• Whiplash

    Whiplash is the passion project of Alex Lawes and  Alan Wolfe. Alex was an award-winning home brewer before turning pro as head brewer with Rye River. Alan takes care of the commercial side and "kicks back with the first beer off the line every time." Whiplash beers, brewed at Rye River and occasionally at other breweries around the country, won’t have a core range as such but instead will focus on batch brewing with rotating favourites and limited releases. The aim is to promote fresh beer with a constantly evolving line up. And to pack their beers with as much flavour as you would expect from their eye catching can and bottle art.

    One of their newest releases is Body Riddle, a session IPA brewed with the level of hopping one would expect from a double IPA. This is a soft and pillowy pale ale just packed with juicy fruit notes of tangerine, grapefruit and passionfruit. You can pick it up as part of our 4 for €10 can offer this month.

    If you fancy something bigger then try out their latest double IPA Saturate. The focus for this beer  is on the Mosaic hop with big tropical aromas and flavours yet, with the deftness of touch shown across all the beers Whiplash produce, this is still extremely soft and easy drinking. At 8.5% its perhaps deceptively easy drinking. Don’t forget these are single release small batch beers, so pick them up before they are all gone.

    Expect more juicy, soft but super hoppy beers coming down the track from these guys along with new interpretations of some lesser seen styles.

  • Talking Australia with Oz Clarke

    We were delighted to welcome the actor, presenter and writer Oz Clarke to Dublin last week. Author of Oz Clarke's Australian Wine Companion and renowned wine expert, we journeyed from the Australian wine industry going back one hundred years to its current day position.

    We carefully explored and tasted the diverse and exciting wine styles of cutting edge modern Australia - from the classy Tasmanian sparkling Jansz (a personal favourite of Oz’s ) to cool climate Clare Valley Riesling and the stylish Bordeaux facing Domaine Naturaliste Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend.

    The Barossa was amply covered by a look at Bethany G6 Chardonnay and the iconic Torbreck Woodcutters Shiraz. Other reds included the stunning Longview Devil’s Elbow Cabernet Sauvignon and Steve Pannell’s Tempranillo/Touriga Nacional form the “wine laboratory” of Australia’s McLaren Vale.

    Diversity of climate, soil, geology and grape varieties along with passionate and innovative wine makers was the order of the day – view our video to hear Oz share his views.

     

     

     

     

     

  • Vinexpo, Bordeaux - The Most Glamourous Encounter of the Wine World

    If Prowein in Dusseldorf is considered the most important wine fair for commercial reasons, Vinexpo in Bordeaux is the most glamorous encounter of the wine world. First of all it takes place every two years, that contributes to build expectations. It is held in June, that recalls the summer light rather than the cold March darkness of the German counterpart. But most of all it is based in one of the most famous wine regions of the planet. On the one hand that attracts many decision makers from all over the world (especially Asia). On the other hand, you may enjoy fancy evenings in one of the iconic Chateaux.

    The business part is nonetheless intense. Our small but focused O’Briens group led by our Master of Wine Lynne Coyle started the first meeting at 9.30 on the button, and spent the whole day tasting new vintages of our customers’ favourite wines as well as new products to add to our stable. Vinexpo declares exhibitors are from more than 40 countries but France is obviously the most represented. All the big names are present with amazing stands, Pol Roger and Boisset among the classiest (we even met the legendary Jean-Charles Boisset himself with his beautiful personally designed brooch). At the end of the session we counted more than 60 wines tasted, with several interesting things to bring back to Ireland (I’m not allowed to disclosure details but watch this space)

    After a long day of tasting and networking it was time for the fancy side of Vinexpo, and you can’t do more glamorous than a dinner at Chateau Lafite Rothschild in Pauillac. Greeted by the charismatic Christophe Salin (president of the group of Domaine Baron Rothschild), we had a reception in the beautiful gardens with the delicious champagne DBR, followed by the visit to the cellars. You may rather call it “wine cathedral” giving the sensation of awe that you could feel among the guests walking by the barrels. The dinner presented the fantastic wines of the South American properties of the group (Caro and Le Dix de Los Vascos) but the highlight was the pouring of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2001, a nectar that reminded us why there is no other place on earth like Bordeaux.

