Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair Feb 2015

Now in it’s third year, we saw Alltech’s Craft Brews & Food Fair take place in Dublin’s magnificent convention centre. An evolving festival that has come on leaps and bounds since their first event. This has to be one of the best put together festivals in Europe.

Alongside the consumer and beer fan event, Irish Pubs Global held their Global Gathering Event which brings together people from all over the world who own bars in many countries around the world. More of a trade show, there was a number of interesting topics that were covered under the learning side, but it was here I saw one of the most interesting exhibits, Core Coffee. Chilled Coffee served on Nitrogen. Sounds mental. It is utterly delicious. The potential is huge. Many thanks to the guys who invited me to have a look. 

Now, onto the main event. The festival itself opened up on Friday at 5pm. There was music, there was people, and loads of beer. Needless to say I’d a great three days. What makes this event stand apart from others is the truly international feel to the event, with a large number of foreign breweries, as well as some of the best of our indigenous. 

First thing I noticed was the organisers had addressed a number of the concerns from the year before, namely the food options. This year there were plenty of options, including Donal Skehan’s Skoff Pies, Wrights of Marino, Ballymaloe, Sheridans, a veritable who’s who of the Irish Food Scene. I can attest to the deliciousness of the Skoff Pies, though was pining for Mash, Peas and Gravy (Northern boys love gravy!). The token system was quite simple, a token was €1.25, and you bought them in multiples of 4. Made a pint a fiver, but anyone who’s a festival veteran knows, its tasters, or halves at most if you want to truly enjoy the event. Tokens were used for both the Food and Beer! 

Now onto some of the stand out beers of the festival for me. In no particular order. Of ones i’d not tasted before.

  • Redwell – Steam Lager and White IPA
  • Rye River Brewing Company – Double IPA, Brown Ale, and Berlinerweisse
  • 8 Degrees – The Gasman Rye IPA
  • Beavertown – Bloody Ell, and Londerweisse (A collab with Dogfish Head)
  • Blacks of Kinsale – HiViz, Model T (Rum Barrel Aged particularly)
  • Dan Kelly’s Cider – Dan Kelly’s Draught Cider
  • Trouble Brewing – Beoir #2, and Indian Pale Lager
  • Hara Punk – Mi Ujsag, Wagner Ur? (Spiced Ale with Sour Cherry)
  • Rosita – Rosita White IPA (with Juniper)
  • Coisbo – 11 (Russian Imperial Stout aged in Sherry Cask)
  • Wicklow Wolf – Kentucky Common
  • Kentucky – Honey Barrel 
So thank you to all the brewers who brought so many great beers, but also a huge thank you to all the staff notably, the two Johns, Tracey and Maeve who as ever were great! Now, i’d really love to see what the Kentucky one is like if anyone wants to sponsor that one! 


Golden Pints 2014 – The Podcast Edition

This year, rather than the traditional written scribe of Golden Pints, we decided to do it as a podcast. 

It’s up on Itunes now, the feed link is for those on Android or don’t use Itunes, and the direct link to the MP3 for download is here

We broadly followed the same format as the Golden Pints, and ramble on a bit too.

So here are some of the areas we cover.
  • Best Irish Beer 2014 – Keg / Bottle
  • Best International / UK Beer 2014 – Keg / Bottle
  • Best Beer in Can / Bottle
  • Best Cask
  • Best Pub
  • Best Beer Experience
  • Best Off licence

Having listened back to the podcast, i’ve decided to summarise here (Janice’s in Italics)

My Best Irish Beer 2014 – 8 Degrees Full Irish – a full on hop forward pale ale – deliciously drinkable. Honourable mentions to Bo Bristle Imp Red and their Double IPA
Bo Bristle Imperial Red – big malty hoppy beer that we were privileged to have at Snobfest in Navan

Best Uk / International Beer: Brewdog – Black Eyed King Imp what a great dark beer, barrel aged version of Cocoa Psycho essentially – as mad as it sounds, and tastes amazing. Honourable mentions to Gamma Ray and Black Betty by Beavertown, and Magic Rock – Cannon Ball
Beavertown Gamma Ray – on Draught and Can one of my absolute favourites

Best Can – Gamma Ray – Beavertown – honourable mention for Oskar Blues G’Knight
Same as Wayne – Gamma Ray

Best Cask – Brú Autumn Ale was fantastic, as well as their core beers. Honourable mentions to Stone Barrel with their fantastic Day Trippin’ American Pale
Brú Autumn Ale – really enjoyed this at the ICBCF

