The 2nd Alltech Craft Beers & Brews Festival #alltechbrews Dublin February 2014

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.

Revolution in the Royal County Part 2

Trim, home to King John’s castle, the river Boyne, and Bru Brewery. Also home to The Malt House Pub, which has newly opened the “Sowing Room” in their fantastic attached Off License, The Winehouse.

On Friday the 18th of October, this was officially launched to the public, and Rodney Leonard was kind enough to invite yours truly to the launch night. 

The event was showcasing the beers from Bru Brewery ( / @brubrewery), but also we had entertainment, and a beer tasting session presented by Dean McGuinness (@beermessiah) of Premier Beers, you may know him from his regular slot on Movies n Booze with Sean Moncrieff on Newstalk. There was also a great abridged show by Susan Boyle (@miss_susanboyle /, who has a fantastic one woman show called “A Wine Goose Chase”

The tasting by Dean brought us through the beers newly installed at the Malt House. From Kona we had long board lager, which i’ve talked about before, supped many a pint on my recent trip to Florida, Thwaites Wainwright, Red Hook Long Hammer IPA, and Columba. Dean talked to us a little about each brewery and the styles and marketing strategy. We weren’t finished yet, there was a treat in store for us. There were cold glasses with Vanilla Haagen Daaz Ice Cream which then had Timmermans Strawberry Lambic poured over the top, an adult milk shake and it was delish. To cap it all off we’d a sup of the champagne style beer, Deus. Personally i didn’t like the Deus, i’ve always preferred 3 monts. 

All in all it was a great evening and the local Trim crowd were definitely piling in on the Bru beers, the lager was flying out. So much so that there was a resupply run done during the evening.

The next day Paddy from Bru had invited me along to a brewery tour he was doing with Rodney and some of the pub customers, who were going to the Kilbeggan Distillery for a tour. It was great to see the set up of Bru, and to hear where they are hoping to go.

Major Kudos to the lads who undoubtedly had a few the night before and still were there despite some sore heads. 

Also the range of beers in The Winehouse is really spectacular. Definitely the best i’ve seen in Meath so far. Mrs Irishbeersnob summed it up best, when walking into the Sowing Room. It felt like a kid walking into a sweet shop. Well Done. Best of Luck with it, and from talking to Rodney yesterday, its quite clear that customers will support this venture, and are coming from all over, i’ll be more than happy to pop over from Navan.

Revolution in the Royal County part 1

Meath, the Royal County as it is affectionately known the world over. Home of such historical sites such as The Hill of Tara, Newgrange, and The Battle of the Boyne site. But something is stirring. The craft beer revolution that is booming along in Dublin is slowly reaching out to its neighbouring county. 

Like anything progress can seem initially slow, but once we have the spark i’d expect to see it lift off like a rocket. In Navan the main town in Meath the pub at the forefront at the moment is The Central. A multifloored, multiroomed bar located on Trimgate Street. They offer a wide food offering and have regular events such as a monthly comedy night and other events. However it was the craft beer tasting that piqued my interest. The team at the Central are loyal to local producers and use them as much as possible.

Having met Paddy and Daire of Bru Brewery recently at the ICBCF in the RDS Dublin and subsequently got to know the lads a bit better and thoroughly enjoying their beers, particularly the Rua. I was going down to see how they’d got on since their successful launch in the RDS, where up with Amber Ella the Rua was one of the most talked about Beers of the Festival. Also in attendance was John from Premier Beers, who was going through the tasting on a range of the bottled craft on offer in the Central.

€10 was the cost per head, but this included samples of the three Bru Brewery beers, and samples of the range from premier which included Thwaites, Donegal Blonde, and Moorhouses beers. More on those later. 

But debuting on the night was the Bru Lager, which poured in my opinion a lovely amber colour very similar to Brooklyn lager, however from talking to Paddy the next batch will more than likely be lighter on the colour scale as customers were double checking they’d ordered a lager. The flavour was very nice, and very quaffable, ABV of 4.2%. We were sat with a few total novices, and I must say the feedback I could hear on the three beers was all very positive. I know Paddy & Daire have had a couple of teething issues, but this is to be expected. The quality of the product stands up to scrutiny well. If the lads continue on this vain i’m sure it won’t be long before more local publicans will be looking to get on board.

