And now the conclusion – EBBC Day 2 – Thoughts

So this is following on from my previous posts re the European Beer Bloggers Conference, this one will cover the final day.

Day 2 was an early start, 10am was the first event. Dean McGuinness of Premier Beers was giving the talk and the state of the Irish Craft Beer sector. Knowing this was going to be a long day pre conference grub and fuel was provided by Ugly Duckling – Cheers Darragh for the awesome full irish! Just what was needed.

Dean talked us through his 10 Commandments and they made a lot of sense, but the Honesty one was the one that resonated. Just tell people whats in their beer. 

It was a bit odd that when the subject being discussed was the Irish Beer Scene that we were sampling a couple of UK Beers, and a German Bock. I know this caused conversation to the side. Personally though it reflects the small amount of Dean’s portfolio that is actually Irish. Most of it is foreign. The beers themselves were tasty, even if we did peer pressure Simon into joining us at that time.

Next up was the meat and potatoes, Supercharging you’re Blog. This was the main reason I came. As a new blogger I wanted to learn some tips to improve my blog, and ultimately increase readership. Cindy from Zephyr tours gave the talk and it was fascinating to learn about the different things. A lot of these I will be implementing over the coming months.

So it was break time, and once again Pilsner Urquell provided the generous hospitality of lunch, we had the awesome Church staff cook up a great barbecue with more unfiltered Pilsner. I got to tap the keg myself, and so did Rossa. The quality checking was very important!

Quality check of the pour with Vaclav Berka

The generosity didn’t stop there, they had packs of can’s for us to take with us too. I was lucky enough that the marketing people let me take home an extra pack for a twitter raffle with a branded Pilsner Urquell glass. My only regret, I didn’t get a glass for myself! 

// lunch we then had the guys from WordPress talking about their blog platform. I must say I was really impressed with the tips they also gave and they were extremely helpful, a migration to wordpress could be on the cards later in the year. We also had a fascinating chat with Tomasz from Poland who has frankly insane numbers of views for youtube. His main hint – don’t edit your videos, just get them up! Once these were done and dusted we had a beer reception from Beer Ireland showcasing yet again the great craft brews in this country. The Hurler by Four Provinces was the perfect beer for the clammy conditions in the Church. 

Approaching the end of the events was a dinner sponsored by Franciscan Well, allowing our host venue to highlight again the quality of their food, with Irish produced matched to the Fran Well beers. My favourite beer of the night was the Jameson Barrel aged Stout, simply amazing. But the highlight was Shane Long’s talk, Shane is the Head Brewer and it was great to hear his passionate speech where he covered the move from independent brewer to being in the Molson Coors family. Shane is a massive influence in the Irish market and provides advice, help, and his time to brewers all over the country. I for one hope they heed his plea to break from the norm of pale ale, red, and stout. But the night wasn’t over yet. We had a final event of entertainment and beers from O’Haras. We got to try all of their core beers, but we also got to suggest a beer for them to make. I suggested a Gooseberry sour, but wouldn’t be hopeful it will be picked.

All in all this was a fantastic weekend, and I am grateful to the sponsors for stepping in to make sure this went ahead. A big thank you to Zephyr for organising this, and I can’t wait to see where it is in 2015.

European Beer Bloggers Conference – Day One

Now in it’s fourth year the European Beer Bloggers Conference came to Dublin last weekend for the first time. Following on from a successful event last year in Edinburgh, Dublin had big shoes to follow.

Dublin is undergoing a craft beer revolution at the moment and it was going to be interesting to see what foreign visitors from the UK, Europe and the USA thought of it.

The Thursday evening pub crawl was arranged by Reuben Gray who had a major part in getting the conference to Dublin this year, and this highlighted the best craft beer bars Dublin has to offer. Ian (11pm Somewhere Podcast) and I arranged to meet early to film a pre conference hangout, the videos are below. We were joined by Carol Dekkers from Tampa Florida, Eric & Flo of Brewsweplate and Brian of Irish Craft Beer Show. 

