Beer of the Month - Amber-Ella

Amber Ella BeerThis series is all about Irish craft brews and, for May, our expert columnist and food blogger KRISTIN JENSEN introduces a Beer of the Month that’s made in north Cork by a couple of quality driven entrepreneurs from down under - and it’s going down a storm


Eight Degrees Brewery beers are handcrafted in the beautiful Ballyhoura/ Galtee Mountains region of north Cork, by Scott Baigent and Cam Wallace, a Kiwi and an Aussie.

Their mission is to make modern interpretations of traditional Irish ale and lager styles, providing distinctive malt and hop characteristics for what they call ‘naturally adventurous’ beers.

The core beers include Howling Gale Ale, Sunburnt Irish Red, Knockmealdown Porter, Barefoot Bohemian Pilsner – and now Amber-Ella American Amber Ale too (more on that in a minute).

Scott and Cam have a lot of fun with their seasonals and specials, such as the limited edition Kindred Spirit beer, a coffee stout aged in 25-year-old whiskey barrels from the Teeling Whiskey Company; the Hurricane IPA vs. Cyclone IPA ‘hop off’; or the ‘Back to Black’ range that they brought out at the end of 2013.

Eight Degrees has also invested in their own grain silo and mill in order to use malt that has been grown and malted in Ireland, which they can source locally from the Cork Malting Company. The mill allows the brewery to mill the malt to their own specifications and gives them more control over the final result.

In March 2013, Eight Degrees was one of two winners (and the only food business) in the Best Emerging Business category in the SFA National Small Business Awards. In April 2014, they won a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup – the brewing equivalent of the Olympics – for Amber-Ella, their American-style amber ale.


Beer style: American amber ale
ABV: 5.8%
Colour: A coppery amber
Serve in: Mug, pint glass, tulip glass
Matches well with: Bacon and cabbage, BBQ, burgers, chicken, lamb, pork and pizza

Amber-Ella was originally brewed as a one-off for the Irish Craft Beer and Cider Festival in 2013, but in April 2014 it won a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup – the brewing equivalent of the Olympics. It’s a huge win for Eight Degrees and a big boost for the profile of Irish craft beer internationally.

In February 2014, Amber-Ella also came 1st runner-up in the Beoir 2014 Beer of the Year competition. All this means that Amber-Ella will now be joining the Eight Degrees permanent core range of beers, which is great news for this beer’s many fans.

In the glass, it pours a coppery amber, as the name suggests. The aroma is of spicy hops (Simcoe, Galaxy and Ella hops, to be specific) with tropical notes of peaches, mango and a little toffee or brown sugar underneath that.

The flavour is well balanced: the slight caramel sweetness is spiked with the citrusy bite of the hops; think grapefruit or bitter orange. This is the kind of beer that begs for another sip, and then another.

The good balance between the hops and the malts in this beer makes it a versatile beer to successfully pair with all kinds of foods, but its big flavour means it would overpower more delicate foods, such as seafood. Amber ales are quite similar to red ales, and as such this one would match well with bacon and cabbage, BBQ, burgers, chicken, lamb, pork and pizza.


Kristin JensenKristin 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


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