    - Federico

  • The Best from Down Under

    Our Australia & New Zealand Wine Sale Starts today Wednesday, July 12th and runs until 10 pm on Wednesday, July 12th.

    We have 20% - 35% off over 130 exciting wines included in the sale line-up, far too many to detail here but I have chosen a few of my favourites below, these wines are from some of the finest vineyards in the Southern hemisphere and should illustrate just how wonderful the wines from Australia and New Zealand can be. As you might expect given the time of year and the regions covered, I have included some BBQ food matches for the wines, but needless to say, all four are equally delicious on their own.

    To start, we are looking at New Zealand, and in particular, the region & grape variety that put the country on the wine map; Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

    Made by former Cloudy Bay chief winemaker, Eveline Fraser from a single vineyard in Marlborough, Insight Sauvignon Blanc (€12.32 down from €18.95) wine has amazing levels of intense fruit and a depth of minerality not often seen outside Sancerre, this is not only different to most rival Marlborough Sauvignons but miles better! The pungency of this wine calls for a full-favoured dish such as Thai spiced seafood kebabs.

    When an Iconic Sancerre producer such as Henri Bourgeois, decides to make Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand you can expect good things. The French influence can be seen in the restraint and elegance of Petit Clos Sauvignon (€14.95 down from €19.95) but it also carries hallmark pungent Marlborough bell pepper and grassiness. Simply grilled prawns with a squeeze of lemon juice would perfectly complement the elegance of this wine.

    Grilled prawns; perfect with the Petit Clos Sauvignon

    Australia’s most famous region; the Barossa Valley is home to Torbreck Vintners, who pride themselves on their ancient gnarly vines, their Old Vines GMS (€16.95 down from €22.95) has a terrific depth of ripe dark fruit supported good oak. Finishing on sweet, ripe fruit this the perfect wine to match up with Moroccan Spiced Lamb chops hot from the Barbeque.

    Old Vine Mourvédre soaking up the South Australian sunshine in one of Torbreck's Barossa vineyards

    From the cooler Adelaide Hills region, the family-owned Longview Vineyard’s flagship Yakka Shiraz (€14.95 down from €19.95) is a model of cool restrained fruit, balance, and complexity, yet still, displays lush ripe fruit. This truly is a stunning Shiraz, but you don’t just have to take my word for it, the 2015 vintage has just picked up a Silver Medal at the International Wine Challenge 2017. To see this wine at its best, serve it alongside a chargrilled Rib-eye Steak.

    A juicy rib-eye is the Yakka Shiraz' best friend

    Among others, the Insight Sauvignon and Yakka Shiraz will be available to taste in your local O’Briens store this weekend.

  • A Trio of New Gins

    I am delighted to announce that we will have another of our Gin sales. Starting this Wednesday 12th of July and running until the 7th of August we will have over 30 gins on offer across our stores. Regular readers of this blog will know that I love discovering new gins that deliver new flavour experiences. It’s also great to be able to champion Irish producers and products, so what better time than during our sale to try out a new Irish gin. Here is a trio of great Irish gins new to our shelves over the last few months.

    First up is Listoke 1777. This gin is distilled using 21st century distillation equipment housed in a 200-year-old stable on the grounds of Listoke House in Co. Louth. It is a combination of traditional and inspiring botanicals growing both in the wild and in the Edwardian walled gardens at Listoke estate. Leaning towards spice and citrus flavours, it has great use of botanicals with each distinct and clear in the taste yet the gin seems more than the sum of the parts. Their recommended serve is simply over ice with a premium tonic and a twist of orange.

    Next up is Von Hallers, from The Shed distillery in Co. Leitrim, the makers of the also excellent Drumshanbo Gunpowder gin. The gin is named after Albrecht Von Haller, a notable character of the German Enlightenment movement and founder of the Göttingen botanical gardens in 1736. It is from these gardens that the primary botanicals are sourced; Halleria lucida, or the tree fuschia (also named after Albrecht Von Haller), alongside German ginger and Lemon Verbena. This is a delicate gin with gentle use of spice lead by lemongrass and ginger flavours. Serve simply with tonic and a little lemon rind to allow the delicate flavours to shine.