So along comes Friday and conference proper. The advice was to eat before we arrived as there was a trade show displaying the best of Irish brewing before events kicked off at 2pm. I could think of no better place than the Ugly Duckling Cafe in the Epicurean Food Hall. I went with the McWurly, which is a battered beef burger in a bun with cheese and salad. Accompanied with a side of chips. This set me up for the day. 

From here we made our way to the Church Bar, which used to be a Church funnily enough given the name. Arthur Guinness even got married there. Where we registered and made our way through the samples. It was great to see some of the newer brewers there especially Black Donkey Brewing who really came with a great farmhouse ale called “Sheep Stealer” (Review to follow) There were some other great beers including the Honey IPA by Sharps, the Big Brown Bear by Trouble Brewing and N17’s famous Rye Ale. 

The events kicked off with a history of brewing in Ireland which was fascinating to learn that it goes back thousands of years. Though it would explain a lot. Which lead onto a great discussion on the merits of Cask vs Keg, and Can vs Bottle. I expected this to get a bit heated, however it was a well delivered presentation which I think covered all the pros and cons in a balanced way but ultimately there are some styles that aren’t suited to certain packaging. There then the last talk for the afternoon which had a panel discussion with Sarah of N17, Cathal of Rascals, and Paul from Trouble Brewing. A wide range discussed, including the topical pricing issues. I think Sarah summed it up best when she said as a brewer she wants to “keep it in the hands of the people!”

From here we had a break before the big festivities of the evening, Dinner in St James’ Gate hosted by Guinness, and the legendary Pilsner Urquell party. Taking the opportunity a few of us recently acquainted bloggers went to the Norseman to try the Kinsale Pale Ale which was pouring through a Randall. We caught up with the group as they continued along Fishamble St on the Way to St James’ Gate. 

I’m going to leave this post here, as I feel the Guinness event and Pilsner Urquell event really deserve a lot more detail. 

All in all, Day 1 was a fun day. Met some really interesting people, Sarah, Sean, Richard and Carol. The craic was mighty all day. We had some fantastic drinks. And it meant the second day was also going to be great. 

Founders – Porter – The Ratebeer Centurion

Founders have certainly been making an impact since they’ve arrived on our shores. I’ve already sampled the All Day Session IPA – link is on the right hand side.

I was eating out with a friend in Dublin recently, and it finished a little earlier than expected. So I decided to pop into my friends in Ugly Duckling Cafe to say hi, and also wait for Mrs Irishbeersnob who was on the late shift at work. Chinwagging as people who know me is my speciality and Derek and Darragh were really keen to tell me about their new beer additions, Founders. I asked for the porter as i’d not had this yet.

Firstly, I had had a few drinks already so I wasn’t really paying much attention in terms of notes etc, but I was blown away by it. Served at room temperature this was sensational. However I said to myself i’ll have to pick this up and try it again.  

So I was also more than pleased to see this in Trim Winehouse on my recent visit there, but have noticed it in O’Briens Navan. The Winehouse in Trim were selling this for €2.69 a bottle. I think they’ve also a special on with 6 for €15.00

This beauty pours dark. A lovely sweet aroma from the hops but notes of chocolate are there. You can also get a lovely hint of coffee. This has skyrocketed up the list to top of the pile as far as bottled porters go for me. Its also very easy to see how this has an average score on Ratebeer of 100.

At 6.5% its not a wimp, but this is perfect to sup on during these dark winter evenings. 

The week that was featuring Ugly Duckling Dublin and Bison Bar

Something i’ve always thought, the days that are totally unplanned, are usually by and large the best days. I hope i’m not the only person to think this.

It was a long week, but a work mate of mine and I decided to call into the lads @Uglyducklingdub Cafe in the Epicurean Food Hall on Abbey St for lunch on Thursday – now we’d both been fortunate enough to win a free lunch from the lads. Day before pay day it was only natural to use this up.

