Craft brews in Cork
When thinking about Ireland, one always thinks of Guinness beer. However, Ireland has 63 craft breweries. On a recent visit to Cork, I was able to experience three of the different breweries in a city that houses Heineken Ireland at the Murphy Brewery.
Franciscan Well Brewery
The Franciscan Well Brewery was named one of the places to visit by The New York Times if you have 36 hours in Cork. The brewery sits in a building along the River Lee in the North Mall area. The building housing the brewery dates to 1219, when it was Franciscan Monastery and Well, giving them their name. What makes Franciscan Well stand out is that the beer has no chemical additives, preservatives or fining, making it vegetarian friendly. It is also not pasteurized or microfiltered, so it retains natural flavors and colors.
The most popular beer at Franciscan Well Brewery is the Rebel Red amber ale. Other beers on tap include Chieftan IPA, Friar Weiss, Blarney Blonde, Shandon Stout and the Rebel Lager. Seasonal beers include the Jameson Stout and Pale Ale, which are aged in Jameson casks from the Cork area distillery, as well as the Summer Saison. The Saison won World’s Best Seasonal Pale Ale at the World Beer Awards 2015. The brewery also won silver in the International Beer Challenge with Rebel Red and gold for Individual New Product with the Jameson Stout.
The Franciscan Well Brewery has tours Monday through Friday at 6:30 p.m., which run about an hour and half. Part of the tour is spent seeing the brewing process and the remaining half is a tasting tutorial. A tour costs 10 euros. The brewery also serves beer and pizza at the pub, opening at 3 p.m. throughout the week.
The Franciscan Well Brewery, 14 N Mall, Co. Cork, Ireland, +353 21 439 3434
Rising Sons Brewery
Rising Sons is a brewery near the Cork Opera House, which was started in 2014. The brewery makes just 50 kegs a week, approximately 3,100 pints a week.
Rising Sons has six different brews on tap: Handsum IPA, Changeling PaleAle, Sunbeam Lager, Midaza Irish stout, Steeple American Amber and Grainu Ale Belgian-style wit beer. The Grainu Ale won gold at the International Beer Challenge in 2015. Along with these come seasonal specials, like the kolsch-style Cherry Bomb cherry beer and a raspberry-wheat ale named On the Razz, which was produced in the summer of 2015. In the winter, Rising Sons brewed a Nightshift porter and a Belgian golden ale, Little D’vil.
Besides beer, the Rising Sons location provides lunch and dinner. The lunch menu features appetizers, burgers and pizza, while the dinner menu is pizza only.
Rising Sons Brewery, Cornmarket St, Cork, Ireland, +353 21 241 1126
Elbow Lane is the smallest of Cork’s breweries, known as a nano brewery. Located on popular Oliver Plunkett Street, the restaurant and brewery opened in October 2014.
The brewery follows Reinheitsgebot, also known as the German Purity Law. That means no preservatives or additives go into the beer, and only four ingredients are used — water, a starch source (like malted barley), brewer’s yeast and flavoring (hops). They brew one or two times per week, which makes 500 liters per batch. To put that in perspective, 500 liters equals about 1,050 pints. It is then distributed to four restaurants that are owned by Conrad Howard, one of which is Elbow Lane.
Howard and his crew brew five different beers: Elbow Lager, Angel Stout, Arrow Weisse, Wisdom Ale, Jawbone Pale Ale. Can’t choose? That’s OK; you can always buy a tasting tray to try three to four house beers before choosing a pint. Elbow Lane is different from the other two breweries, not only because of the smaller beer production; the 24-seat restaurant/smokehouse is cozy and quaint with an upscale menu that includes crab tater tots, pigs in blankets, slow smoked ribs and more. It’s the perfect place tograb a beer and a great meal.
Elbow Lane, 4 Oliver Plunkett St, Co. Cork, Ireland, +353 21 239 0479