Podcast Episode Forty Six – A Hen and A Saucer

Podcast Episode Forty Six – A Hen and A Saucer

In this latest episode, we look back at what we’ve been up to since the The White Hag’s birthday bash

Whetting our whistle with a couple of Hillstown Brewery beers, courtesy of Instagram legend, and all round Nice Guy Antrim_Man

Not only did he provide the beers, but he also provided the picture too! Cheers Mark. Be sure to follow him on instagram.

We also look forward to the upcoming festivals, as we hit peak beer fest season in Ireland.

Also be sure to follow Our Hoppy Travels on Instagram here

All the results from the World Beer Awards are here

You can also download the episode directly here, on iTunes, or Stitcher Radio.

The good folk at the Great Irish Beer Festival have given us two pairs of tickets to give away to our listeners, for the Thursday evening which features Stiff Little Fingers as well as numerous beers! All you have to do, is comment below in the comments section, the answer to the following question.

Which act that is appearing at the Great Irish Beer Festival does Janice really enjoy?

Competition closes on Monday 21st August, please note tickets are only for the Thursday evening session. There will be two winners, who will get a pair of tickets each. Winner will be selected at random from correct entries in the comments box.

#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?


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.


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.


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.



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.


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

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.

Until 2018 Killarney, you’ve been great!


Podcast Episode Forty One – 10 Things You Never Knew You Wanted To Know About Beer Festivals Pt2

Podcast Episode Forty One – 10 Things You Never Knew You Wanted To Know About Beer Festivals Pt2


This is the second part of an epic collaboration with our good friends Steve and Martin over at Hopinions which you can check out the first part here

Here we look deeper in to things about Beer Festivals, and cover a wide and varied range of subjects in this space.

Get in touch with us and your thoughts on beer festivals! Use the hashtags #Hopical & #Hopinions

We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Tracey and Aoife of Alltech’s media team for their hospitality again this year. It truly is what set’s this festival apart from all the others. Sláinte.

You can download the episode directly here , on iTunes, and Stitcher Radio.

Podcast Episode Forty – Alltech Brews & Food 2017

Podcast Episode Forty – Alltech Brews & Food 2017

In this latest podcast episode we look back to the weekends Alltech Brews & Food Festival where we had a really enjoyable weekend.

We enjoyed great company, and many highlights.

Our hopical topic was naturally a look back at Alltech.

We also announce details of our upcoming collaboration with our friends over at the Hopinions Podcast – so if you don’t subscribe to them, make sure you do now.

As always, you can count on Simon Broderick to have a blog up and his is here

You can find our podcast on iTunes, or by direct link here