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