The Franciscan Well, Cork, Ireland

Among various places visited while in Ireland, a great place stumbled upon (no pun intended) was Franciscan Well Brewery.

IMG_3099It’s a newer brewery (founded in late ’90s), but has great history to it.

‘The Franciscan Well Brewery was founded in 1998 on the North Mall in Cork City and is built on the site of an old Franciscan Monastery and Well, dating back to the year 1219. Legend has it that the water from the well has miraculous and curative properties and people would come from afar to drink from it.’

We opted to take the entire brewery tour to find out about what all they do based on the additional info they provided on their site.

‘The Brewery has combined modern technology with old age tradition in forming classic beer styles including lager, ale, stout and wheat beer. All the beers brewed at the Franciscan Well are natural, and do not contain any chemical additives or preservatives and are made with the best ingredients.’

It was great.  To put the size of the brewery in perspective, the only thing I can think of is that it’s maybe a quarter size of the end zone of a football field?  Maybe 1/3?  It’s tiny.  They have so little space, have to stay on top of things to a tee and provided more much more insane amounts of info, from law restrictions, what got them started, real estate, bottling, competition, brewing specs to tastings from beginning to…ahhh…end.



The tour provided 4 or so tastings where you also went through the components of yeast, barley, etc.  All their brews were great.  But, one I do remember was a hefe with way too much banana.  I definitely did not need to have more of that.

IMG_3116When you visit the brewery, they have an outdoor brick pizza oven where you can order a great meal, as well, to help soak up all the fun.  Worth checking out to get in even more Irish culture.

Screw Top Art

I can get crafty on the side and the past few years have been having fun.  For awhile I was making cork wreaths.  I sent notes out to all those I know to save those precious things some throw away when they open their lovely adult beverage and also went around to restaurants to collect them.  I made one wreath for myself and then was given 3 enormous bags of corks from a restaurant and gifted and gifted wreaths after hours of labor.  Also make cork trivets after buying the frames.

But, there is more fun…screw top wreaths.  First, though screw tops are becoming more common, when you try to collect/gather them, they don’t come nearly as quickly as corks.  It took me a long to gather enough to make a wreath.  Then, when wreath making began, *($%^.   There is not nearly the surface area of a cork!  This was not as much fun as I thought.  After a couple hours, I decided putting cotton balls in the screwtops would give me more surface area.  After many months of (more) off and on labor hours, the screw top wreath is complete!  I did this tonight while enjoying some great South African wine after just booking a trip to South Africa…there will be many food and wine reports to come in a few months.  The wine I enjoyed was one of my favorites, the Wolftrap Red Blend of Syrah, Mourvedre and Viognier.




And, the original wreath I worked on a couple years ago…good old fashioned corks.


New Corks in MD

Sunday morning, local farmers market.  You have the fun of trying and buying all the delicious produce…especially this time of year with apples and pears!!!  At the one in the Bethesda, every so often there will be a local vintner making an appearance.  I happened to stumble (yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking) upon one last time I was there….it was 10am…I wish they had bubbly, then maybe stumble could have been what crossed your mind!

Anyway, the new winery is Big Cork Vineyards and they are in Frederick, MD.


They were offering four varietals, all white.  Not bad for MD.  The reds will be available this fall.  And, what was great to hear is that the winery will be open for tastings in Spring 2014.  Look forward to checking it out.


Size Can Matter

The world of wine is constantly in a state of flux.  First corks started going from true cork to synthetic.  Then we started getting these screw top things.  I will say at first I was not impressed but I am starting to like them, but I will always love traditional corks.  And now, the size of the container of wine you buy is changing!  The 750ml bottle should always be around, there can be the standby 1.5L and maybe the splits or tiny ones that you use for cooking or slipping into your pocket.

But now you go into the store and talk about eye candy!  I was in World Market last weekend and just had to take pictures.  Talk about kid in a candy store.  So there were 3 other size options (I’d seen some of them a couple times but they overtook the wine section).

#1 350ml bottle, screw top, metal bottle (that might not be what it’s truly made of, but looks that way).  This could totally pass for a non-alcoholic drink (if you peeled the label).  And check out the caps — white for white, red for red.  Genius!  These were about $6/bottle.



#2 500 ml — I don’t know what you want to call it — paper bottle.  I know there is a better name.  Plastic screw top.  Each container has 3 glasses of wine.  Or, hey, if it’s yours for the night, either get a straw or drink straight from the bottle!  The cost for these was about $5.




#3 3L Box Wine.  Box wine’s been around for awhile but is getting good now.  There are 4 bottles per box.  Per ‘them’ there are 24 glasses in a box — are there really 6 glasses in a bottle?  This one was selling for about $16.



Great to see what’s happening in wine world.  Size can matter based on the situation…BBQ, tailgating, night out, night in, sample, and more.  Taste on, my friends, taste on.

Bartender, a Malbec please







It’s April 17th.  Do you know what that means?  It’s Malbec World Day!  What a day to celebrate.  Open that bottle, pour, or grab that bartender’s attention (quickly!) and enjoy.

You might have that one varietal that you are stuck to, that you won’t steer clear of.  Unless you’re already a Malbec lover (which means you’re thrilled and had wine vs. coffee this morning), take today as your jumping off point to sample a new varietal.  You never know…you might have a new favorite.

And, have you ever wondered how many varietals there are for you to try?  Check out this list.

Happy Malbec Sipping.