I was sent a sample pack of Clonakilty brews to try by the brewery. I was looking forward to it since Pauline is from West Cork so next time we head down that direction, I'll have to visit the brewery.
When I received the pack I saw one of the beers had a picture of a monkey and was called Tojo. Curious, I googled Tojo and Clonakilty and discovered that the monkey was remembered by a statue in 2013. It turns out that in 1943, an American war plane crash landed near Clonakilty and the crew spent a few days having the craic with the locals. They brought with them a little monkey called Tojo. The soldiers either left Tojo behind or he died while they were there bit either way, poor little Tojo died a few days after landing. Perhaps it was pneumonia, perhaps it was whatever they were feeding him. Tojo received a military funeral and full Irish wake. Tojo remains a local legend and when I say local, not even Pauline who grew up in nearby Skibbereen had heard this story.
Of course, had I just pulled the bottle out of the box, I could have read about it on the label. Tojo is an American pale ale, fitting since he arrived in an American war plane. It's an average strength 5.5% beer with fruity citrus hops and a hint of tropical fruits. There's a fair chunk of caramel malt here, perhaps a little too much for the low amount of bitterness. I found it quite thin but as a result, it's easy drinking. I suspect it might be better on tap as I usually prefer draught beer to bottle, especially pale ales.
By brewing this beer, Tojo the monkey will no longer just be a local Skibbereen legend. I reckon it's going nationwide, perhaps even global!
Far more to my liking is this 6% porter called Smuggler. The story behind Smuggler is a little less legendary but still pretty interesting. A family of smugglers named Deasy were also behind a brewery which lasted for 233 years until it closed in 2001. There's a bit more history here if you are interested. I really liked this one. It's big and bold with a rich mocha to espresso hit along with smooth milky chocolate. Very tasty and one I will be on the lookout for, especially since Clonakilty will be at Alltech this weekend, in fact Alltech about 10 to 15 minutes ago.