Monday, February 13, 2012

Ringing The Bells On Shandon Hill

The second bottled beer from Franciscan Well is Bell Ringer and is also presented in a massive 1 Litre swing-top, just like Shandon Century stout. Unlike the stout though, Bell Ringer is not quite as impressive a beer, though it would be unfair to take that to mean there is anything wrong with the beer. Don't look for this to be available either, it's not part of their core range and instead is a seasonal and possible one off in bottle format. If you do come across a bottle, buy it though.
There may not be a whole lot going on but what's there is very tasty indeed. It puts me in mind of a strong English ale, packed full of bitter orange pith, squeezed mandarin juice and other fresh fruits, a rich malty backbone full of caramel and toffee as well as a slightly spicy, lingering hop bitterness.
It's not complex, but either is it a session beer to down before moving on to the next one. It is simply a beer to be enjoyed and considering the size of the bottle, one to be shared and enjoyed over dinner or on its own.

On a related note, I spent a very enjoyable weekend in Cork and attended The Franciscan Well on Saturday for the second Winter Ales and Cask festival. It was a little different to last year in that it seemed to be smaller. I think perhaps less breweries were there but on the other hand, there was a similar number of beers. Also all the beer was consolidated to one small bar area in the beer garden. This left more room for tables which is always a good thing at a beer festival.
I decided not to take pictures or do a full festival write up this year because essentially I would be repeating myself somewhat when I report on Easterfest in April. All I will say is that I loved it and will of course endeavour to make it back again next year.

The highlight beer for me was 8 degrees howling gale on cask. They dry hopped it to hell and it tasted like hop tea, full of tannins which for some might not sound very good but I loved it.

The only beer worth avoiding was from White Gypsy, which is rare for Cuilan to brew something bad unless the flavour that came out was his intention but it tasted like blue cheese and I am not a fan of blue cheese.

Look out for the festival next year and more importantly for Easterfest over the Easter weekend.

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