Homemade GrapeFruit Radler

Homemade GrapeFruit Radler

Ever since I tried it at a recent beer event I’ve been obsessed by the humble radler. What is it you ask? A radler, is a low alcohol beverage made 50/50 of lager or pilsner and sparkling lemonade. After a quick google search i found it dates back to 1912 and originates from Germany. However, as the story goes it was created by an Inn Keeper in 1922, Franz Xaver Kugler, who realised he didn’t have enough beer to serve to his regulars who were cyclists. He mixed his remaining beer stock with fresh citrus lemonade and they loved it. Probably for the same reason I do, its thirst quenching ability.

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This type of drink is more commonly known here in Ireland as a Shandy. Growing up I remember my Father drinking this. To this day my Father in law would be a fan of it. Our version would be half a pint of Heineken or Carlsberg mixed with 7up.

The beer event I mentioned was an introduction to an Austrian Brewery, Stiegl , that are being imported by O’ Haras. You can read more about that here thanks to SimonSaysBeer. I fell in love with their grapefruit radler. It was so full of flavour and so easy to drink at 2% abv. I’ve been hoping we’d see more of this by now.

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More recently, on a shopping trip to Lidl I noticed they sell Perlenbacher in cans and bottles. We purchased a few to see what it would be like. We were pleasantly surprised. It was light and refreshing with a zingy lemon punch to it. My Sister happened to visit and I gave her some to try and she enjoyed it too. Since then I’ve been hunting down a grapefruit one. It wasn’t until Wayne mentioned it, that i made my own! He found this recipe and off I went.

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I had all the ingredients already so I was set. The first step was to make the fresh grapefruit soda:

  • Juice one whole grapefruit (room temperature) pour into a seal-able container and refrigerate.

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  • Cut up juiced rind into chunks, place in a large plastic mixing bowl, add sugar and cover tightly with clingfilm.
  • Let this stand at room temperature stirring every 45 minutes until sugar is dissolved. I’d plenty of time so i did this over 4 hours. You can leave it up to 12 if you prefer. I didn’t start it early enough for that.

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  • Measure reserved grapefruit juice, and juice remaining grapefruits to get 300 ml
  • Add to sugar mixture with lemon juice and mix well
  • Strain through a fine mesh strainer or piece of muslin cloth into a glass container. this can be stored for up to a week.

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I of course didn’t wait that long and used it immediately. It was a hot sunny Sunday after all and we were thirsty. So to make the radler:

  • When ready to serve, add soda water to the fresh grapefruit syrup. Adjust to taste. I made mine quite tart.
  • For each radler add your chosen beer to a glass and mix with the grapefruit soda. I served mine in a pint glass.

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It was great fun experimenting with this recipe. I had two different styles to work with. The first was Cotton Ball Brewing Mayfield 5 lager. This working incredibly well. The lager is really refreshing and crisp and carried the grapefruit syrup really well. The oohs and the gasps from Wayne confirmed it was indeed a success. The second was a bottle of Stiegl wheat beer. This was still nice but lacked the refreshing thirst quenching character of the lager. Have a go yourself and see what you come up with.

 

 

 

#Hagstravaganza – White Hag Brewery’s 3rd Birthday Celebration

#Hagstravaganza – White Hag Brewery’s 3rd Birthday Celebration

Well, now that the dust has settled, and the body is mended after what was simply a great event up in Ballymote this past weekend to celebrate White Hag’s Third Birthday.

The format was simple, get breweries and beers pouring that the Irish beer drinking public wouldn’t be previously exposed to on our native shores, and get 1000 of those beer lovers to descent on sleepy Ballymote on a Saturday in July. So in numbers, 22 breweries, 60 beers, and 1000 people. They’re pretty nice numbers to look at aren’t they?

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Guest brewers from around the world, who White Hag have met on their travels while increasing their export sales, quickly showing that not only were they off showing how far the Irish beer scene has come, but making connections that make events like this possible.

Janice and I were guests of White Hag on the day, and sadly we couldn’t make the barrel tasting as we drove up from Navan on the day. By all accounts that was a very informative session with Joe and Alex.

