When it was announced that headline sponsors of the EBBC were going to be Molson Coors, Guinness & Smithwicks it caused some ripples among the blogging community. It’s important to highlight, that this wasn’t a Craft beer bloggers event, but a beer bloggers event. The simple truth is that without the support of the above mentioned companies it is very likely the event may not have gone ahead at all.
Now, the agenda for the evening was a walk from the Church over to St James’ Gate where we were going to get a tour of the facility, with food and beer in the Storehouse. My immediate thought was, we’re just going on an elongated version of the extremely popular tourist attraction, Storehouse tour. My fears were instantly banished when we arrived at the front gate on Thomas St.
Here we we given hi viz vests, eye glasses, and shown to the square where Guinness Master Brewer Fergal Murray was waiting to show us around. We were in for something special. We were in the hub of St James’ Gate. Walking through the yards toward the tunnel we were told more of the history of St James Gate. Down through the tunnel toward something, that no one else has seen yet. Brewhouse 4, the brand spanking new kit that Diageo have put in place to replace the now defunct Waterford, Kilkenny and Dundalk breweries. Needless to say this was an impressive feat of engineering, the sheer scale of it was mind boggling. Particularly for one or two of the craft brewers who tagged along.
Once we’d finished in here, we were brought up to the familiar store house building and whisked up to the 6th floor for drinks and food reception. These guys know how to do hospitality, 1.3m visitors a year can’t be wrong.
Here we were treated to the best of Irish produce, Oysters, Pork, Beef, farmhouse cheeses. Matched to Guinness’ beer. The Oysters with Extra Stout were delish. But the ribs were a knock out. The FES marinated burgers were good too (think that was Burger number 2 out of maybe 5 all weekend!) One of the surprises of the evening was that they’d brought over some Belgian Special Export – a rock solid beer at 8%. This just shows us what Guinness used to be, but this thing is a very distant relation to the current Guinness Draft. It’s Full of flavour. A subtle sweet roastiness. Why don’t you sell this here? Another surprise was the “Night Porter” a 5.5% chocolate porter brewed as part of an internal staff competition. This beer was really really good. And it would stand up very well against many craft stouts and porters. It’s a pity its only available in the Storehouse.
Also my favourite Matthew Curtis vine took place here – below for your viewing pleasure
From here we were whisked away to a secret location, The Candle Bar in Kellys Hotel on Georges St. This was the Pilsner Urquell party! As a special treat from Vaclav Berka, the master brewer there, brought over the unfiltered unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell in Oak casks. This is a good beer anyway, but to get to taste it this way was a true privilege. Here’s a video of Vaclav tapping the keg.
After being stuffed to the gills in the Storehouse, more food winged its way out, Pulled Pork, and Steak Sandwiches. They were delish. From here we moved on to the next bar in our group, but at this stage the day was beginning to catch up with us, and with an early start the next morning I got the bus home.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Guinness, Pilsner Urquell, and Molson Coors for their support and the level of hospitality was second to none. Whatever peoples opinions on the beers are, the guys and girls I met showed as much passion that i’ve seen from many brewers. I’m thankful it was Fergal leading us around and he answered any questions honestly and openly. This I fear wouldn’t have happened if we had someone from PR or marketing to look after us.