The Irish Craft Beer & Cider Festival 2013 – Thoughts Pt 1

Its back, bigger and better than before. And this time its personal! Sorry I was getting a little carried away there. The 2013 Irish Craft Beer & Cider Festival has come to a close today. Its a little early to know what the final numbers and impressions were, I can only convey my own thoughts. 

It was my first visit, in each of the last couple of years i’ve not been around for one reason or another. This year was the biggest incarnation yet, reflecting the exceptional levels of growth seen in the Craft Beer & Cider industry in Ireland over the last 18 to 24 months.

So here’s the vital statistics. Over 100 different beers and ciders from and over 20 breweries represented this year this was undoubtedly the biggest event yet. Among the brewers there were some new additions who were to be welcomed. The distilling world were also represented by Dingle Distillery and Teelings.

As a fully fledged member of beoir I was able to see this event from behind the ropes so to speak as I was volunteering for 2 of the days. The thursday evening and Saturday. But there was plenty of time to wander around and take everything in.

In the industry’s hall at the RDS you have ample space for the brewers, and plenty of room to lounge around. A convenient location serviced well by public transport.
Now onto the beers, sadly i didn’t get many pictures, but there were some sensational beers on offer this weekend. A lot of festival specials. There were the usual brews, and collaborations. You had O’Haras and JW Sweetman with Belgian Connection, Trouble Brewing & Galway Hooker with Troubled Hooker. Fantastic choices available and it would be nearly impossible to try all of them. So which ones stood out for me. 

In no order of preference, The Kinsale Pale Ale through the randal was a truly unique way to enjoy and already well hopped pale ale, I sampled it with the Citra hops, and to be honest it was very nice. But, I just preferred the overall balance of the regular. Sam is a really friendly guy and it was great to be able to chat to him about his brewery which he is opening shortly in Kinsale. It’s also great to be involved with the Beoir fundraising where some time in the new year Sam is going to host up to 40 people for a special batch brew. At the time of writing his indiegogo funding stands at €4455 (Kinsale Craft Brewery Indiegogo Page) with 7 days left – if you can spare a fiver – give it a go. 

The lads from 8 Degrees, also had a new one for us, Amberella, and american style amber beer. This is coming to us soon – but it was great to get a sample of this at the festival. Yet again the guys have delivered a lovely beer – very quaffable with great flavours. Fresh on the back of the Hopoff between Cyclone and Hurricane the guys are on a roll. Clearly they are not resting on their laurels and continue to innovate and bring us more to their already very solid range.

Looking locally, being from Meath it was great to meet the lads behind Bru Brewery(@brubrewery), having launched last week at the Fairways in Dundalk, and being tapped in a local pub in Navan (@Thecentralnavan) on the Wednesday evening before the festival began. Bringing with them to the festival they had Rua (Red Ale) a Stout, and two lagers, Lager X and Lager Y. I must say the Rua was fantastic, nitroed head so very creamy, but full of flavour. The stout was also very good. Being very aware of their target market in local pubs in Meath initially, they had two lagers. In my opinion Lager X was better, and if that and the stout and red ale were tapped in my local, i’d drink my weight in them. The reaction to them was great, always a lot of people around, and I must say the branding is particularly impressive. I wasn’t the only one who commented on that. The initial reaction in The Central has obviously been impressive as the keg sold out within 24 hours. Well done lads.

I realise this is quite a long blog post – so i’m gonna leave it there for now and post further thoughts over the next day or two.

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