    For our final gin, we are going north of the border to Newtownards county Down. Jawbox can boast to being Ireland’s only single estate gin, created using their own base alcohol distilled from grain on grown on the 300-acre Echlinville Estate. Jawbox is a nickname for the Belfast sink, once a feature and site of hard work in every home in the city, and the producers believe it reflects the hard work and dedication that goes into producing this gin. It is a classically styled gin with bold, punchy notes of juniper, citrus and spice. Unusually the producers recommended perfect serve is simply over ice and topped up with ginger ale. Definitely one to try out.

  • Barley Wine, strong ale by any other name

    Despite the name Barley wine is not a wine but a strong ale with a high alcohol content ranging from 8% to 13% and sometimes even higher. The term Barley wine was used as a marketing term to tempt wine drinkers to turn their attention to a beer instead. The first beer to be advertised as barley wine was Bass No. 1 dating from around 1870 however the descriptor was probably in use for far longer.

    The style has its roots in eighteenth century England when brewers used a Parti-Gyle’ method of brewing, here two or three different and separate styles of beer were produced from a single mash. Basically, the first liquid taken out from the process (the first runnings) were high alcohol and big bodied with each subsequent running lighter and weaker than the last. These could then be blended together to achieve different specific gravities for different styles. Beers made primarily from the first runnings would be sold on to pubs, or to those wealthy to keep a private stock of ale, where it would be aged in barrel, sometimes for years. These high alcohol, big flavoured, barrel aged beers would demand a higher price.

    Barley wines are also intended for bottle aging and can be cellared for years where they can develop some very desirable oxidative notes. At any stage in their life alcohol will perceptible in the flavour and depending on the brewer and age of the beer it can have a sticky resinous hop character or softer fruit tones. These are big, boldly flavoured beer with a thick chewy body and can have noticeable barrel aged flavours.

    Nowadays you are more likely to see this style as a limited release. Barley wines are further broken down into two classes American style and English style.  American is generally more hop presence and lighter in colour whereas the English style can have little to no hop presence, in general are softer and more rounded and can range in colour from deep gold to black. English versions are not widely available currently but you can pick up American examples such as Sierra Nevada Bigfoot or Stone Old Guardian. Both of which are in our American sale until the 11th of July with 6 for the price of 5 across order range of American beers.

    Due to the weight and residual sweetness of Barley wines they are not generally well matched to many foods. However, this residual sweetness means they work great with deserts such as rich moist cakes or toffee or caramel deserts. Barley wine can also work well as a digestif to serve with a cheese course with English Stilton a classic combination. Enjoy it from a snifter glass, served between 10° and 13°. Enjoy.

  • The new wines for July have landed

    By all accounts, we are due for a mini heat-wave this weekend, to help make the most of this warm spell while it lasts, there are lots of Summer treats available in your local O’Briens store. 

    Regular readers of the blog will know that, weather permitting, I never miss an opportunity to get the BBQ lit, and this weekend certainly be no different, but as this weather also sees many of us enjoying more seafood and salads than usual, for today’s selection I have chosen two whites ideally suited to these dishes.

    True to form, I have also selected two richly-flavoured reds that would be perfect with the aforementioned BBQ, and all four are new additions to our ever-evolving wine range.

    For my first choice, I have gone with a classic; Cave de Vignerons Associés Chablis. (€16.95 down from €19.95)  The Cave’s winemaker, Vincent Bartement was named "Best White Winemaker of the year" at the International Wine Challenge 2016, having previously picked up this top award in 2014, it should come as no surprise that this is an incredibly well-made Chablis.  For a thoroughly delicious pairing, try this with a goat cheese salad.

    Cave des Vignerons winemaker, Vincent Bartement was clearly delighted with his double win!

    All eyes will be on Eden Park this Saturday, as the Lions attempt to make History, and the All Blacks are of course the first thing to come to mind when most people are asked to think of New Zealand, but I think it’s fair to say that Sauvignon Blanc would now run a close second.

    The Horologist (€11.95 down from €15.95) is a textbook Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, dry yet intensely aromatic; think gooseberry, lime & passionfruit, with a zesty citrus hit to the finish. Those intense aromatics call for a full-flavoured seafood dish such as prawns pil pil.