John talked us through the offerings from Premier. Premier are renowned for importing all sorts from world wide, but they have started to do Donegal Blonde and I believer its flying out. Personally its a middle of the road for me, but I’d say it does well as its not too powerful one direction or the other. The stuff from Thwaites, from Yorkshire UK was good. The very successful Wainwright was very quaffable, but the IPA was a bit of a let down. Biggest surprise of the night for me was the Black Cat from Moorhouses, a sub 4% dark ruby ale, it comes in at 3.4% but was full of flavour, coffee notes. 

There was a good crowd in sampling on the night and the little sausage sliders with charcuterie and cheese were lovely – hopefully the lads continue to push Bru as its only made down the road, literally, only 8 miles away. I’ll introduce myself to the lads there formally when they are less busy. Also in my Beoir capacity i’ve to give them their “Irish Craft Beer on Sale Here” sticker.

This is part 1 of my review of the week gone by. I’ll be putting up more later about what else i got up to

Upcoming Plans

Sorry i’ve not posted in a little while been all quiet on the western front but there are a few things coming up over the next few weeks which i’ll be looking forward to sharing with you as soon as I can.

Not much in the way of beers etc being tried, but have been thinking about Christmas and what to do then. So any ideas from anyone out there have any suggestions for Christmas ales. One being given serious consideration at the moment is a nice chocolate stout float as part of the Christmas dinner. 

So had a work lunch in Red Torch Ginger today – 2 course lunch including home made lemonade, iced tea, or water for €14.95 those who’ve read my previous reviews will know that I rate the food very highly. I went for the combo starter which was a spring roll, wanton, chicken satay and marvelous rib. For main course went with a delish Duck with Basil and Chilli stir fry with egg noodles. Also great to see that they are offering a range of craft beers. Some great beers on the list. Look forward to getting back and sampling with a meal next time guys.

Coming up, we’ve a wedding in the Shelbourne, a trip to Limerick, and i’m really looking forward to that, really looking forward to checking out the craft beer scene in Limerick.

Payday this weekend and expect a haul from Drinkstore or Sweeneys perhaps. However with my Beoir membership now getting me 10% off Irish Craft Beer at Drinkstore, thats looking like a winner.

Also hoping to check out the Honest to Goodness Market on Saturday Morning.

So i’ve not been in hibernation, just planning! 

The Irish Craft Beer & Cider Festival 2013 – Thoughts Pt 1

Its back, bigger and better than before. And this time its personal! Sorry I was getting a little carried away there. The 2013 Irish Craft Beer & Cider Festival has come to a close today. Its a little early to know what the final numbers and impressions were, I can only convey my own thoughts. 

It was my first visit, in each of the last couple of years i’ve not been around for one reason or another. This year was the biggest incarnation yet, reflecting the exceptional levels of growth seen in the Craft Beer & Cider industry in Ireland over the last 18 to 24 months.

So here’s the vital statistics. Over 100 different beers and ciders from and over 20 breweries represented this year this was undoubtedly the biggest event yet. Among the brewers there were some new additions who were to be welcomed. The distilling world were also represented by Dingle Distillery and Teelings.

As a fully fledged member of beoir I was able to see this event from behind the ropes so to speak as I was volunteering for 2 of the days. The thursday evening and Saturday. But there was plenty of time to wander around and take everything in.

In the industry’s hall at the RDS you have ample space for the brewers, and plenty of room to lounge around. A convenient location serviced well by public transport.
Now onto the beers, sadly i didn’t get many pictures, but there were some sensational beers on offer this weekend. A lot of festival specials. There were the usual brews, and collaborations. You had O’Haras and JW Sweetman with Belgian Connection, Trouble Brewing & Galway Hooker with Troubled Hooker. Fantastic choices available and it would be nearly impossible to try all of them. So which ones stood out for me. 

