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Ireland’s Leading Independent Food & Hospitality Guide
KRISTIN JENSEN - co-author of ‘Slainte! The complete Guide To Irish Craft Beers and Ciders’ - introduces us to Dungarvan Brewing Company Gallows Hill Barley Wine
ABOUT THE BREWER
Dungarvan Brewing Company was founded by brothers-in-law Cormac O’Dwyer and Tom Dalton along with their wives, Jen and Claire, with a view to offering the Irish beer drinker a greater choice in craft beers, with an emphasis on quality, craft and tradition.
Launched in April 2010, the brewery is located in the historic market town of Dungarvan, which has a rich history of brewing as well as a strong food culture, both in food production and a thriving restaurant scene.
All the beers are brewed in small batches using only four ingredients – barley, hops, yeast and water - and are vegan friendly.
The beer is kept in its purest form by bottle-conditioning it, which means that a natural carbonation process occurs within the bottle that eliminates the need for the addition of further gas to the beers. It isn’t filtered or pasteurised, so there is minimum interference between the raw ingredients (including the limestone-rich water of west Waterford) and the finished product.
The draught offering is cask ale, dispensed by traditional hand pumps, which the brewery supplies to select pubs throughout Ireland as well as at a range of festivals and events during the year.
The core range is made up of three beers: Black Rock Irish Stout, a dry stout; Copper Coast Irish Red Ale, a fruity red ale; and Helvick Gold Irish Blonde Ale, a generously hopped blonde ale. Seasonal beers include Comeragh Challenger Bitter, a seaweed saison and their popular Coffee and Oatmeal Stout for the winter time. They also make limited edition beers for festivals. Check their website for suggested beer and food pairings and recipes.
Dungarvan Brewing Company beers can be found throughout Ireland; check their website for stockists.
The brewery is happy to accommodate tours as long as you contact them beforehand to arrange your visit.
ABOUT THE BEER
Like many of Dungarvan Brewing Co.’s beers, this one, their first autumn seasonal, is named after a local landmark, Gallows Hill. No one is quite about the origins Gallows Hill. Some of the theories are that it was a Norman motte and bailey, a Bronze Age barrow or even the fort (dún) that Dungarvan was named after. We may soon find out, though, because the Waterford County Museum commissioned a geophysical survey of the hill as part of the celebrations of the 800th anniversary of Dungarvan’s town charter in July of this year.
Barley wine is a strong ale that was originally brewed in England. American brewers are also making barley wine now, though they tend to be hoppier and hence more bitter than British barley wines, which are on the sweeter side.
But enough of the history – how does it taste? At 8.5% ABV, this Irish version cleaves more closely to the traditional, sweeter British style. The first sip is all dark, dried fruits and caramel maltiness, but then the hop bitterness immediately take over for a lasting dry finish that is almost tannic, reminiscent of a very strong black tea. As the beer warms up, though, it mellows out into a well-balanced drink that is very pleasant to sip and take your time over.
Barley wines are strong beers and lend themselves well to slow sipping after a meal, ideally served in a snifter glass at cellar temperature (11–13°C) rather than fridge cold. They are also fabulous when paired with Christmas cake or your Christmas cheese board, especially an English Stilton or a mature Cheddar - such as the magnificent Mount Leinster Clothbound made by Tom Burgess of Coolattin Cheddar at Tullow, Co Carlow, and declared Supreme Champion at last year’s Irish Cheese Awards.
This autumn 2016 seasonal beer is a limited edition with very limited availability, so snap it up if you see it.
Kristin Jensen is a freelance editor specialising in cookery and food books and has worked with many of Ireland's top food writers and chefs. She writes the Edible Ireland blog and is a co-founder of the Irish Food Bloggers Association and, together with Caroline Hennessy, is joint author of Slainte! The complete Guide To Irish Craft Beers and Ciders . Kristin is Secretary of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild.