Every year I travel to Kilkenny with a group of friends to attend the Cat Laughs comedy festival. It has always been a great festival; and add to that some fantastic restaurants and pubs and a good time is had by all.
However, there was always one thing lacking: craft beer. In previous years we have pretty much camped out in The Grapevine as it was the only place I was likely to find craft. Then last year two more venues appeared: Cleeres and The Pumphouse; Both serving a decent range of bottles.
This year the availability was a lot better. Not only have Carlow Brewing opened a craft pub (right beside Cleeres and The Pumphouse) but craft taps have started appearing. And two of the restaurants we visited also had craft on their wine list. Only one minor downside, another venue that had craft bottles for last years Savour festival no longer carried them, so we didn't spend much time there.
So where do you go if you are in Kilkenny and looking for a locally brewed craft beer or cider:
I would like to thank Séan Billings for affording me the opportunity to write an article for the ICB website on the OghamBrew Festival Samhain 2008. The Festival, which took place in Na Fianna GAA on Mobhi Road, Glasnevin, had 15 teams of homebrewers in attendance, all competing for the, by now, coveted awards of People's Choice Award and Judges' Choice Award.
The judging panel consisted of two OghamBrew judges, our head judge George O'Mahony and first-time judge Richie Fass, and two ICB judges, the aforementioned Séan Billings and John 'Beer Nut' Duffy. They were seated at the top table of the venue, overseeing the night’s proceedings, and charged with the task of selecting which of the 19 brews would receive the accolades.
This Saturday, our friends at the National Homebrew Club will be hosting what is probably Ireland's first homebrew beer festival. This is a completely free event both in terms of entry and beer. In fact, it has been worked out that there are roughly 500 pints of homebrew going for free.
This isn't any old homebrew either, this is award wining homebrew. The winners of the NHC national homebrew competition earlier in the year are back with their brews so everyone can have a taste and ask questions of the brewer. This festival will highlight the sort of quality you can achieve with amateur brewing and this in turn can lead to brewers going on to open their own brewery and add to the ever increasing list of Irish micro breweries in Ireland, a number that should be over 40 by this time next year.
I will be there myself with my Dark Stranger Stout which won silver medal in the stout category and was also one of the few beers to get 44, the highest points on the day.
The beer will be served from corny kegs in a cask setup with hand pumps and since the beers are keg conditioned, this will be a real ale affair.
The overall winning beer, Ormeau Dark will also be there if you haven't had it yet. The beer was brewed commercially by Trouble Brewing.
The event kicks off at the Bernard Shaw at 12pm and all are welcome.
The October Bank Holiday week-end has traditionally been known as the Jazz Weekend in Cork (are you goin' jazzin' boy?), but over the past few years I have also visited the Franciscan well this weekend. This year the Oktoberfest was my main focus and I must say I had a most enjoyable time. Being a single man, with no commitments, I did not have to apply for passes to attend! Herewith is a summary of my partaking- hope the memory is o.k.
Since the opening of the Bierhaus, in August 2006, we have a second super location to visit for top quality beers. This year Dave, Mr. Bierhaus, also put on an Oktoberfest Special where he mainly showcased Irish beers, with some international specials as well. Even better choice!