan’s On The Docks – a place which from the outside looks like a poncey winebar.


I am not sure I could have actually been further from the truth, the turf fire blazing away when we entered and the sight of a Galway Hooker tap on the bar convinced us to stay here - the nice space around the medium sized tv for watching the rugby may also have played a part, so we settled in for the evening. I went to the bar, ordered a couple of pints of Galway Hooker, the ladies had found more shopping to do, and almost fainted with joy when I saw the list of bottled beers; Bishop's Finger, Spitfire, Fuller's ESB and advertised as their "Beer of the Week" Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.


Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of Galway Hooker, partly because while having my first pint Mrs Velkyal was taking pictures of the docks, however this beer is seered into my memory, it is good stuff! The beer is golden bordering on amber and had a nice looking white head - none of your "all the way to the top" silliness in Ireland thank god, and the nose was very citrusy, very hoppy and really got me salivating, and it was worth every mouthful! Hoppy, refreshing, clean, crisp, moorish are the best words to describe this beer, and I think 4 mouthfuls later all that slighty malty lovely goodness was gone. Yum, yum, yum - better have another one just in case, still no camera mind - how do lady folk find random knitware shops in which to splash their cash?


I have described elsewhere my love affair with , so that was naturally up next, followed by it's stablemate, Spitfire - another beer that I like very much from the bottle, though I am not a fan of Spitfire Smooth (if I want something smooth I will buy a milkshake).


When trying to decide what came next I admit that I sent Evan Rail a text message asking if the
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was worth forking out €6 for (in my defence your honour, I had never had a Sierra Nevada beer and wanted professional guidance), suitably assured it was next up. What a magnificent beer it is! I am sure many far more qualified people than I have waxed lyrical about it, but I really enjoyed this one. With a refreshing hoppiness that has a rather subtle sweetness underpining it, this is a very easy beer to drink and one which when Mrs Velkyal and I are encamped the US will no doubt be a regular in the cellar. Admittedly I didn't take any detailed notes, because by this point it was half time and the referee had awarded a penalty try to the All Blacks, making the score 3-10 going into the break.



As the second half got under way I opted for the . Again an excellent beer, big and bold in the hops and malt department with a large dollop of toffee sweetness. One thing I noticed in particular was the smoothness of the beer, which makes it more of a beer for taking your time over. By the end of the second 40 minutes, Ireland had been clinically dismissed 3-22 and I had stoked up a nice warming glow from the wonderful beers on offer.


And so we headed back to Westmeath in the rain, just in time to hit the local pub for few more pints and some darts to finish off the day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Adept Nuts and Pints

Mrs Velkyal and I got back from our trip to Ireland last night, so the rest of the this week will probably be dedicated to our 4 days there. I am sure that chronology will go right out the window, but there we go. Yesterday we spent the day in Dublin, having arrived in the city from Westmeath at about 8 in the morning, the first thing on our agenda was breakfast - perhaps a slightly strange thing to mention on a blog about beer, but I was so impressed by the little cafe we found that it deserves a mention here. Just off O'Connell Street is a place called The Earl, which does various forms of Irish breakfast, as well as cakes and pastries. For just €11 I had the full works: 2 bacon rashers, 2 sausages, black pudding, white pudding, hash brown mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, toast and a pot of tea. Fantastic!

Suitably fed, Mrs Velkyal had a lighter breakfast, we wandered around the streets of the city centre, eventually heading over to Temple Bar and the city's medieval heart to find the Bull and Castle, where we were due to meet up with the Beer Nut, Adeptus and Thom for a few pints, although unfortunately Thom couldn't make it. When the pub eventually opened, and we got some respite from the rain, we got in, sat down opposite the bar and ordered our first beers. Mrs Velkyal went for the Galway Hooker, more of which later in the week, while I opted for the Castle Red, which was rather nice - I wasn't taking notes so I going from memory here.

Next up for me was the Rebel Lager, a lovely golden lager which would more than hold its own in the Czech Republic, yes it is that good - it is amazing sometimes that people still drink slop like Carling and Carlsberg when there is good lager being made by the smaller breweries. I would actually put this on a par with Budvar in the flavour and body stakes, and I am a big fan of the golden nectar from Southern Bohemia.

I have to say now that I love beer people. People that I have met as a result of Fuggled and my beer drinking/learning experiences have universally been warm, interesting, informed and generous, and yesterday was no different, the bottle of Porterhouse Celebration Stout that Beer Nut gave me now has pride of place in the Little Cellar.

Given that the Bull and Castle is the only place in Ireland that we found with such a wide selection of microbrew beers, I have to confess that I started on a mission to try as many as I could, and that I hadn't already had - so for example I left the Galway Hooker alone as I had in Galway. An interesting experiment for me was to try the difference between O'Hara's Celtic Stout on draught, if I remember rightly it was a nitro-tap, and in the bottle. First up was the tap, and it looked pretty much as you expect an Irish Stout to look, dark, tight creamy head. In drinking it was smooth with coffee notes, a bit of chocolate and a dry finish - a very nice pint, Mrs Velkyal agreed. Bottle conditioned however was a completely different story - it was simply magnificent, you can see the difference in the picture, but the explosion of smells and tastes which are missing in the draught version was frankly quite shocking - a much, much better beer, and I was so glad to find a box set of all the Carlow Brewing Company beers in the airport so I could bring a bottle home.

Next up was Clotworthy Dobbin - which came very highly recommended by both Adeptus and the Beer Nut. Wow this was a lovely drink! As you can see from the picture, it is a dark red, what you can't see however is the full on cocoa and chocolate nose and the smooth, silky feeling of the toffee tasting beer in the mouth. The Beer Nut asked me which was the best Irish beer I had drunk over the weekend - a tie between this and Galway Hooker. To round off lunch I tried the light and refreshing Blarney Blonde, from the makers of the Rebel Lager, and it was a nice way to clean off my palate in preparation for the flight back to Prague.

I can think of few better ways to spend a couple of hours than drinking with fellow beer bloggers, and I hope they enjoy the beer I brought them as much as I enjoyed the beers they recommended, the excellent pub we had them in and the good company Mrs Velkyal and I thoroughly appreciated. Cheers lads!

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...

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