The Irish Craft Beer Festival 2015 is almost here. For three days, dozens of breweries and hundreds of beers will be taking over the RDS in Dublin, alongside whiskey, cider, food, music and debate. It's the perfect opportunity to explore Irish craft beer under one roof, and try beers from breweries you've never met before.
But there's also the chance to taste one-off and rare beers not usually available at all. We've decided to compile this list of the specials we know about to whet your appetite ahead of the festival. It's not complete, it may not even be accurate, but it should get your mouth watering.
Don't forget to bring your Beoir membership card for half price admission at the door!
Blacks of Kinsale
Sour Brown Ale
Imperial Red Ale: 7.3%
Strong Ale: 10.4%
October Ale: 7%
Copper Coast aged in Sherry barrels: 4.3%
Raspberry Black Rock: 4.3%
Ochtoberfest Boch: 6.4%
Millennium Imperial IPA: 10%
Hilly Head Farmhouse Red Ale
Crossroads: American Style IPA, 6.2%
Geuzberry: Gooseberry kettle sour, 5.2%
Hillbilly Heaven: American bourbon oak aged ale
Hairy Nuts: IPA with pecan nuts
Broken Hipster: Ginger beer
No Country for Owl Men: Irish whiskey oak aged Ale
Beard of Zeus: Raspberry Ale
Bruce's Bluenoser: 4% blueberry ale
Year of the Goat: 4.5% coriander & anise ale
Vincent Van Coff: 4.6% coffee & vanilla ale
33: Sticke Altbier
Brutus Double IPA
Rhubarb and Strawberry Wheat Beer
Hop Heavy IPA
Curious Brew: Brewed with gin botanicals
Chardonnay Aged Saison
Big Hop Red infused with 250 Square Coffee
Sim Simma: Hemp ale
Triple Decoction Doppelbock
Rye River Saison
Smoked Belgian Dunkelweizen
Double Decoction Marzen
Oak Aged Keeping Red
Hipster Hopped - TNT
Hipster Hopped - Azacca
Hipster Hopped - Experimental Grapefruit
Watermelon Wheat Ale
Sexy Lacto Flanders
Sticker Junkie: IIPA
Belgian Single w/ Nelson Sauvin
Farami: coffee stout
Elevation Pale Ale
Last weekend I jetted off to Munich for various reasons one of which was to attend the Stark bier festival. This is the strong beer festival and is a fairly hush-hush affair (see how few hits on Google). We landed Saturday morning and after visiting friends in the sleepy suburb of Dalfing we had a few Franziskaners in the typical Bavarian local bar / restaurant to wash down our schnitzel and fried potatoes.
Next was off to the Irish Folk Pub off Leopoldstrasse to watch the rugby. Here we were jammed like sardines into what claims to be the oldest Irish pub in Germany. Not bad for an Irish pub and it isn’t actually that tacky. It doubles as HQ for the Munich GAA team. Here we had the obligatory one pint of Guinness which was actually good (but one of my rules from day one when travelling is drink local, eat local). The rest was pints of Spaten (served in manky stackable pint glasses).
How could I justify yet another trip to the UK in the same year? I had been once in May, another for the christening for a friend's child in early September. Another trip within the space of a month?! This needed another reason to go and I didn’t have to search long before I found it. Which came first, the egg or the chicken, the Wessex Beer Festival or the Great British Cheese Festival? What mattered was that both festivals were being held on the same weekend, the last weekend of September, 26th to 27th to be exact. We were soon on our way.
Ask not what your country can do for you...
There are times in our lives when we have to step up to the plate and do our duty. We may not like it, but sometimes it has to be done for the greater good. So it was in Tara’s Speciality Beer House in Ballina last weekend, when I was asked to step in as third judge for the homebrew beer competition on the Saturday evening. For the sake of humanity I agreed to spend an afternoon sampling beers. A tough task, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Coinciding with the growing number of microbreweries in Ireland, and the pubs that serve their beers, there’s also an increasing number of special events around the country where Irish craft beer can be tried. Often, the brewers use these to launch special edition beers that can’t be had anywhere else.
Several of the specialist beer pubs also run events during the year: both the Porterhouse and Bull & Castle have special Irish beer promotions in March, plus an Oktoberfest in the autumn, as does the Bierhaus in Cork. You’ll also find Irish breweries represented at food and drink events like the Waterford Festival of Food (14-17 April) and the Belfast Christmas Market (19 November - 18 December [TBC]). This article, however, is about the full-sized festivals where you can have a day out and sample the best our native brewing industry has to offer.