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Despite a snaffu with the chillers, meaning only three beers were pouring at the start time, it gave me the chance to try the MacIvors / White Hag collab which had been aged in a barrel. Really impressed and gave a lovely zing on the palate.

There were so many great beers on display, and it was particularly great to get to taste some from White Frontier, who many people will know Chris Treanor (ex Galway Bay) is their head brewer. It would be impossible to name all the ones that were drank, however, i can say it wasn’t close to 60! I really enjoyed the variety of styles on display, it wasn’t all just IPAs and super hoppy stuff. Stand outs for me were the two brett beers by Irish brewers. Kinnegar’s Phunk Bucket Brett Pale Ale, and White Hag’s Olcan Barrel Aged Brett IPA were both really well made beers, and very different.

It was great to bump into Rick from Kinnegar, and i’ve long been saying I need to get up and visit K2, Rick politely reminded me, that every time I see him I say I must pop up, so we’ve a gentlemans bet that if I don’t make it up before the end of the year, I will make a charity donation to a charity of Rick’s choice. So I guess i better get planning.

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Obviously White Hag have learned some tricks attending other festivals around Europe, where they’ve implemented a sensible pricing structure for tokens and measures of alcohol. Tokens were €2.50. Giving a glass glass, also gets a big thumbs up from me. This isn’t the first festival on the island to do this, that falls to ABV Fest. But it’s nice to see a change from the usual, buy tokens, Q at a brewers stand, drink, rinse repeat.

There was ample pourers working behind the bar, and I don’t recall ever having to wait too long to be served. Another huge positive was a proper rinse station, that had brushes to clean, then rinsers too. Meaning your glass was sparkling clean after washing and ready for the next beer.

There was also great entertainment in live music put on, which was just right for the mood of the event, if it got too much you could go outside. But even then, the music came out too sometimes!

It’s fair to say this was a significant step up from last years edition, but there were one or two issues the lads themselves would hold up their hands and say “It’s a fair cop guv!”

  • Lack of free drinking water – I understand that this was planned originally but unfortunately wasn’t implemented, you’d to buy from one of the food stalls
  • Given the pre fest announcement that card payments were preferred, it was surprising to see only one card machine on the day itself.
  • Lack of toilets, the Queues were quite bad at times, perhaps a urinal circle could be added like concerts it would help alleviate the crush, and save the poor bushes.
  • Pour sizes, while it was great value, I do wish that the bigger beers 8% + were served in 1/3rd measures as opposed to 250ml, if you’re a taster who wants to get through as many as you can, this might cause you some problems. It wasn’t too big an issue for me, as I only finished with a couple of strong ones.
  • Seats outside, while there were plenty of seats there could have been a few more,but most made do sitting on the concrete in the sun

However the whole experience was a really positive experience, with the great and the good of the Irish Craft Beer community being there, and it really highlights the potential there is from a beer tourism point of view. The atmosphere was great, and everyone I encountered was in great form. It was also great to see the mix of demographics, that it wasn’t just as much as I hate the term, Bearded Hipsters there in their droves. This really was an event for everyone. It was great to share beers with so many folk that we’ve gotten to know online, and to meet people behind the pseudonyms! A big cheers to Paul who was being a beer fairy giving people a taste of Alechemist Heady Topper! Bravo sir! How could I forget those amazing Black Boar truffles by Kate O’D! DELISH!

The added bonus of a train back into Sligo was a great touch, and it’s safe to say The Swagman was bouncing with punters and brewers alike, until the small hours.

Well done to all of the team in White Hag for putting on a great event, and of course all the brewers who sent beer to the festival, we’re really looking forward to the 2018 edition.

Sláinte

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MCBF 2017

MCBF 2017

The second weekend of July saw the return of The Midlands Craft Beer Festival. Now in its third year, held in the beer garden of Don’s Bar in Moate and organized by Simon of Simon Says Beer fame. This year they had a sponsor in Specsavers of Athlone, who provided coupons for a free eye test. Entry in was only five euro and beer tokens were €2.50 each which were also used for food.

