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Talk about leaving it to the last minute – I’ve only been blogging really for 6 months but have been consuming craft beers a long time. Its been a great year for the Irish Breweries, some fantastic innovation and product out in the market. Its great to see.
Ok, so here goes, I personally found it very difficult to whittle the categories to winners, so i’ve bottled it and am going to list my favourites!
Best Irish Keg;
The obvious choice would be Of Foam and Fury by Galway Bay, Jason and Chris really have upped the ante with their beers. It is of course an unbelievable DIPA. However we saw some great other beers, 8 Degrees had 3 Standouts this year, Amber Ella, and the Northern vs Southern Hemisphere Hop off of Cyclone and Hurricane. Since its debut at ICBCF Amber Ella was sensational. Also a shout out to my local Brewery, Bru, with their cascade hopped Red Ale, Rua, after some initial carbonation teething issues, this has gone from strength to strength. Blacks of Kinsale also impressed with their debut Kinsale Pale Ale and their Black IPA. So for me, after all that Amber Ella just shades it.
Best Irish Cask
As others have mentioned, there hasn’t been a whole lot of Irish Cask, but there are some stand outs, I haven’t tried many, but I enjoyed Coffee Porter by Franciscan Well on a recent trip south. The lads in Bru managed a Cask version of Rua, which when I tried it it was a bit young. Metalman Pale Ale on cask never disappoints, but the standout for me was Galaxy Pale Ale by Trouble Brewing – pulled with a sparkler – a rarity over here, was smooth and kept a lovely creamy head all the way down.
Best Irish Bottle
I normally stick to draught however I have some great bottled beers this year from our breweries. 8 Degrees with their Back in Black series late in the year rocked in with Zeus Black IPA was very good. Dungarvan’s traditional winter seasonal Coffee & Oatmeal Stout was once again superb. But I really enjoyed Mountain Man’s Hairy Goat
Being based in Dublin means i’ve some great bars to choose from, the Cottage Group is strongly represented in Dublin, and I must say The Brewdock has regained my favourite status, after a lull midyear, the management team was tweaked and the place is bouncing again. It would be remiss of me not to mention Against the Grain which is capably run by Paddy, however its just the wrong direction for me on my trip home. Also have been very impressed by WJ Kavanagh’s and their 5 cask taps, and their great food. We also had a great time in Cork, the Bierhaus, and Abbotts Ale House were both fantastic. So it’s the Brew Dock this year.
Best Off License
This is where it gets more difficult. Drinkstore in Stoneybatter, has an unparalleled range in what is an Aladdin’s cave of beers from around the world. They also have a great online store with reasonable delivery charges. My favourite in Dublin for 2013 though is Probus Wines on Fenian St. Not only does Paul carry a great range of world wines and beers. He also has a knock out deli on site. There are regular tasting events, which are ran each week and are suitably themed. A special shout out must go to The Winehouse in Trim, ran by Alan & Rodney attached to the Malt House Pub, this is a veritable treasure trove in the royal county, and people come from near and far – mainly to snaffle the Rua in Bottles!
I’ve got to say, @thebeernut and @beoirfinder both have great dry sense’s of humour. Andrew usually makes me chuckle. Even when taking the mick out of me. Keep it up in 2014. Also special mention to @taleofale, and @beermack_
I really enjoy reading Alex’s blog – Beermack Blog as he always has a wide range of beers for review. I also really enjoy Beernut’s Blog and Tale of Ale blogs. I’ll give the not to John and the beernut blog.
Food and Beer Pairing
I matched 8 degrees Howling Gale with Smoked Salmon Parcels on Christmas Day, and I must say the citrus matched the cream cheese salmon pate beautifully.