Monday, March 30, 2015

Irish Beer & Whiskey Festival 2015

Helping out at a beer festival can be a good bit of fun, and this year was no exception. The Irish Beer and Whiskey festival has moved from CHQ down on the quays to it new location in hall 1 at the RDS. I found myself helping out at the concession stand with a few other of the Beoir members.  The hall is a much bigger venue than the old CHQ and a better one in my opinion. Much more seating than even the Septembers festival too. The only down side was the reduce number of glass wash stand and potable water for people, but this are minor quibble to what was a great festival.   
Lager space hall with plenty of seating and room for everyone to get around.

There where some great beers on offer and a few festival special that where launched for the event.  Given that I was volunteering there was a lot less note taking that I probably should have done. But here are some of my favourite  beers and ciders that I came across at the festival.

First up was a beer I had heard very good things about on the grape or beer line, Black Bucket from Kinnegar. A black rye IPA (6.5%), probably a first for Ireland. Flowing with big flora, pine and citrus zest aroma. Black in colour, but without any major roastiness like many good blacks IPA. A medium bodied beer that finished up with a lingering hoppyness. Overall a very well crafted black IPA. 

Two new beers that  8 Degrees  had on keg for the festival where, polar vortex which I  had previously reviewed Weather Experience: Polar Vortex. Although the review was based on the the bottle serving rather than keg. Both format where equality good. The second  was Enigma (6%) a SMaSH beer, single malt and single hop in this case the newly release Enigma hop from Australia. 54 IBU's weighing in, high for a pale ale and with the 6% ABV this could easily be many breweries IPA. But that's just how the roll over at 8 Degrees.  A golden color in the glass with an a aroma of melon, with a touch of candied oranges too. This then followed up with a slight dank-ish  hop herb aroma, possibly very slightly peppery.  That in total works really well.  Finishing up with a nice clean bitterness. The malt is some what in the background, but this beer is all about showcasing these new hop which it does in spades. 

Trouble brewing possible brought the most specials to the festival. Sadly the cask of their Triple IPA, (11% ABV) was not ready on the Saturday when I was around. But it is good to see a brewer hold back a cask till its in the right condition before tapping. One of my top beer at The Irish craft festival last September (2014) was  their Vietnow IPA. This current version was dry-hopped with  Comet hops. I am not sure if the standard brew was dry hopped with the same hop. I did pick some herbal/glassy not that I did not remember from last time. But it all worked out very well.

Up next was their new released Fallen Idol and the second Black IPA-dark ale of the festival. Weighing in at 6.3% and hopped with Chinook, Citra and Vic Secret. The aroma is a big load of citrus hops finishing with some dank-ness. The flavour has a little roast with  a  good bit of resin from the hops in the finish. But that just in total adds up to a near perfect CDA-Black IPA in my book. Again another masterfully brewed beer for the trouble brewing boys. The last of their festival special I got to try was Wandering Star. A 5.3% blonde ale, brewed with Golden Promise malt, and hopped  with Summer and Huell Melon. A tasty beer, lighter in taste and aroma  than the previous tow. I did pick up some stone fruit and a little melon. I could see this been a very popular summer beer.  

The one cider I tried over the even was Stonewell Festival, golden in colour, low in carbonate and in all a very tasty cider

Independent brewing had two beer for the festival. The first was their  Pale ale casked hopped with citra. The aroma started of with a musky tropical fruit finish up with  a light citrus notes. Which I presume was the contribution of the citra. The second and my favourite of the two was there special festival IPA and their first IPA I believe. A big bitter beer with lots of orange and grapefruit aroma. The 7% abv was not as apparent as I would have believed for such a strong beer.  

There was green beer to for those who want it. Independent brewing gold ale was infused with a natural green colouring from Spirulin. Not the first time seen in Ireland the  Bull and Castle  did a similar thing a few years ago to great success with tourists.  

The only White hag  beer I got to try was their White sow  on coffee rocket (Randell). The base beer is a oatmeal milk, which is a solid beer with a creamy body with a very nice roasty finish. The hook for me was coffee rocket (randell) with 3FE. The aroma was of big fresh well brewed coffee and one I would love to see around again.  