It kicked off at 3pm and being the eager beavers we are, we were practically first paying customers in. Straight away I noticed they’d done a lot of work improving what was already a great beer garden. Plenty of comfy chairs, tables and picnic benches surrounded the stage and the marquees which hosted the breweries.

First beer of the day was a can of Whiplash Beer saturate shared between us with me having the more generous serving as poor Wayne was designated driver as usual. I think by now we all know our love of this beer, so no words are really necessary! You may be thinking that’s a strong start, but there was a slight issue with electricity which led to the coolers not being on so the beer pouring was warm. That was sorted out pretty swiftly by Dave from Trouble Brewing.

Next to the lads of Whiplash was Olan from Dan Kellys Cider. He had all three variations of their cider in bottle form. Wayne sipped their single variety while I enjoyed their original version.  While drinking this beautiful cold liquid we enjoyed a chat and plenty of laughs with Olan, Alex and Alan.

We skipped on over to the other side which housed St. Mels, Rascals and newcomers Dead Centre Brewing. Rascals were pouring Yankee, their white IPA and their strawberry vanilla shake. We chose the later, I was feeling a bit iffy about it as I never really enjoyed it before. But after tasting it again for about the fourth time I was pleasantly surprised by it. Whatever you guys did to improve the recipe really worked.

Trouble Brewing were pouring their India Pale Lager called Remix but it was their American Amber, Stagediver I went for. It’s been a while since I had a beer from these guys and this beer didn’t disappoint. Just made me want to revisit beers from them again. Dying for a bit of sabotage!

Time for food! The offerings were pizza, cheese burger or a pulled pork bap. Wayne devoured the cheeseburger while I salivated over the pulled pork. Both were extremely tasty. The BBQ sauce on the pork was absolutely gorgeous and the chef wouldn’t share his secret no matter how much I asked. They were super friendly guys and we had great craic talking to them.  I will admit, the pizzas did look good too.

At this stage I grabbed a pouring of whiplash body riddle pale ale and sat down to enjoy the music and chat to some friends. There was a great atmosphere created by the musicians that were playing, but also the people in attendance. It was great to catch up with so many beer folk we know. We shared many a laugh and enjoyed some great chats!


Next up I sauntered over to Liam from Dead Centre Brewing as I noticed a crowd gathering around him. He was pouring for the very first time and the beer was absolutely beautiful. His oatmeal pale ale called That Magnificent Beast! A very fitting name and needless to say it went down a treat and didn’t last very long. This is one to look out for guys! Definitely a highlight of the day for me.


Another new beer pouring at the festival was from St Mels. Their black IPA is called A New Dawn so I went for a glass. It was very tasty indeed! They were also pouring their pale ale which is also a great beer.

Another highlight for me was pulling a few beers for whiplash, while the lads had a bit of craic themselves. Got to have lots of fun with people and have a few samples myself. Plus the Mc Gargles lil bangin was on top form too!


All in all, it was a great event. Congrats to everyone involved. If you didn’t get to make it, I’d suggest putting it in your calendar for next year! I’ll be booking a b&b for next time!

Killarney Beerfest 2017

Killarney Beerfest 2017

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.

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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

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Manor Brewing’s Stand

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.

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Until 2018 Killarney, you’ve been great!

 

O’Briens Naas Craft Beer Fair

O’Briens Naas Craft Beer Fair

It was a cold wet Saturday afternoon in May, a Summer month, but we experienced all four seasons in this one day. After Wayne arrived home from his round of golf, we took off for the afternoon. We decided to go visit O’Briens in Naas as they were hosting their annual craft beer fair. This particular branch is known for its support and range of craft beer, especially with our fellow beer enthusiasts, so we thought it’d be a great opportunity to check it out.

When we arrived there was a great buzz in the store, each table adorned with beer bottles and cans ready to be tasted while manned by the brewers ready to share their story. So up first for us was Dot Brewery from Dublin. It was an absolute pleasure for me to finally meet Shane. We’ve been massive fans of his beers since the beginning of his journey. He had samples of his core range, the new saison and something new. Of course I had to opt for the latter, turns out it was a barrel aged white peach and rum amber. It was absolutely beautiful. Can’t wait for more of that! Sharing a table with Shane, was Whitehag From Sligo. I sampled their american amber ale while Wayne had a sip of their black boar. Both very enjoyable. Check out their website for information on their impending third birthday celebrations. Promises to be a great night.

