Stout and oysters for Calves Week

In The Drink - All At SeaAugust sailing news may be dominated by Cowes Week but there is plenty going on elsewhere.

In the same week that 1,000 plus boats and 8,500 sailors take over Cowes for the regatta first run in 1826, across the sea in Ireland in Cork Harbour the younger, smaller and more skittish Calves Week Regatta goes on. Plan for next year now!.

First run in 1977, it now attracts some 70 boats and 500 souls enjoying a rather more relaxed ‘recreational boating’ experience.

Calves Week is organised by the Schull Harbour Sailing Club in West Cork and all run out of the small Fastnet Marine Centre on the end of the pier. No race officer’s computerised back-room bunker for them! But they do have a title sponsor, Howard Holdings, a local firm.

The week-long regatta includes an overnight race, passage races and courses around the three Calf Islands of West Cork. Hence the regatta name – surely not the Irish poking fun at the elder sister!

Plus, as any proper regatta should, it has rowing races in sea gigs and something for every family crewed boat.

And there is no shortage of evening entertainment, too, backed up by Murphy’s stout and Cork Dry Gin.

Down in the south of Ireland, Murphy’s tends to hold sway over Guinness. Matt black with a barley white head rather than the gloss black with a white head of Guinness, it has the distinctive earthiness of traditional porter and, of course, goes well with oysters.

Roasted barley in the mix gives the dark colour, their own yeast the distinctive flavour and up to ten days of maturing the full-bodied result. It is readily available in the UK in Irish pubs and elsewhere.

Cork Dry Gin was first distilled in 1793. It is more like a Dutch genever than a London Dry, halfway to a Spanish Larios. It is excellent neat or over ice and the locals claim “CDC” makes the world’s best gin and tonic. Well, they would, wouldn’t they?

It’s not so easy to find over here, so bring a bottle back if you are ever in the Emerald Isle.

If you can’t make it over there, right now in the UK you can enjoy Marston’s Oyster Stout. It is dark, rich and smooth with a coffee-coloured head and full bodied at 4.5 per cent abv and, as the name suggests, brewed to go with oysters and seafood – so don’t automatically reach for the wine list for these dishes.

The character comes also from Marston’s own strain of yeast, a very active yeast which stirs up the brew in which Fuggles and Goldings hops are equally important for their fruity and spicy contribution to the taste.

Brewed as an easy drinking beer, it is nevertheless a meaty drink. It is available on draught or in bottle at shops such as Waitrose (£1.70).

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