A Visit at the West Kerry Brewery

Mmmmhh, beer…..

Fermenting tank
Fermenting tank in the West Kerry Brewery (© Johann Brandstätter Photography)

Yes, I do love beer. And so, shortly after moving to Ireland I found out that this country is an absolute El Dorado for micro breweries and craft beer producers!

It was only the logical next step to do some research and find out where the nearest of these delightful facilities could be found and – lo and behold – there are two within less than an hour’s drive from where I live!

After some e-mailing back and forth, my wife got me an appointment for a tour at the West Kerry Brewery in Ballyferriter, near the western tip of the Dingle Peninsula. I admit that I was excited like a kid on the way to the toy shop and I was not to be disappointed!

The brewery stands next to the Tig Bhric Pub in Riasc, but if you’d look for the marks of an industrial facility, you would remain clueless. No big brewing hall, no massive warehouse with hundreds of casks. All that gave me a hint was a couple of steel tanks I saw when I pulled up at the pub (which is for sale, by the way).

Owners, West Kerry Brewery in Ballyferiter
v (© Johann Brandstätter Photography)

While my son of two made contact with several dogs and Bobo, the one-eyed cat, I did the same with the owners, Adrienne and Paul.

Adrienne immediately took me under her wings and explained the principles of beer brewing  to me. Not that I have never heard this before, but since college I was more interested in sampling the product than learning about the production process.

Patiently she walked me through the stages, explaining fermenting and conditioning tanks and pointing out interesting details that I had never heard about before.

For example, did you know that ‘bottle-conditioned beer’ means that fresh yeast is added to the beer before the bottling, so it continues to ferment?

Filling bottle
Hand-filling bottles at the West Kerry Brewery (© Johann Brandstätter Photography)

Bottling is where Daniel entered the picture. He is a soft-spoken, bespectacled guy wearing a wool jumper, who fills and caps the bottles – by hand! Don’t get me wrong, he is not using a spoon to fill the bottles or a hammer to fix the cap, that’s done with simple machinery. But placing the bottles under the spout, putting the caps on and all the other little operations are done by hand.

To process one 400-litre batch takes Daniel a little over a day.

‘And what’s next?’, I asked him. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘we take the bottles upstairs and warm them up a little so the condensate dries off and the labels stick properly.’

Labeling bottles
Labeling bottles at the West Kerry Brewery (© Johann Brandstätter Photography)

So ‘upstairs’ is my next destination. Here, Nora is sitting, carefully labeling and stamping each bottle before it is packed into boxes, ready for shipping.

‘It’s like a therapy for me’, she said, ‘and what else would I do. Sit at home?’ Right she is!

Of course I did not part without tasting one of the beers; I had a sip of Cúl Dorcha and loved it, down to the bitter sting on my tongue!

I left, armed with Adrienne’s tasting notes and the distinct impression that at West Kerry Brewery they have a passion for beer and they enjoy what they do!


Facts about the West Kerry Brewery (or Beoir Chorca Dhuibhne in Irish):

The brewery was founded 2008 and had until recently an output of 400 litres per week. Because of the high demand, production has now been doubled and according to co-owner Adrienne Heslin, it still looks as if that is not enough.

The three beers continuously produced are:

  • Carraig Dubh, a smooth, traditional Porter with flavors of coffee and vanilla (6% abv).
  • Cúl Dorcha, a dark, fruity ale with hints of chocolate, balanced with the bitterness of hops (5% abv).
  • Béal Bán, a pale ale with subtle hop aroma and a caramel malt aftertaste (5% abv).

The Brewery is located in Riasc, near the village of Ballyferriter on the R559, right next to the Tig Bhric Pub (which in turn is next to the road sign pointing to the Wine Strand).

If you are interested in a brewery tour with beer tasting, simply join an organised tour with Ireland To See.

Gallery: Sunrise at Dunmore Head, Dingle Peninsula

(Very) Early morning at Dunmore Head, the most westerly point on the Irish mainland…

Getting up at 4:30 is never something I particularly cherish, neither is driving narrow country roads in pitch darkness, but watching the sun rise on this stunning place more than compensates for the effort!