In no order of preference, The Kinsale Pale Ale through the randal was a truly unique way to enjoy and already well hopped pale ale, I sampled it with the Citra hops, and to be honest it was very nice. But, I just preferred the overall balance of the regular. Sam is a really friendly guy and it was great to be able to chat to him about his brewery which he is opening shortly in Kinsale. It’s also great to be involved with the Beoir fundraising where some time in the new year Sam is going to host up to 40 people for a special batch brew. At the time of writing his indiegogo funding stands at €4455 (Kinsale Craft Brewery Indiegogo Page) with 7 days left – if you can spare a fiver – give it a go. 

The lads from 8 Degrees, also had a new one for us, Amberella, and american style amber beer. This is coming to us soon – but it was great to get a sample of this at the festival. Yet again the guys have delivered a lovely beer – very quaffable with great flavours. Fresh on the back of the Hopoff between Cyclone and Hurricane the guys are on a roll. Clearly they are not resting on their laurels and continue to innovate and bring us more to their already very solid range.

Looking locally, being from Meath it was great to meet the lads behind Bru Brewery(@brubrewery), having launched last week at the Fairways in Dundalk, and being tapped in a local pub in Navan (@Thecentralnavan) on the Wednesday evening before the festival began. Bringing with them to the festival they had Rua (Red Ale) a Stout, and two lagers, Lager X and Lager Y. I must say the Rua was fantastic, nitroed head so very creamy, but full of flavour. The stout was also very good. Being very aware of their target market in local pubs in Meath initially, they had two lagers. In my opinion Lager X was better, and if that and the stout and red ale were tapped in my local, i’d drink my weight in them. The reaction to them was great, always a lot of people around, and I must say the branding is particularly impressive. I wasn’t the only one who commented on that. The initial reaction in The Central has obviously been impressive as the keg sold out within 24 hours. Well done lads.

I realise this is quite a long blog post – so i’m gonna leave it there for now and post further thoughts over the next day or two.

Blacks of Kinsale – Indiegogo Campaign – Update

We’ve seen crowdsourcing before haven’t we. Well in these austere times they are becoming more common due to lack of available finance from traditional avenues.

It is common sense. Try to attain your funding from your ultimate end consumer, or people who have a vast interest in what you are trying to do.

With this in mind, i’m thinking of Blacks of Kinsale ( / @kinsalebrewery) founded by Sam & Maudeline Black. Currently producing Kinsale Pale Ale, which is being contract brewed by 8 Degrees in Cork.

So to get to the next step they have gone out to seek finance through indiegogo ( and at the time of writing they have €1525 obtained. 

Now for the uplifting bit, the thing about the Craft Beer scene in Ireland is that sense of community, people aiming for a common goal, whether its members of Beoir, or home brew enthusiasts of the National Home Brew Club, people want more choice, but more importantly are willing to put their money where their mouth is. 

First up, the National Home Brew Club and its members on its forum have clubbed together with enough to name a fermentor. For a small donation each member has helped with one of the goals of Blacks. Beoir’s members have also stepped in, and clubbed together to raise enough to brew a batch at the brewery. For avid beer enthusiasts the opportunity to spend a day in a brewery with people who know what they’re doing and having a custom batch made, and enjoy the company of fellow beer lovers. Sam and Maudeline will undoubtedly look after everyone handsomely. Hopefully the 20 Beoir members are easily handled! 

What has been extremely heartening is the actual pace at which both of these clubs got it together. Beoir was done within days, and at this time taking names for a potential second wave. 

I look forward to my day in Kinsale, a fishing town myself and Mrs Irishbeersnob have been to many times, but this time being there to make a brew! I am also extremely proud to be able to help another brewery get up and running, and of my fellow donors. 

So for as little as a fiver you too can help, and have your name etched on the wall in the brewery. It also gives you an excuse (not that you should need one) to visit the best Seafood town in Ireland.

Sam & Maudeline with a pint – pretty sure thats in the Folk House in Kinsale – Top Pub in Kinsale in my opinion