Franciscan Well Brewery Pub, Cork, Ireland Franciscan Well Brewery Pub, Cork, Ireland

Review of Franciscan Well Pub Tour The MIT staff spent an evening enjoying the Franciscan Well Brewery Tour in Cork City, Ireland

An evening at Cork's Franciscan Well Brewery Pub

by Bob Foley of My Ireland Tour, March 2018

As a native of Cork and a loyal patron of the many unique and intimate establishments dotted across the city it was no surprise that a tour of one its most famous public houses (Pubs) would be high on my bucket list. Long famous with Corkonians for their delicious craft beers as well as the atmospheric bar and outdoor seating the Franciscan Well has always had a special place in the hearts of the discerning pub-going people of Cork. The idea of doing a tour of this wonderful institution and learning more about its history and its beers & stouts seemed like the perfect day out. And so, together with two of my colleagues here in the My Ireland Tour office, it was decided that this was a mission that did indeed need executing slippedy-quick.

"So if ya wanna do a tour you're gonna need a guide!"

Enter: Kate. Kate has been with the Fran-Well (as it is known to its friends) for over two years now, during that time she has had great success running tours and has morphed triumphantly into their resident marketing guru. From first email to first meet she was a delight to deal with. She met us in the bar (where else), pleasantries were exchanged and so our tour began. Her infectious enthusiasm and easy going manner made her a perfect fit and we were instantly at ease enjoying the banter. So far, so awesome!

Oh its History you're after?

Kate started with a brief rundown of the history of the Fran-Well. How she managed to fit so much into so little I do. Not. Know. Wow! Lets quickly run through the highlights (I don’t want to ruin the tour for you):

How is beer made? Magic and skill!

The next part of our tour took us through the brewery itself. We got a full tour of the actual brewery floor, moving through the entire cyle of beer production from tank to tank. We met the guys who work there and saw what it takes to actually make a batch. I have to admit during this portion of the tour I was lost in a maze of tanks, pipework and shiny valves but Kates excellent knowledge of the brewing process kept us afloat! From what I could gather they do something like the following:

Using the process above and some variations of it they produce a whole variety of delicious finely balanced beers and stouts. They currently produce five main types of beer: Rebel Red, Cheiftain IPA, Blarney Blond, Friar Weisse and Shandon Stout. Of these my favourite by far was the Cheiftain. It just works and I dont know why. Kate graciously offered to explain which takes us to the next and final part of the tour: The tasting!

Franciscan Well Brewery Pub, Cork, Ireland Franciscan Well Brewery Pub, Cork, Ireland

"the sort of beer you want to bring home to your mother to see if she approves of you marrying it"

Can you imagine a brewery tour without beer tasting? No? Neither can the Fran Well

This was by far my favourite part of the tour. Kate gave a us a detailed explanation of the genisis of each of their five main beers and also what sort of tasting notes we might experience with them. Each beer was analysed, sipped and analysed some more. We really got to see how Shane (the owner and founder of the brewery) took a simple idea like Cheiftain IPA and turned it into one of the most perfectly balanced and wildly popular beers in Ireland.

Ok now I'm gonna tell you a story...

On a tour like this its hard to choose a favourite moment because well... its all amazing but there is one moment that stuck out and it will take a little explaining to really understand it so stick with me...

See a few years ago this Shane guy (Franciscan Well Head Brewer and all round legend) had a bright idea: Lets ask the good people in the Jameson distillery (just down the road here in Cork) if we could borrow a couple of their finest whiskey barrels. "Why not!" he thought... Sure wouldnt it be a great idea to put Franciscan Well stout into whiskey barrels to see if it can take on some of that silky smooth Jameson taste for itself!

Now realise Shane's stout was pretty smooth all on its own... but... Its seems that this Shane fellow was a bit of an experimenter so off he went to Midleton to ask for seme barrels. It seems the sound people at Jameson apparently liked the cut of his jib because they went ahead and said "No Bother! How many would like?" (I may be paraphrasing here).

So Shane went back and made a whole batch of stout in Jameson Irish Whiskey barrels and my oh my was it tasty.. so much so that it sold out in 24 hours! Satsified he had done some solid work in furthering the field of knowledge around his particlar craft Shane dutifully returned the barrels and that was that. Or so we thought.....

See here is where the story should end if it were not for another chap by the name of Dave Quinn. Dave was of a similar mind to Shane (an experimenter) and just so happened to be the Head of Whiskey Science (Yeah, there are a lot of awesome job descriptions in this article) over in Jameson. Upon return of his barrels (now soaked in Fran Well stout) Dave said to himself: "hey... why not fill these bad boys with some fully matured Jameson and see what they taste like in a few months!". A few months passed and Dave went to check the contents of the barrels. How was it you ask? It was nice, oh but was it nice! No, A taste such as this needs far larger words than "nice"! It was breathtaking, magnificent, wonderous, mind-blowing and a whole host of other multi-sylible words. It was in a single word: Perfect!

My Favourite part of the whole experience

And so that is the story of Jameson Caskmates. One of the most popular Irish whiskeys to be produced in recent years. Kate told us this story. It was a good story and she told it well. The part that really made me love this story and this tour was the bit that came next: She paired a glass of the various Franciscan Well beers with a glass an appropriate Jameson and carefully instructed us how to drink them together. A sip from one glass followed by the other. Hold the beer slightly longer than required in the mouth. She called it a boilermaker and it was truly a revelation. Franciscan Well Beer and Jameson. This pairing and the taste and sensations it produced were the highlight of the tour for me. It really made me see what a truly unique thing the people at the Fran-Well are doing.

How it all ends

The tasting was over. The tour was finished. We learned a lot, we saw a lot, we laughed a lot and we drank even more. Seeing as we were a special group Kate decided we needed a parting gift. A gift suited to the occasion, a gift that occupies a deep and symbolic part of any Irish persons heart: She gave us a "bag of cans". Of course these were cans of the finest beers this country has to offer: Franciscan Well beers!

Other Offerings

With the tour complete we thought our time at the Fran Well was over but Kate had one more trick up her sleeve: She motioned towards the pizza counter out back and said in a low hushed voice that the real pro's finish a night here with a pizza and a pint. We considered ourselves such people and so sat down to a delicious freshly made stone oven cooked pizza acompanied by a pint of the Fran Wells finest. Conversation slowed to a trickle as we eagerly wolfed down our perfectly paired pizzas and pints. With our minds and our bellies filled we left the Fran Well, happy content and far more knowledgable on the history and products a of a little place in a little corner of Cork that continues to punch well (pun intended) above its weight. Win!

Franciscan Well Brewery Pub, Cork, Ireland Franciscan Well Brewery Pub, Cork, Ireland

Location, Opening Hours and Contacting the Franciscan Well Brewery Pub

Finding the Franciscan Well Brewery Pub

Franciscan Well Brewery Pub is located in the heart of Cork City. Located on the north bank of the north chanel of the River Lee.

Franciscan Well Brewery Pub
14b North Mall,
Sunday's Well,
Cork City,
+353 21 4393 434

Pub Opening Hours

Friday 1p.m.–12:30a.m.
Saturday 1p.m.–12:30a.m.
Sunday 1–11p.m.
Monday 1–11:30p.m.
Tuesday 1–11:30p.m.
Wednesday 1–11:30p.m.
Thursday 1–11:30p.m.

Tour Times

Summer Schedule:
Sept 2017 - May 2018

  • 2pm
  • 4pm (Reccomended)
  • 6pm

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