Friday, 8 August 2014

A Night with Franciscan Well Brewery – EBBC14

I promise this will be my last post about the 2014 European Beer Bloggers Conference, as I’m certain that the majority of readers, who weren’t at the event, are probably sick and tired of my continual going on about it by now.

On the last evening of the conference, attendees were treated to a 4-course beer dinner hosted by Franciscan Well Brewery, of Cork. Founded in 1998, in the heart of Cork’s historic quarter, on the site of a 13th century Franciscan monastery, Franciscan Well is famous for its naturally-made range of Irish and European-style beers. Franciscan Well is now owned by Molson Coors, who were a major supporter of the 2014 European Beer Bloggers Conference.

I also have to declare a personnel interest in the company, as I have a pension with Molson Coors. This came about following the latter’s acquisition of the brewing division of Bass, in the wake of the fall-out from the Beer Orders 1989. I began my laboratory/quality control career working for Bass, at their wines & spirits subsidiary, Hedges & Butler, in London’s East End, back in the late 1970’s, and now I have a small pension maturing somewhere in Molson Coor’s coffers, waiting for me when I retire.

This special beer dinner took place at the EBBC conference venue, The Church, and the kitchen staff there certainly pulled out all the stops to prepare some truly exquisite food. Franciscan Well founder and brewer, Shane Long, hosted the evening, sharing his thoughts on the advancement of the Irish Craft Beer market. Unfortunately I can’t remember much of Shane’s talk, as not only had I stopped taking notes at this stage, but I’d been drinking pretty solidly since lunchtime, and things were slowly sinking into an alcoholic haze! However, Shane is on record as saying:

“It’s Fantastic that the conference is being held in Ireland, a testament to how far we have come in the craft beer world. We look forward to hosting the writers.”

The evening kicked off with a welcoming glass of Rebel Red – Irish Red Ale. I have to confess I’ve never been a fan of Red Ales, but the style is native to Ireland and Franciscan Well’s version was pretty good, and helped to get the digestive juices flowing as we moved onto the starter. 

This consisted of Deep-fried calamari dusted in wasabi and sesame flour, served with a seasonal leaf salad, sweet chilli and aioli dips. The starter was paired with Friar Weisse; Franciscan Well’s Bavarian-style Weiss beer. The food and the drink certainly complemented each other, so full marks there!

Main Course
Moving on to the main course of dry-aged Hereford beef burger topped with Cashel blue cheese, beef tomato, gherkin, baby gem lettuce on a lightly toasted brioche bap with hand-cut chips, we had some rather good Franciscan Well Chieftain IPA to wash the complement the food and help wash it down.

Dessert, consisting of crouchenbouche-profiterole tower drizzled with toffee and chocolate, followed. A difficult mix of sweet, chocolaty tastes to find a suitable beer to go with this one, but Franciscan Well’s choice of their Shandon Stout fitted the bill surprisingly well.

An indulgent dessert
After all this rich and some might say pretentious-sounding food, was there room for anything else? Well, as a digestif the company came up with a version of the above stout, which had been aged in Jameson Irish Whiskey casks. A few homemade macaroons were placed in front of us, just in case we weren’t already bursting at the seams, but all in all it was an excellent, if rather indulgent, meal. Our thanks to Shane Long and his colleagues at Franciscan Well, plus the kitchen staff at The Church who certainly pulled out all the stops to create this culinary feast for us, and to make it such an enjoyable evening.


Tandleman said...

Thanks for all these posts Paul. I feel I was there without the liver damage and the bloat!

Paul Bailey said...

I've just about recovered, Peter! Now there's Munich to be faced.