The third black IPA that I was looking out for was the releases of O Brother Brewing Bonita (India Dark ale), Spanish for " pretty, cute"  and it certainly is.  7% ABV it is well hidden in this beer. A little roastiness  on the palate like all the best Black IPA's. Bitterness was low, which allowed some sweet hop flavor come through. The aroma was a big C hop fruit which I thought were coming from  a combo of Simcoe/Columbus with maybe some Cascade.  A lovely beer for a such a new brewery. 

I helped out for a bit behind the bar for Mountain Man and its possibly one of the fun-est thing to do at a festival. As you  get to meet some great people and the fans of the beer. One beer I was looking to was their Sneaky owl, I missed the Franciscan wells cask festival. A dark English style bitter, ruby in colour and with a firm malt backbone. Aroma was of dark fruit with a light bitterness a beer that would be prefect for serving on cask. A beer that was  very popular with the punters, while I was on the bar.  On cask was hairy goat and it was also in top condition proving very popular too.  

Sam from Blacks Brewery and Derek Neville from 8 Degrees chatting over a glass of Polar vortex. Its always great to chat to the brewers over a few beers.

The food offering where much more extensive than last years CHQ event, much more in line with the September event. there was some old favorites like the Pie man and Jane Russell sausages.  

Jugging buy the quality of the three CDA's-Black IPA's its a style that Irish brewers have really nailed down.
All in all a great festival and I think the new venue was a hit with everone

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Meet The Brewers 2: The fog or smoke of War

One beer I left out of the last blog post complete by accident was St Mels Spring bock. Its very unusual to see a bock been brewed on these shores,  but a very welcome  one. Weigh-in at 5.6% ABV, on the light end for a bock. But making it a more sessional beer than some of it tutionic brethren. A dark gold in colour, with a clean finish in short a very tasty lager. But the hook for me was the following smoky flavour, something that's push this beer into the must try range. A beer that is reminisce of some of the great German rauch beers and one that I hope is brewed long enough till the first BBQ of the season can be lit. Liam the brewer said there was no smoked malt used, but you have to admire the brewing alchemy that can coaxes such flavours from the yeast.  One definitely to look out for. 
Picture via St Mels FB page

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Meet The Brewers

The first Friday of March was a trip to Barry and Fitzwilliam distributors, to meet their stable of craft  brewers and cider makers. It was held in the Herbert park hotel and was a cosy affair with  the air of a small festival about it. 

First up was the relase of "Little barney" from Poker Tree in collaboration with Marble brewers Manchester. A 5% amber beer with big cascade nose, with the unmistakable sherbet aroma. It's a dry beery with a firm bitterness, somewhat remindeds me of MarbleDobber. In short living up to the West cost IPA name and a very tasty beer.

"Lager is Lager yellow and fizzy", not so with Bo Bristle Pilsner. It was my first time encountering it. Some cereal note with a slight sweet finish and then finished with a a nice bitterness. Dave said it was under-carbonated, but I found this made it very drinkable and a very welcome change to the mass fizzy yellow stuff.

My First cider of the event was from Long Ways. Their elder-flower infusion was very interesting. The aroma was of gooseberry, sauvignon blanc an usual addition, but welcome to the Irish cider market. One that could prove quite popular one a bit of sun comes out. Following that I had a quick sample of Scotts cider, lots of tannin structure and oak aroma. A different beast from this first, but none the less very enjoyably.

A trip over to Cotton Ball to put some faces to the their twitter account was next on the list. I previously had their Indian summer, which I brought along to a BYO dinner with friends at the beginning of the year. It was very well received by craft and non-craft friends alike. So they must be on to a good thing. One  beer I have manged to over look was  their Kerry lane pale ale. It very  much reminder me of a east coast American pale ale. Solid C hop on the nose, malty which a touch of  crystal malt on the palate and following with a clean bitterness, very enjoyable.  Last was their Mayfeild 5, a solid lager all in all  But unusual for a lager bitter with  Columbus, something normal reserved for IPA's.  Given what I have seen and tasted from both Cotton Ball and Bo Bristle I will be seeking out more Irish craft lagers. 

Possibly the first sighting south of the boarder  is Belfast newest brewery Knock Out Brewing.  In a few short years has grown to be the home of five breweries. Knock out were showcasing  their two core beers. The first was their Irish Red Ale a solid enough Irish red, mild sweetness with a touch of caramel.  The second  was their Middleweight IPA . On the light end of the IPA family, moderate bitterness and aroma, but an a very approachable beer for many of the public I suspect.