Caution: extra care advised when marching out to the outer end of the cliffs on Dunmore Head in the middle of the night (or even in broad daylight)! If you lose your footing, you may face a 20 meter drop and a very hard landing.

(All images are copyright ©Johann Brandstätter Photography and available for licensing. Please contact me for details.)

Impressions from the Helly Hansen Killarney Adventure Race

The 4th Killarney Adventure Race took place on this first Saturday in October and I had the pleasure to be there shooting…

Forget about the frequent downpours that soaked everybody to the skin from the start of the race (including yours truly).

Not that I would be in a shape to participate in such a competition, but I certainly felt infected by the spirit. The athletes were in such a good mood that I couldn’t help feeling the same.

I could not count the many thumbs up, waves, smiles and so on, that people were showing when they saw me pointing my tele zoom at them. Even in the worst weather I got saluted and asked ‘How are you today?’

No surprise that I instantly decided: I’ll be back…

(All images are copyright © Johann Brandstätter Photography. You can contact me for licensing at: johann[at]jb-photography[dot]com)

Inch Strand on the Dingle Peninsula

Inch village is about 19 km west of Castlemaine in county Kerry, on the famous Wild Atlantic Way.

Inch strand is a small peninsula that sticks out into the Dingle Bay like a tooth and on a day like today is a paradise for surfers and other sporty people. But even just sighseeing blows your socks off with this kind of panorama.

Inch is only 15 minutes away from where I live, so when weather and light look right I jump into my trusty van and go for a shooting. Highly recommended!

As always, all images are copyright © Johann Brandstätter Photography and available for licensing.

Gallery: Ballyseede Castle, Co. Kerry, Ireland

Ballyseede Castle is an impressive building not far from Tralee, Co. Kerry.

The castle is now a hotel for well-to-do visitors to Kerry, but it is well worth a visit even if you can’t afford the heft price tag for the accommodation.

For more about the history of Ballyseedy Castle look at Mariela Zamfirova’s blog post The Kingdom Holds Many Secrets.

(All Images Copyright Johann Brandstätter Photography)

Nuclear power is here to stay in Bulgaria

After the 2013 change of government in Bulgaria it looks like nuclear power is going to remain a major factor in the country’s energy mix.

Kozloduy NPP
The nuclear power plant in Kozloduy, northern Bulgaria with the two active reactor blocks (Image Copyright Johann Brandstätter/ JB Photography)

The image shows the NPP Kozloduy near the Danube in northern Bulgaria. The two round structures are the reactor containment buildings for blocks 5 and 6, each one delivering a tad over a thousand megawatts.

Since late last year the Bulgarian government is in negotiations with the US energy giant Westinghouse over the construction of one, possibly two, more reactors at Kozloduy. Moreover, plans to revive the abandoned construction of another nuclear power plant near Belene are openly discussed  in parliament.

Bulgaria is already the largest exporter of electric power in the Balkans.

See more energy images website .

(Image Copyright Johann Brandstätter/ JB Photography, no image may be used in any way without express permission. Please contact me for licensing)

Ultra Large Container Ship M/V COSCO England

Johann Brandstätter:

Images from a morning shoot on the River Elbe at Brunsbüttel, Germany.

Originally posted on Ships & Ports:


(All Images Copyright Johann Brandstätter/ JB Photography)

The COSCO England is one of eight so-called ultra large container ships (ULCS) of the COSCO-B elgium-Type. So far, three of these vessels were delivered to the owner COSCO Container Shipping, the others are to follow this year (2014).

Vessel details:

IMO 9358905
Length over all 366 m
Beam 51 m
Draught 12 m
Deadweight Tons 156,605 ts
Container Capacity 13,386 TEU

With its more than impressive dimensions she is well beyond New PANAMAX size, that means even when the extended Panama Canal gets operational, she still won’t fit in!

In the images above she is seen soon after leaving Hamburg Port, just passing the west entrance of the Kiel Canal (of course sho won’t fit into that one either)

To get an impression of the size, click on the image where COSCO England overtakes the Heluan.  The…

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Travelling Photographer & Photographing Traveller


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