Over to Cam from Eight Degrees ,based in Cork, to taste their latest releases. Their core range was available to taste, but it was all about new beer for me. Retribution, a limited edition black rye IPA in collaboration with Terrapin Beer Co.was first. This was a gorgeous beer, plenty of sweet fruit aromas with a well balanced fruity flavour turning into a lasting dry pepper finish. If you see it, pick it up. Lemon Drop single hop IPA is their latest beer. Its very refreshing with hints of green tea with a smack of lemon bitterness. Cam was seriously generous with his time and we really enjoyed talking the ear off him.
I spotted Paddy owner/brewer of 12 Acres Brewing from Laois cradling a bottle of their rye IPA and I sauntered over to grab a taste. It has taken the spot of their pale ale as my favourite. Wayne enjoyed sampling the lager. After a brief chat its exciting to hear new beers are in the planning from these guys. Just watch this space.

Michael from Manor Brewing in Wicklow was on hand proudly showing two very interesting looking mini kegs and their newly packaged Mont Pilsner. This was a surprise, a beer that has improved greatly since its first release. This pilsner is now so refreshing and crisp that I would’ve happily drank a pint. In the mini kegs were two new beers we just had to sample. The first was Black is the new orange, an orange infused black lager which was really good. The other was Tall Poppy Syndrome, a belgian ale. Both of these are festival specials and will be available at the upcoming Killarney Beer Fest.

 Making our way to the next table, in the corner of my eye I saw new beer from Brehon Brewhouse. It was their pale ale suitably called Fiesta. It was so easy to drink, I think this is going to be a hit. A great citrus aroma with a lovely light mouth feel to it ending in a subtle bitter aftertaste. It makes you dive back in for more. The beer wasn’t available to purchase yet, but we were kindly given a couple of bottles to bring home. Also on offer was their core range. Next to them sharing a table was Wicklow Brewery. I enjoyed a chat with Colm while tasting their weisse beer. They also offered the Hopknut pale ale, which Wayne enjoyed. This was the first time he tried the can version.

We had the pleasure of chatting to Stephen & Gabriel from Treaty City Brewing based in Co Limerick next. Here they were offering samples of their four beers. Two we’ve tried and tested before, but were underwhelmed by a bad bottle at the time. It’s a delight to tell you their IPA and Pale Ale have come on leaps and bounds since they were first released. Their new beers are a lager and a red ale. For me personally the red ale was a little bit sweet and thin but the lager was refreshing and crisp. It really was great fun chatting with these guys. I see more of the IPA in my future.

Brian from Lagunitas happily poured some cappuccino stout into a glass for me. I really enjoyed the smoothness of this beer. Wayne enjoyed a mouthful of brown shugga, i found this a little sweet. We got cans of the new beer, 12th of never, to bring home and try. Cheers to Brian for those. There were a couple of other beers on offer that we had before, Wilco Tango Foxtrot, the ipa and lil sumpin’. Sharing a table with him was Rick from Kinnegar based in Co Donegal with a great selection of bottled beers. We sampled Great Arch, a kölsch style Summery dry-hopped hybrid and Bucket & Spade, their session Rye IPA. They were the only two out of the selection we hadn’t tried before.

We stopped off at Hope Beer from Co Dublin next. I was dying to try their new summer session beer and boy it didn’t disappoint. Possibly the beer of the afternoon for me.I also had a sip of the oatmeal IPA which was a hit back at the Alltech festival. It was great chatting to the guys and cheers for the awesome bottle opener. Next to them sharing a stand were the guys from Killarney Brewing pouring their new Saison that Wayne was raving about, I enjoyed a sample of their IPA, scarlett pimpernel more. The guys were having serious banter with customers and it really added to the atmosphere.
Before heading home and after tasting all the beautiful beers, I spotted some gin! One I both hadn’t heard of or tried. Bonac 24 gin was beautiful and one I’ll happily add to my growing collection of good gin.

