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

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