A Night with Franciscan Well Brewery

One of my highlights of the Beer Bloggers Conference weekend was the Saturday evening meal hosted by Franciscan Well Brewery. Back in January 2013 this Cork-founded brewery received backing from Molson Coors (who were one of the conference main sponsors). They decided to host a four-course meal of food matched with their beers.

We were welcomed with a half of Rebel Red, a nice red ale with good balance but to be honest was a little lacking in both maltiness or hoppiness, very much a 'regular session beer' rather than anything else (not that there's anything wrong with a session beer that doesn't attack your senses too much).

The starter was very nice, deep fried calamari dusted in wasabi & sesame flour, served with a seasonal leaf salad, sweet chilli & aioli dips. This was paired with Friar Weisse, a very nice, quite gentle weissebier with a nice amount of creaminess and banana - nothing too powerful but worked nicely with the calamari. One thing that wasn't needed was the sweet chilli dip - it was too powerful a flavour for the subtle flavours of the calamari and ended up also overpowering the delicate aspects of the weissebier.

Main course was a 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. This was paired Chieftain IPA. Chieftain IPA is a lovely IPA, good maltiness, great bitter finish but with excellent balance considering it retained it's solid bitterness all the way through. The beer was a nice match for the blue cheese burger but unfortunately the burger was too thick and too dry, a burger half the size would have worked much better, it was just too 'meaty'. My bun & salad was soggy from the burger juices and the flavours were overpoweredy by the thick chunk of blue cheese, which was an intentional aspect of the meal (it was mentioned by the brewer in his speech about the dish). The beer was lovely, the burger was not so.

Dessert was quite a spectacle though!  Multiple piles of profiteroles were carried through, each flaming with a firework/sparkler/fiery thing on top, once they were placed on a table all in a line they were quite something! The crouchenbouche were drizzled with toffee & chocolate (not sure if drizzled was the right word, I prefer "covered"). This was paired with their Shandon Stout - a nice creamy Irish stout with good coffee and chocolate notes.

The digestif was a plate of colourful homemade chocolate macaroons paired with Franciscan Well's Shandon Stout but given a twist - aged in Jameson whisky casks. The beer was stunning, a superb blend of tasty stout which has just the right amount of whisky bite (and I'm not a fan of too much whisky in my beers, I can't stand spirits in any shape or fashion).

It was an excellent evening, each course was introduced by Franciscan Well's founder & brewer Shane Long, who appeared initially to be rather shy but after a couple of courses started to share more about how the beer was brewed and it's background and came across as a very open and honest guy.

Thank you so much to Molson Coors, Franciscan Well & The Church venue as well as the organisers of the Beer Bloggers Conference. My favourite beers of the evening were the Chieftain IPA and the Jameson stout - both were excellent but balanced in a great way (I even asked for an additional glass of the IPA as I'd enjoyed the first one far too quickly...).

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