Last but not least was a quick trip around to Baggot Street Wines to meet O Brother Brewing for CB Growlers launch. A quick sample of their tasty, citrusy APA and some growler fills and we where off again. A bit thank you to Barry and Fitzwilliam distributors and the guys at Baggot Street Wines for the evening.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

Weather Experience: Polar Vortex IPA

The Polar Vortex has arrived!

Short-Pour: I picked up a bottle from my local Molloys as the Irish beer and whiskey festival was starting up at the RDS. It weighs in a 5.8%  abv and 59 IBU's (bitterness). Hops are listed as cascade, citra and Simcoe. The grist is kept fairly simple in pale malt, Carapils and Cara aroma.  The aroma I found to be  of the tropical fruits variety. With a slight dank/dark finish, most likely coming from the Simcoe addition. I  didn't  get the sherbet notes,  that some times can be associated with cascade. But maybe the paring with citra edged this towards the  tropical fruit end. Flavour wise I noted  C hops,   following with some pine and then brimming with a  smooth hop bitterness. 

Reminiscing I though there was a firm nod towards  it's other running mate Amber-Ella, but with a slightly darker finishing hop presence. Probably similarity in colour and somewhat in aroma where the trigger for those fond memories. Over all I found this to be  another very enjoyable IPA from 8 Degrees.

Color: Amber with slight red-hue.
Aroma: Tropical fruit aroma, C hops and finishing with a  dank edge.
Flavour: C hops, pine, brimming with a smooth hop bitterness. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Festivals of Days Past

"Winds in the east, mist coming in. Like somethin' is brewin' and bout to begin. Can't put me finger on what lies in store, / But I fear what's to happen all happened before..........." 

As the Irish Beer and Whiskey Festival 2015 is about to kick off today and running  till St Patrick's day. I though I would take a very short recap at the two related festivals of last year I attended. 

The September is now a well trodden calendar date for  Irish Craft Beer Festival, held in the very beautiful Victorian halls in the RDS. 

A first for me with  Teeling Whiskey and one I will be returning to this year. An Kentucky Ale an old friend an this stage.  

I spent some time helping out over at the Craigies Cider booth, a classic Brittany cider and well worth seeking out . A great experience and some very tasty cheeses to give out to the punters too. 

Its not beer festival with out Jane Russell sausages, always a personal favourite of mine, sausages-fest!! 

My own  true original, a "Dirty Hooker" beer cocktail comprising of  half Galway Hooker pale ale and their  Stout! The stout was on cask to and in perfect condition. 

N17  brewery and Sarah Roarty  where pouring their very tasty and award winning Oatmeal stout.The recipe was developed Richie and was in tip-top condition on the beer engine. 

The last picture was courtesy of 2014 St Patrick's festival down in the CHQ. Nothing better than having a pint of something dark around Patrick's weekend. In this case it was Blacks IPA with all the lovely C hops aroma of a well made American IPA, but with out the big roast you would expect with a black beer.

Well that's all folks, roll on Irish Beer and Whiskey Festival 2015 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Alltech Craft Brews & Food Festival 2015 Part 2 "Exogenous Brewing"


First up of the non Irish brewers was a trip over to Beavertown. I starter of with their London weisse, a lovely soft-milky lacto fuelled berlinerweisse. An then came the gin botanical's, juniper and grapefruit zest to name a few. In short very re-freshening and enjoyable beer. Following that I moved on to sample some of the newly released Bloody 'Ell Blood Orange IPA (7.2%). Brewed with Blood orange juice and zest in the boil an a big dose of Amarillo  and citra to round of the citrus aroma  This beer is all about the aroma, a big fresh orange, almost like fresh squeezed juice.  There was little orange flavour on the palate, but it just to encourage you to breath deep citrus aroma. Again another enjoyable beer.

One of the non Irish breweries present at the festival that I have not tried any of their beer before. An I was really looking forward to was Red Well . After  tweeting with  Nate , I found out they where going to have a special brew at the festival, a white IPA no less. It's a blend of a Belgian Wit base malt (50% wheat, malted in this case) and spices (coriander and Orange). With the hopping rate and variates one would associate  with an American IPA.  Yeast in this case they opted for the classic american ale yeast, which allows that hops to shine though. Nate told me they used Simcoe, Blema and Amarillo in the boil and the a loads of citra to dry hop with and they certainly do shine through.  The softness from the malted wheat and low bitterness make with a very easy drinker even-though it's a 6% beer!  There was also their tasty steam lager, light aroma with a hint of fruit with a refreshing taste that hit the spot. Then next on to their India Pale lager, a bigger beast at 5.5%. But hopping reminiscent of an American IPA with spruce and floral aromas.  

