The October Bank Holiday week-end has traditionally been known as the Jazz Weekend in Cork (are you goin' jazzin' boy?), but over the past few years I have also visited the Franciscan well this weekend. This year the Oktoberfest was my main focus and I must say I had a most enjoyable time. Being a single man, with no commitments, I did not have to apply for passes to attend! Herewith is a summary of my partaking- hope the memory is o.k.
Since the opening of the Bierhaus, in August 2006, we have a second super location to visit for top quality beers. This year Dave, Mr. Bierhaus, also put on an Oktoberfest Special where he mainly showcased Irish beers, with some international specials as well. Even better choice!
On Friday evening I met Rebel, from this site, in the Bierhaus to get the show rolling. My first drink was a pint of Curim Wheatbeer from the Carlow Brewing Company. As well as drinking this I sampled some of Rebel’s Bock from Messrs. Maguire. The Bock was very good but the jury is still out on Curim. We then followed on to me ordering a pint of Purgatory Ale from the Well Brewery and Rebel having a Galway Hooker. I am normally a big fan of Hooker but on this sampling must say Purgatory won the day. A super drink. Whilst there we met Russell, the head brewer in the Well – just as well we were sampling Purgatory at the time!
Following this we ambled along the quays to the Franciscan well. The crowds were only starting to assemble at that stage, so after studying our menus, I opted for a Le Chouffe while Rebel went for a Westmalle Duble. We had a pint each and also did a sampling session. Le Chouffe at 8% unpasteurised golden ale tasted pretty good, but I would have a preference for Westmalle. Following this and meeting other good beer lovers, Rebel departed the scene. I followed with a pint of Shandon stout, the home stout of the Well, which was very pleasant and finished the evening with a Baltica 9 bottle, strong lager from Russia. I knew the guy at that stand, so said I would buy one of his beers. Left the well at 9.30 approx. A very happy man. Something wrong when a man is happy tog o home at 9.30 p.m.!
On Saturday, following a good lunch of Irish Stew (lining the stomach!), I arrived at the Well at about menu in hand! I was on a mission. My first port of call was a half pint of Hommel 7.5%. I have only had this from a bottle before but on draught was very good too. I followed this with a glass of Floreffe Triple, 7.5%. This was a rich full drink which I savoured. Glad I decided to stay to the half pints of these drinks so I could sample more. I then had a glass of Newton Apple beer. I had this before and did not really take to it. After the two heavier drinks it tasted very refreshing and obviously had a full apple flavour! I was impressed. So far so Good!
At this juncture I decided to pop upstairs to sample some of the German Offerings. First on my list was a bottle of Paulaner Oktoberfest, which came recommended. I was not disappointed. This was a decent Oktoberfest beer. I had hoped to follow this with a bottle of Hofbrau Oktoberfest but it was all gone! I then opted for a Hacker-Pschoff Hefeweisse and was definitely not disappointed. I have mainly drunk Schneider Hefe Weisse, but this was far superior and not as sweet. I was told by the friendly barman that it came from Berlin whilst most of the other beers came from Munich. I had hoped to follow this with a Paulaner Salvator, which is a big darker beer at 7.5%, but this was all gone as well. Instead I took a bottle of Aventinus, which is a similar type of beer. I have had Aventinus before and was not disappointed. I completed my evening’s drinking with a final bottle of Hacker Pschorr Hefe Weisse. It was for me the star German beer of the day, one I hope to sample again! I was so impressed that, as supplies were running low, I bought a bottle for the barman to enjoy at his leisure! Who needs a Jazz Festival when we have beers like these!! By 6-7 p.m. the Well was filling up well and there certainly was a good buzz around the place. Time for an old man like me to go home! Again going home happy!
On Sunday afternoon, refreshed and recharged I again headed for the Franciscan – a sucker for punishment! This time I started with a half pint of Westmalle Duble which was very drinkable. Glad I was only drinking half pints, as I might get too fond of it. Did a bit of serious beer discussion with a few fellow revellers who I had seen the day before. From this I went for a half pint of Golden Draak, the big hitter at 10% abv. Definitely rich, wholesome and settling. I followed this with a half pint of Newton Apple Beer which was a nice contrast after the two stronger beers I had sampled. It was a nice contrast and yes I now like Newton Apple Beer! For my last drink in the Well, I popped upstairs for a final bottle of Hacker Pschorr Hefe Weisse, only to be told that the well was dry. I must say I was not really surprised, so I had a bottle of Augustiner Oktoberfest, which, although a lovely looking bottle, I felt did not match the previous drinks I had this day, or the days before.
I had originally planned to leave the well, after the Westmalle and Golden Draak, but was easily waylaid by some good company. I had priorities however, so I ambled back to where my week-end began; the Bierhaus, where I met with Dave and discussed the weekend so far. What is great about the Well and the Bierhaus is that both bars complement each other and have a friendly relationship, with no rivalry. Dave was quite happy to discuss the drinks I had in the Franciscan Well as well as his bar, a practice that might not be too welcome in some other establishments!
I again started my drinking in the Bierhaus with a pint of Curim Wheat Beer and must say that after giving it a second chance, I cannot rate it as any better than an average beer. It was o.k. and no more than that, I thought. I followed this with a pint of Erdinger Oktoberfest, which was again lovely to drink. On Friday evening when I looked at the special weekend Menu I had not realised there were speciality beers on the back as well, and on Dave’s recommendation, had a bottle of Samuel Adams Oktoberfest Premium season ale. Again a lovely drink, darker than the German Oktoberfests but a lovely drink nonetheless. As I felt I was near the end of my sampling time, I finished the night with a pint of Messrs. Maguire Plain Porter, which was also a lovely beer; a fine, decent pint of Irish porter. I departed with a bottle each of Árainn Mhór Bán and Rúa to sample at home in due course and had, by all means, a most interesting drinking day.
It was great to wake up on Monday morning with my memory intact, a few menus, notes and two bottles of beer in the bag to sample.
Oktoberfest 2007 weekend in Cork – class weekend. Well done to Shane and all in the Well, and Dave in the Bierhaus, for putting a great weekend together - and I did not hear a note of jazz!