Darragh, Derek and John are the team behind it, a lot of you would know Darragh from his days up running against the grain. 

For those that don’t know the Epicurean Food Hall, its one of those gems in the city where you can choose from many national cuisines, even Leo Burdocks, and eat in a communal environment. Its great. And the Ugly Duckling is the latest addition to this culinary mecca. They’ve only just celebrated their four week anniversary.

Now, the first thing that I see on the menu, is its good food done well. Having gotten to know one another we decided what we wanted, me being a stickler for wings went for the wings and chips, which would have cost me €7.95, and Andy went for the Homemade Beef Burger. While chatting away Derek said he was going to give us a taster of a few things. 

First up, Roasted Tomato Soup, it was served in a cappuccino cup with a sprinkling of cheese, and slice of granary bread. The flavours were really vibrant and the cheese topped it off nicely. A nice sampler to get the juices flowing. But they weren’t stopped there. Next up was a half a hot meal roll each, this with turkey breast, honey glazed bacon, cranberry relish and salad, but the crowning piece for me was the addition of gravy to the roll. Good lord. Fantastic. At only €6.45 this item represents to me fantastic value. The meat changes on a daily basis also.

From Top Left: Hot Meat Roll, Wings, Wings and Burgers, and Soup – Credit to Andy @Bakingbatchelor for the photo.

Then our food came. My wings were refreshingly not made with the Franks Hot Sauce style sauce, but a sweet chilli sauce based one, the wings were lovely and crispy, and smothered in a vibrant sauce, woken up by the addition of fresh coriander, with nice chunky chips and a dip. Andy’s homemade burgers looked great too. Just like Mammy used to make, two nice patty’s smothered in gravy with mushrooms and onion. The lads promised we’d leave full, I couldn’t finish my portion of wings but Derek gladly wrapped em up for me to go and that was Mrs IBS’ supper sorted. The guys are offering some really nice food for a really keen price. Definitely check them out.

I was texting a buddy of mine who mentioned that he was up in Dublin for the day on Saturday and would we be round for a scoop and catch up. Looked at the calendar and said sure why not. Having grabbed a delicious Two Spots Coffee we met up in the Grand Central Pub on O’Connell St, no point asking for craft beer here, they’d give you a Caledonian Smooth and you’d be lucky. Usually I revert to Guinness in these places and it didn’t disappoint.

Soon bellies started to rumble, and decided to use the opportunity to grab some food at Bison Bar (Wellington Quay next to the clarence, next to the Millenium Walkway). Our group was all confirmed carnivores so what better place to go. A bit of a walk down the quays avoiding the pondlife that plagues our streets at times, we got there. Instantly as you walk in the waft of charcoal smoke mixed with cooking meat hits you. We grabbed some menus and had a look. 

They have a lunch special which runs from 12-5pm for 7.95 (5 quid if you take away) you get a Brisket or Pull Pork Sandwich with one side. I opted for Brisket, and Mrs IBS for the Pork. The lads then went for chicken, ribs, and brisket as mains with 2 sides for 13.95. There is a sampler option available for 14.95 also. You order at the bar and sit down.

Loads of crazy americana on the walls, kind of reminded me of Uncle Moes in the simpsons but in a good way, but most importantly the food was of fantastic quality. Washed down with a pint and a whiskey sour I can’t believe I waited so long to visit. Make no mistake this is genuine Texas BBQ – mouthwatering Texas BBQ, oh and I would swim in the Mustard BBQ Sauce!

My only quibble was the poor selection of craft beers, they had some Williams Brothers from Scotland, but lads would it be too much to ask for one or two local choices. Something like Blacks Kinsale Pale Ale would go really well here. 

With that we moved on to have another few drinks. Later that evening we went to Probus, but that is deserving of a post of its own. Stay tuned for that.