Last but not least was the trip over to Thornbridge booth to try their new released Jaipur X. A DIPA to celebrate their 10th birthday. A 10% IPA and as you can expect  its a big beer, medium body that follows up with  grapefruit and pine  on the nose. A very solid DIPA, one I think like Hilden's that could age in to a very nice Barley wine. But I suspect that few bottle will last that long! 

Well that's it,  thank you very much to all at  Alltech , Maev,  Tracey  and the brewers for having us.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Alltech Craft Brews & Food Festival 2015 Part 1 "Indigenous Brewing"

My first year, but  now in its third  the festival appears to be going from strength to strength. I kicked of the festival with The Beer Nut  in trying Hilden's  new double IPA (DIPA), Bucks Head 7.2%. The body of the beer is  of an English heritage, rich an malty and  a good dash of crystal  flavor too. But there  is a firm  nod to the US with part of the bittering coming from Citra/ First gold and Cascade for aroma. For a big beer the alcohol was in the background, making this 7.2% a very easy sipper. Given the big rich malt, I think this a one DIPA that could take a bit of aging and still have something to offer the drinker.  

Keeping in theme somewhat with the DIPA's,  Rye River Brewing and brewer Alex Lawes had an execlent DIPA, very fresh and busting with C hop aroma. A dry finish made this very drinkable and something I do like to see in american centric  DIPA's. Up next was their Berliner weisse, a handy foil to  refresh the plate after the DIPA and refresh it did.  Two other notable mentions  where their saison and the dry hopped Cousin Rosies's pale ale.
Berliner weisse

Next a trip over to the lads 8 degrees, Firstly to be present for the award of  Beoir's  beer of the year 2015.  For their Full Irish IPA.  A cracken beer but  personally I though their nelson  saison piped it. For flawlessly melding a Belgian yeast with New Zealand nelson sauvin hops IMO. But the IPA was a firm favorite among Beoir's members.  They also launched their new IPA "Gasman" 7.8%.  A rye IPA to be precise, Orange in hue and a big flavored IPA,from the resinous  hops,  No doubt from the generous  use of Topaz and Vic secret. Head on over to The Irish Craft Beer Show for interviews with 8 degrees and brewers at the festival, by Brian and John "The beer Nut"
Beoir award 

Gasman IPA
I had a nice long chat with Quincey Fennelly from Wicklow Wolf about how they began the brewery. From the amount of breweries staring in Wicklow, it could well become Ireland's version of  Oregon in the US. Two beers I was look forward to trying  were their Wicklow common, a style of beer I don't think has been seen in Ireland before. The second was their Solar Eclipse, a dark Saison no-less and its something to see the Irish brewing scene staring to push the boundary's of this beer styles. 

Wicklow wolf beers 
Popping over to Trouble Brewing I finally got to taste the  Beoir #2 collaboration beer.   A big hoppy Imperial red  with lots of aroma you would expect and at 7.8% and its hidden well in the beer.  Very popular from what I heard. Picture via Alltech. 

Trouble Brewing 
Last of the  beery happy snaps falls with Rascals . Pictured is one of their two sliver medals, for Wit woo and Ginger porter.  Their Kiwi Pale Ale  as the name suggest was loaded with New Zealand hops,  Motueka and Wakat I believe . Light and thrust quenching, more one the resinous side that citrus but lovely none the less.   

Cider from Dan Kellys  was a welcome change from all the hoppy beers and always good when I have had it. Sadly I did not take anymore notes, I probably was talking to much! The other  cider had was from Fallen Apple tasty and a welcome replacement to the Clonmel stuff.  One to look out for. 
Dan Kelly's 

Other notable mentions, but no pictures sorry !

Dungarvan Mine head and Mahon falls
Metalman  Alternator
Kentucky Brown Honey Ale
Blacks  Model T 

A very big thank you to all at
 Alltech and the brewers to for a great day.