The great LL Cool J once said “Don’t call this a comeback, I been here for years” and although I haven’t written a long form blog post in a minute and a half, I’ve still been knocking around, posting on the facebook page, going to events and tweeting about stuff now and then.
Being in the final year of a degree my time is usually taken up by writing assignments or other boring things, but this past weekend I was lucky enough to be invited by Alltech to attend their yearly beer and food festival in the convention centre Dublin.
The festival hosted breweries from Ireland, the UK, Germany, the US, Spain and a few other countries as well as some of Dublin’s best street food sellers and a few spirits and wine producers, so it was a nice mixed bag to keep everyone happy for the weekend.
I didn’t bother taking pictures of the beers because despite how well run the event was, there was one major letdown, crappy opaque plastic glasses which meant there was absolutely not point photographing the beers. I did get a few snaps of the stands of my favourite brews of the weekend though.
Reel Deel from Crossmolina in Mayo were in attendance and picked up a Medal in the Dublin Beer Cup for their Say Nowt Stout, I had a few schnakey halves of their Irish Blonde Ale which is a nice sessionable hoppy amber number.
Trouble Brewing from Kildare had a few specials on for the weekend, their ever deadly Vietnow IPA was in fine form and I thought their Rhubarb and Custard Ale and Raspberry Weisse City Berliner were both great too, but their standout for the weekend was easily the Ambush 2.0 Fresh and Juicy Pale Ale. A 5% abv fruity hop slap in the face and definitely worth hunting down when it’s released soon.
The Wood Quay Brewing Co. boys won a Silver and “Best Ale” in the competition for their Pilgrim Red Ale but for me it was their The Hunted Deer IPA which really impressed, and something I look forward to trying it again soon.
Rye River Brewing had their newly re-branded McGargles range pouring. It seems the least loved family in craft beer have disappeared in all but brand name now. Presumably Ned, Rosie, Mary, Meabh, Francis, Dec, Frank and the rest crawled back into whatever corner of hell they came from. They added three new beers to the range, Little Banging IPA (3.8% session IPA), Double Banging IPA (8.0% Double IPA) and Export Stout (self explanatory).
All three were really nice but I actually really loved the Little IPA, it’s a proper session beer and I can see it being something I’d make a go to if it’s widely available.
Yellowbelly from Wexford weren’t at the festival themselves but their new Pineable Double IPA named Unto The Breach was pouring at their good friend’s Hope Brewing’s stand. I loved this beer and it was one of my favourites of the weekend. It does exactly what it says on the tin. Hope also had a new Oatmeal IPA pouring and again this was right up me street, worth grabbing if you see it pouring or a bottle on a shelf somewhere.
Black’s of Kinsale were pouring some rare good beers too, they had all their usual hits on tap and I was drawn back to the Hi-Viz double IPA once than once, but they also had their World’s End Imperial Stout aged in whiskey barrels pouring. The regular version is like a big bold chocolate milkshake and this is like it’s grown up brother with a little more complexity and a nice warmth from the wood. I really hope I find this pouring in Dublin or a bottle of it in an offie, cracking beer.
Independent Brewing from Connemara had one of the hits of the show flowing all weekend. Their Coconut Porter was met with near universal love and adoration from everyone I spoke to besides one lad who admittedly doesn’t like dark beers or coconuts, so we’ll let him away with it. It’s a really nice low abv porter but the body is nice and full, the malt base gives some lovely caramel, chocolate and coffee notes and the toasted coconut just gives it a little extra oomph.
Another one of the stars of the show this year was Boyne Brewhouse’s new Imperial Stout which is one of the best imperial stouts I’ve had in a long, long time. They had three versions pouring, one aged in bourbon barrels, one in sherry casks and one aged in new raw wood (a barrel that wasn’t used to age any spirits). All three were fantastic and tasting them side by side was a really interesting way to see how the various barrel types gave different characteristics to the beer. This is a must try beer in my opinion.
Barcelona Beer Company where on hand with a few of their beers, their Miss Hop won a medal and rave reviews from judges and punters alike, and The Crafty Hoor agrees, she’s a cracker! I hear this beer and other Barcelona Beer Company brews will be more widely available on Irish shores in the near future and if the rest as as good as the IPA we’re all in for a treat, keep your eyes open for their arrival!
Last but by no means least, The White Hag from Sligo and Kinnegar from Donegal had a combined stand where they sold beers from both breweries as well as their new collaboration Coffee Nitro Stout which was only fecking spectacular, a properly world class stout with bags of coffee, chocolate and caramel with enough raostiness to balance it all out. I also tried a little of this year’s Barrel Aged Black Boar from The White Hag. Black Boar is, in my opinion, the best regularly produced beer on this fine island and the barrel aged version this year is even better. I just wish I could have had a full bottle while sitting in front of a fire!
So that’s a rather long but strangely not very detailed account my my galivanting last weekend. Big thank you again to Alltech for the invite and all of the brewers and staff who had the chats with me, looked after me and were generally sound all weekend.
Hopefully the updates here and on FB will be more regular from here on in, but the next three months of university work will be my priority of course.
The Crafty Hoor