The last weekend in May has been a fixture in the Irish Beer Scene. The INEC venue as part of the Gleneagle Hotel has hosted the event for 3 years now. It is in literally one of the nicest parts of the country.
A weekend of beers, music, food, and good craic, what more could you want?
Running along side the festival is the Beoir Champion Beer of Ireland awards. Having earlier this year ran the Cider equivalent, it’s the third year, and there has been some Stellar winners in the field.
This year was no different. Fresh from winning the Beoir Brewery of the Year award, White Hag from Sligo won numerous categories, and nearly took home the best in show for their Róc modern Pils lager. But they were just pipped by the 2017 Edition of Galway Bay’s 200 Fathoms Teeling Whiskey Barrel Aged imperial stout. White Hag took 2nd with Róc, and 3rd with their Bourbon Barrel Aged version of Black Boar.
The full list of winners is here
One of the aspects of this festival I really like is there is an effort to do something for the punters along the lines of beer education also. On the Sunday, there was a session ran by Dean McGuinness who focused on the sensory side of things, explaining how we perceive taste, while a good friend of our blog / podcast, Christina Wade who gave a chat on Women in Beer, and the history of same. The fantastic Caroline Hennessy ran a beer and food course also, but we really enjoyed the Cider and Cheese workshop that was ran by Jacqueline Stedman which had loads of West Cork cheese paired with the champion ciders of Ireland, and we’ll be writing this one up seperately. The National Homebrew Club were also represented all weekend doing brewing demos for curious folks
The breweries in attendance was a mix of the familiar faces, and some of our more westerly breweries who mightn’t be up in Dublin as often. So it was great to get to try some of their beers.
Some of the standout beers for us were as follows;
- Manor Brewing; Mont Pilsner, was just what I needed on Friday evening on arrival, a crisp refreshing Pils, especially after the drive down. Really also enjoyed their Black is the New Orange, Black Lager that was served through a randal with fresh orange.
- Killarney Brewing; A slightly changed recipe on their Saison, but it was a very well rounded saison, that is brewed using Dupont Yeast. Janice enjoyed their Scarlet Pimpernel, which is a red IPA
- Wild Bat Brewing; They had brewed a New England IPA, which was in a single 19l cornie keg. It had all those big US hops as you’d expect, juicy fruit aroma, but had maybe a bit more bitterness than perhaps is de riguer for the style. Which I personally enjoyed, as it added a complexity and challenge to the beer that is sometimes lacking in the fruit juice NEIPAs. Hopefully they’ll brew this up again.
- Boyne Brewhouse; they seem to have hit their stride now that the brew team is settled in, once again their IPA, Saison and Vienna Lager impressed. They’d brought a keg from their pilot series down, which was an imperial saison, if you embrace saison funkiness, you’ll love this. Though I preferred the standard version.
- Independent Brewing; They brought their session porter, Coconut Porter, with a nice depth of flavour, loads of the afore mentioned nut, with hints of chocolate, and coffee. This really did taste like a bounty bar once it warmed up a little, and can imagine it’d be a real treat on cask
- James Brown Brews; Semantic Pale Ale, that’s got a bit of rye in there to give a hint of spice, and liberal use of cascade and chinook hops it up nicely. Easy drinking, and sessionable.
- St Mel’s; The guys had brought a new Black IPA to the festival, which more on the roasty malt side, than IPA, but was a nice drinker. Janice also enjoyed their Brown Ale, which we sadly don’t seem to have too many of these brewed here.
- YellowBelly; The stellar Citra Pale, Castaway and The Passion were all lovely and refreshing in the heat, but the fisheye for their Summer Ale, was just absolutely fantastic.
The food options at the fest were all reasonably priced, and varied. The wood fired Pizza oven was perfect, and was very filling. There was a taco stand, and a bbq stand, though a pity they only did burgers, and pulled pork. There was a real opportunity to maybe do brisket or ribs. Also fair play to the chip van guy, who was lashing out curry chips til all hours on the Saturday
Hopefully this event will remain in the calendar, as it’s a great event in its own right. It has a very relaxed vibe altogether, combined with good beers, good company, good music, and good food, what more would you need. Oh, this is the mountains nearby. A nice spot for a festival if I do say so myself.