Best Pub – This year, for me Farringtons  The Norseman, have stepped it up a gear – not only do they have a huge range of craft with macro to keep everyone happy they do nice food and have a massive whiskey selection – the new website really sends them over the top. Honourable mentions – Brewdock (aka my 2nd Home) Smyth’s on the Square Navan, The Oarsman Carrick on Shannon, and PJ Kavanagh’s Portlaoise. 
Smyth’s on The Square Navan – Huge Range of Craft in Bottles, and Arthur is such a great host

Best Beer Experiences, you’ll just have to listen to the podcast 🙂

Best Off Licence: Drinkstore, both for Offline and Online dealings – Superb. Honourable mentions to Smyth’s Navan, The Winehouse Trim, and Probus Wines which gave me one of the best experiences of 2014.
Carryout in Tyrellstown because they’ve a great range of craft, but the added bonus of the growler station – meaning we can enjoy some great draught only beers at home

Please share yours with us. Merry Christmas to all our readers/listeners, hope your 2014 was as good, and that 2015 is a great year

Hop O’ween! The Hop Monsters Strike Back!

This halloween, I wanted to blog about something different. Every man and his dog is blogging about pumpkin beers, which is great. However, while I like pumpkin beer as much as the next guy, sometimes I want to get a bit feral and go wild! 

gif from

Halloween is a traditional time of year when kids dress up as scary things, so what if we lined up some intense beers, Hop Monsters. Stuff thats like Jason Voorhees ploughing through the camp murdering and assaulting at will. So i’m gonna pair these beers with some of my favourite horror films!

So the line up tonight starts low and goes on to the finisher.

Our running order this evening;

1: Brewdog – Dead Pony Club 3.8% ABV
2: Beavertown – Gamma Ray – 5.4% ABV
3: Ska Brewing – Modus Hoperandi – 6.8% ABV
4: Brewdog – Jack Hammer 7.2% ABV
5: Mikkeller – Hop Burn High – 10% ABV
6: Evil Twin – Molotov Cocktail 13% ABV

I equate the progression of these beers like going from a PG13 film to an R Rated Massacre film like Halloween, or Friday the 13th.

First up – Dead Pony Club – a fun jaunty affair, but like Evil Dead : Army’s of Darkness, plenty of hops to get your attention here, without you wanting to cower behind the couch. Like Ash’s chainsaw, it’ll lob off your head if you underestimate it. Great balance and flavour – perfect session beer, and just right to get the palette warmed up

Next up, one of my all time favourites, Beavertown’s Gamma Ray – here we’ve stepped it up a bit, lots of hop and fruity action here, but enough strength to start you worrying, kinda like Let the Right One In. You know this thing can be dangerous if you toy around with it. It might look like fun, but like those Aliens in Mars Attacks it will destroy you if you take on too much! Absolute cracker this, if you see this in bottle or can (we don’t have it on draught yet) go for the can, its a better beer in can in my opinion.

Now we move stateside, and like Wrong Turn (and its 5 sequels), things are ramping up a notch, Denver Colorado maniacs Ska Brewing have unleashed Modus Hoperandi on us. Again in Can form. Its also made some appearances on draught in Ireland. This is a tropical fruit flavour bomb, which is so juicy you just want more! Don’t get greedy though as this thing will knock you down quick smart. The piney smell will almost make you think you’re running away from those inbred hillbillies in Wrong Turn!

Back up to the wilds of Aberdeenshire, for Brewdog’s Jackhammer. The matching horror film here is 2003’s Toolbox Murders, in which the protagonist uses a variety of tools to dispatch his hapless victims, including of course a hammer! This is Brewdog’s homage to West Coast IPAs, a single malt and an insane amount of hops. This 7.2% beaut tastes upfront of tropical / citrussy fruits, then the bitterness whacks your noggin like that hammer and lasts as it goes down.

Next up is those wild guys from Mikkeller. Hop Burn High an Imperial IPA – just like leatherface in Texas Chainsaw, this thing will cut you up! God Damn! Insane aroma on this thing, it smells like it would destroy you! Burning my nasal hairs! The aroma fades to a resinous and viscous mouthfeel almost sweetness that finishes to a dry and bitter finish. This is a big beer. Make no mistakes! 

The finale, Molotov Cocktail – by Evil Twin – not to be outdone by his brother over in Mikkeller, he’s gone full hop cannon! Like Event Horizon, you won’t need taste buds where we’re going as the insane amount of hops in this beer will render them numb, instantly on contact. However I get a really sweet taste off this upfront, no doubt boozy as its 13% but doesn’t taste like that ABV. This thing will send you to another dimension.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this spin on beer at Halloween, I still like pumpkin beers, and have a couple to enjoy. But lets remember, hops are kings for me, and the hoppier the better. Thanks to my local indie off licences who stock these beers!