All in all it was a super fun afternoon. A really well put together event by the guys from O’Briens. It was great craic engaging with the brewers while sampling the beers. We even bumped into some friends and fellow beer enthusiasts. Check out The Beer Hopster for his thoughts and Craft Beers of Ireland on facebook for his. Roll on next years event.

Cheers

Janice

Beer Cocktails

Beer Cocktails

The seed was planted  a couple of years ago, at my very first visit to the Brewdog AGM, to experiment with beer as a mixer in cocktail making. This came about when I was looking for something different. You know when you’ve just had enough beer and you’re looking for an alternative, be it whiskey, a cocktail or whatever your preferred drink may be? Well that is how I stumbled upon my first experiment.

I know there are quite a few bars and restaurants that have perfected some amazing beer cocktails, but back then it was a revelation to me. At the AGM, held in the arena in Aberdeen, it was very much set up as a festival. Quite like your typical concert here in Ireland, the stage area with bars set up around the perimeters. I had reached my beer limit and had my epiphany when I remembered I was carrying a bottle of Irn Bru in my bag. I sought out a half pint of Dead Pony Club and mixed it with the Irn Bru. Much to my delight it was gorgeous. Wayne was pleasantly surprised too.

This all stemmed from when we attended the ABVFest in 2015. It was my first professionally made beer cocktail perfected by Gary. This was when we first met @TheGazzz who we were both following on twitter. He developed the beer cocktails that were available at the festival. Not only that but he also developed the beer cocktails for Brewbot in Belfast too. So if you’re attending the festival this year, go check out his cocktail creations, you won’t be disappointed.

Locally however, trying to find a bar that has a decent beer selection is like hens teeth. We live in a big enough town with a main street that houses plenty of bars. However a handful of pubs have a small craft beer bottle range with them having one tap for micro brewed beer. There is only one dedicated craft beer pub, Brú House Navan, so you can imagine the difficulty trying to get a proper beer cocktail.
This brings me to what was a regular Friday night at home with Wayne enjoying a couple of beers, I sent a simple tweet:

That’s when we decided to take Thomas up on his suggestion of mixing beer and gin. Being the curious cats we are, and as we were already drinking it, I said how about using whitehags lemon sour Púca. So off to the drinks cabinet Wayne went and after a few minutes he comes back with his creation. He used Boyles Gin mixed with the lemon púca and garnished with slices of lemon. The resulting taste resembled lemoncello. It went down very well. Boyles gin is a small batch distilled specifically for Aldi Ireland. We picked up a couple of bottles for €24.99 each.


Next was my turn to come up with something. I used Glendalough wild spring botanical gin, the 2016 version. This is a seasonal gin using locally foraged ingredients to produce a very limited batch. We were lucky enough to pick up a bottle from The Winehouse in Trim.

Being a big fan of Waynes cocktail, I decided to stay with Púca, only the berry hibiscous and ginger version. I prefer this to the original dry hopped lemon flavour. It is just as face scrunchingly tart but a little sweeter which I enjoy more. I chose mint as my garnish and it was beautiful.

While we were on a recent visit to Simon Lambert & Sons in Wexford, for a day with Yellowbelly, we enjoyed some seriously tasty beer cocktails. These were created by Danny using beers by Boundary Brewing. Wayne enjoyed “King Bong”, a citrus infused gin, white lemonade, fresh orange which was topped up with Boundarys Imbongo Tropical IPA. It was really good. However mine was “Dirty Filthy Animal” Dingle Vodka, Espresso Coffee, Tia Maria, Sugar blended with Boundarys “Filthy Animal” chilli porter. It was absolutely amazing.

Photo courtesy of @yellowbelly

Thanks again to the power of twitter, I’ve discovered a few places that serve beer cocktails in Dublin. Idlewild Bar in Dublin have a Magic Rock porter martini and an ipa margarita on the way with a new beer cocktail menu. The Hill Pub in Ranelagh have created a gin and grapefruit based cocktail topped off with Brewdogs Elvis Juice. Brickyard Gastro pub have also tried and tested a few cocktails and are also creating their Hoptail menu. I’m quite happy to know there are a few places serving them. It’s a start at the very least.