When The Franciscan Well offered ICB the opportunity to stage a live event in its back yard, the membership leapt at the opportunity. Five months of planning ensued, and at 2pm on sunny Saturday 18th April the doors opened on Ireland's first homebrewing exhibition.
Volunteer members of Irish Craft Brewer had travelled from as far away as Dublin to spend the day sharing their knowledge and their beer with anyone interested in making their own quality brews at home.
The Franciscan Well Brewpub's annual winter beer festival, Cask Ales & Strange Brews, always features a most interesting selection of one-offs and special editions from Irish breweries. As is traditional at this stage, Beoir was invited to assemble a team of judges to put the beers through their paces and pick category winners and the best in show.
A total of 30 beers were divided into four categories and assessed by a team of eight experienced judges, under the supervision of Reuben Gray, ably assisted by Derek Sheridan. The winners were as follows:
"Day return to Hilden, please."
The girl at the ticket window looked confused. "Where?"
"Hilden. It's near Lisburn."
"One moment please" and she scurried off into a back office. I became intensely aware of the queue behind me, the membership wondering why they always joined the one with the nutter at the front.
A young man appeared at the ticket window. "Yes?"
"Day return to Hilden, please."
"Just a minute..." he turned and consulted a chart on the wall, and on coming back sold me a day return ticket to Hilden.
I took it from Irish Rail's unfamiliarity with the tiny village between Belfast and Lisburn that on my first ever visit to a beer festival I wouldn't be joined by hordes of thirsty Dubs on the Rail Ale Express to drunken oblivion. As it turned out, after transferring at Portadown, I was the only one getting off the train at the suburban halt. A handful of families wheeling buggies were down at street level heading in the direction of the thumping music from the yard of the Hilden Brewery, staging the second day of its annual three-day beer festival under the banner "Live Beer, Real Music".
Starting 11th July and running on most Friday evenings through the next two months, the Dungarvan Brewing Company will be holding a series of tasting sessions at the brewery.
Participants will learn about the ingredients of beer, the brewing process and the many flavours and aromas of craft beer via a tutored tasting.
For more on the event see the brewery blog.
The Franciscan Well’s Easter beer festival has proved, by all accounts, to be a very popular beer festival, gathering most of the craft brewers of Ireland under the one roof (or marquee). This was to be my first visit to the festival, and I was advised to arrive early. So shortly after lunch time on a glorious Easter Saturday, I strolled up the quays, and reached my destination. Already, there was a scattering of people in the marquee out in the courtyard. As I didn’t see any fellow forumites on first glance, I turned my attention to the stalls, and decided to head first to the Hooker Brewery, to try their Galway Hooker. As chance would have it, two more ICB regulars were already there.