    Sizzling chilli and garlic prawns, the perfect partner for the Horologist

    Alma de Casa (€10.95 down from €12.95) is an unusual blend of mostly Monastrell with Cabernet and Syrah grown on old-vines at estate vineyards located in Yecla, Southeast Spain (pictured at the top of this Blog) where the climate is continental verging on to arid, moderated by the proximity of the Mediterranean. Showing typical Monastrell flavours of liquorice and blackberry with a supple palate, this is just the wine to so serve with lamb cutlets hot off the BBQ.

    Alma de Casa would be perfect with BBQ lamb cutlets.

     

    From South Africa’s Western Cape, the cheekily-named Goats do Roam (€11.95 down from €15.95) is a Syrah-led, six-grape blend which has deliciously juicy red berry and plum fruit, accented by subtle spice notes on the silk-smooth palate. This wine is crying out for a char-grilled Rib-Eye Steak!

    A juicy rib-eye would go down a treat with Goats do Roam

  • All Things American

    Summer is in full flow, albeit it may be turning to an ‘Irish Summer’, but with the 4th of July just around the corner we are celebrating all things American this week in O'Brien's. When doing a little research for this piece on Independence Day traditions, what struct me was that beyond fireworks and parades what it always comes back to is a celebration of family and community. People coming together to simply relax in each other’s company, and of course barbeque. That’s something I can definitely get behind and as forecast is for a ‘relatively’ dry weekend I think I’ll chance lighting up those coals and spend time with family and friends.

    Good thing then that we have a great line up of offers on all things American with offers on spirits, craft beers and wine. If you are planning to celebrate Independence Day then a cooler of beer seems almost a prerequisite. Well, we have 6 for the price of 5 across our range of American craft beers with everything from hoppy IPAs to sours to barrel aged stouts. Whether its crowd pleasers like Sierra Nevada Pale ale and Brooklyn Lager or a sipper for the late evening like Founders KBS, there is something for everyone.

    There is also plenty to choose from in our American Spirits sale up including some great whiskys from the ever-popular Jack Daniels to great bourbons like the spicy Bulleit Rye and the elegant Eagle Rare 10 year old. We have offers on great American gin as well such as the fruity Brooklyn Gin. And for those looking for premium vodka, then look no further than Titos.

    We haven’t forgotten the wine lovers either as we also have a number of great American wines on offer such as the intensely fruity and sumptuous Byron Santa Barbara Pinot Noir   or the elegant and balanced Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay from the cool coastal vineyards of California.

    Whether you are planning a 4th of July celebration or just fancy a taste of America you can pick up these offers in stores or online up to the 11th of July.

  • Father's Day Picks

    Forget about woolly slippers or eau de musk, get them something they can sit back, relax, and enjoy on Father’s Day this Sunday 18th of June. Let us take the hassle out of choosing a gift, pop in store or browse on line for a range of great gift ideas with a selection of craft beers as well as a number of great spirits on offer. I’ve picked out a few Father’s Day favourites along with some new ideas. And don’t forget we have free gift wrapping in store.

    Irish Whiskey - A fathers Day Favourite

    You simply can’t go wrong with a bottle of fine whiskey which can be sipped and enjoyed over months. We have over 20 whiskeys on offer this month including some great expression from Irish producers like the ever-popular Jameson Black Barrel, the iconic Green Spot and so much more. If whiskey isn’t to their taste we also have some great gins on offer from the classic Bombay Sapphire or craft produced Irish gins like Glendalough All Seasons and Bonac 24.

    Bonac 24

    If their taste leans more towards beer than spirits then check out our new range of larger bottles. From Belgian ales to hoppy American IPA to saison and coffee stout with beers to drink now like Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA or ones that can be aged for a few years such as Boon Black Label Oude Gueuze.

    Craft Club - New Beers Every Month

    If you would like us to choose why not give them a subscription to our Craft Club. These are available in 3 month and 6 month subscriptions with a mixed box of craft beers specially selected by our beer team delivered direct to their door each month. Featuring new releases and the freshest seasonal brews and a sprinkling some of our all-time favourites along with a booklet to guide them through each beer with tasting notes and background information on each.

    Hope you have a Happy Father’s Day.

     

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