2014, it promises to be a great year for Craft Beer in Ireland, and the 1st major event in Ireland was the Alltech Brews and Food Festival at the magnificent Convention Centre Dublin. It is also confirmed that this even will return in 2015 bigger and better.
This was my first time, I missed the 2013 event, meaning I had no point of reference, but this wasn’t going to stop the enjoyment of it. Part festival, part conference there was a great blend with the conference sessions, The Pub Series which I attended and the Sensory Courses.
This was truly an international event, I bumped into pub owners from around the world, and perhaps more surprisingly there were a lot of Irish Publicans here. Maybe the penny is dropping. There were some great speakers, Dr Pearse Lyons, President of Alltech gave a rousing and very inspiring talk before my friend Reuben Gray gave a talk to 300 eager to learn pub owners and managers. As you know Reuben is an avid blogger also, but he is currently the Chair of Beoir.
The themes of the talks were of a broad but practical nature, simple things like if you have bottles and they can’t be easily seen, have a menu. I expect a lot of people took something from each of the speakers. One of the more interesting topics was when Dean McGuinness from Newstalk & Premier Beers gave his definition of Craft Beer. But for me one of the best was the panel that features some standout publicans from the Irish Craft Beer scene, Seaneen from L Mulligan Grocer, Jason from Galway Bay Brewery and Geoff from 57 The Headline. An open forum Q&A session where they told a very attentive audiences about their businesses and what works for them.
Once the talks finished I went down to the main expo area which was really well laid out, and this time afforded me to the opportunity to speak to some great brewers from all corners. I particularly am thankful to Paddy from Windsor & Eton who talked alot about their beers, of which 2 feature in the 1001 Beers to Try Before you Die. I sampled the Republika Pilsener, and Conqueror 1075 Black IPA, both extraordinary beers, but I also enjoyed their Kohinoor, an east Indian Pale Ale with Cardamom, Coriander and Jasmine. I really hope someone picked them up for distribution to the ROI.
In an Irish context there were some Irish Debutants here, we’d Rascals, N17, Independent Brewing, Stone Barrel. N17’s Oatmeal stout was sensational, as well as the Gold Winning Rascals Chocolate Ginger Porter. Both medallists in the Dublin Cup. The full list of winners is here, but the Irish Winners are here; A special well done to all the medal winners, but Ireland is once again punching above its weight in the international scene. Long may it continue.
The overall winner from Denmark, was the Coisbo No 4: A Small Batch Russian Imperial Stout, thankfully i’d sampled before the announcement and the resultant scrum. Not only that they’d a very interesting Pale Ale with Elderflower too. Really hope they’ll be in Ireland soon. Also I was very very impressed with Spain’s, Molta Birra Revolution IPA from Catalonia.
But perhaps for me the story of the festival was the launch of N17, which has been launched by Sarah Roarty whose whole philosophy of total production means that even bye products such as the spent grain is repurposed into Granola, and Dog Biscuits. There are some oriental mushrooms to follow too. But not only did Sarah come to the show with a lovely Rye Ale, but also a fantastic Oatmeal stout, thankfully this was noticed by the judges and Sarah was awarded Bronze. For a Debut Beer, this was sensational! I also have the infamy of being the person who told her she’d won, while she was pulling a drink, it was a fantastic moment, and extremely well done. It must also be noted that Independent from Carroroe also won a medal on their festival debut.
We’re blessed with some fantastic food producers here in Ireland and they were well represented here, Ballymaloe, Ed Hick, Sheridans Cheeses, Carrigaline, Bretzel Bakery and many more. It was maybe a slight pity that there was only little morsels of these fabulous products available to us rather than say a Ed Hick Sausages on freshly baked Bretzel Bread?
The atmosphere at the three evening sessions was fantastic, and kudos to the organisers for putting on a fantastic event. Can’t wait for next year already. Maeve, Tara, Ashling, Holly and Tracey were all fantastic and a credit to Alltech, the hospitality was fantasic. Thank you so much.
Next Up for me, next weekend is The Winter Ale & Cask Festival @Franciscan Well Cork, then next month we have the Irish Craft Beer Fest in the CHQ Building in the IFSC.