Thursday, 13 April 2017

Beer History: Kilkenny Porter - An Alternative Reality Perhaps?

An experienced porter brewer and accomptant who for some years has brewed for, and conducted the business of two eminent breweries in the City of Dublin, well knowing the great advantage that must certainly arise to the person brewing of porter in Kilkenny or its vicinity, from the great consumption of the article there, and the decided preference he must get, on account of the material difference between the present price, and that which he would be able sell it for, will engage to brew porter equal, if not superior to any manufactures in Dublin, at a very trifling addition to the capital that may be at present employed in business by the proprietor.
Ample security will be given for the perfecting any engagement he will make. Application to be made to John Gorman Kennedy, esq. Porter Brewer, No. 28 King-street, Stephen's Green, before the 3d of April next. 
March 18, 1791
(Finn's Leinster Journal -  March 1791)

A bold claim by a Dublin brewer to be able to produce quality porter in Kilkenny, which was seemingly consumed in large amounts in and around the city. My reading of the advert is that, he is implying that no porter is being produced there and he feels that there is enough consumption to justify taking out said advert - in the top left of the front page!   Why else would he be offering his services if he - as an accountant/brewer (what a combination!) - didn't think it a lucrative plan? If his offer had been taken up (Assuming it wasn't of course!?) perhaps Kilkenny would now be synonymous with porter, and those micro and macro brewers that tout their Irish Red Ales might be pouring pints of the black stuff?

Or perhaps Mr. Kennedy was engaging in some clever marketing himself ... it's only ink on paper after all?

An interesting side note is that according to internet sources John Gorman Kennedy, a brewer from Dublin was to be transported from Ireland for his part in the 1798 rebellion at the same time as John Sweetman, the more famous Dublin brewer. (I have already discovered that allegedly a Carlow brewer was forced to sell up and leave the country before he suffered a similar fate.)

I can't find out where J.G.K. ended up but wonder did he continued to brew porter somewhere...


{With thanks as usual to the local history room in Carlow library}

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Food: Recipe - Pickled Hop Shoots

My hop plant husbandry took an unexpected turn recently, but one that tied in neatly with another of my interests...

Faced with a bunch of prunings from cutting back the first growth on my hops, and not wanting to waste the wonderfully coloured and fresh shoots, I decided to try my hand at pickling them. I've pickled before, especially eggs, and I knew that asparagus could be treated in this way so it seemed like an interesting experiment. Looking online the processes and ingredients seemed to vary somewhat so I ended up just doing my own thing - as usual.

So here we go...


  • A Big Handful of Fresh Hop Shoots (See Photo)
  • 1 tsp Dried Juniper Berries
  • 1 tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Caraway Seeds
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 cup (250ml) Cider Vinegar
  • 1 cup (250ml) Water


  • Wash and rinse the hop shoots removing any bugs or large leaves.
  • Sterilise a thick, sealable pickling jar.
  • Add all the ingredients except the hop shoots to a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  • Meanwhile blanch the hop shoots for a few seconds in boiling water and wind them carefully inside the jar, taking care not to break any.
  • Carefully pour the boiled liquid and spices into the jar with the hops, adding boiled water to top up if needed.
  • Leave to cool, then store in a fridge for at least a week so that the flavours blend and permeate into the shoots.

The shoots take on a good deal of the flavours of the vinegar and spices so feel free to add your favourites. They also retain a vegetal bitterness, which can probably be increased by reducing the blanching time. This was probably overkill but I was concerned about sterilising the shoots, in theory the acid in the vinegar should keep everything  safe anyway... (Please do your own research on this - I'm not a food bacteria specialist!)

I served them with some cheddar, pork pies and celery salt, paired with a nice almost savoury, thyme and orange peel saison called Curious Orange from Dungarvan Brewing Company but the shoots also work well on cheesy omelettes, bacon quiche or even on a hot dog with a dollop of mustard!

It's certainly whetted my appetite for trying to pickle more plants.

I must try some nettles next ... but they will need blanching...