2018 is the seventh consecutive year in which Beoir has chosen a Beer of the Year and two runners-up. As always, the net is cast as widely as possible, with votes coming in from Beoir members all over Ireland, and abroad, and beers selected purely on merit alone, regardless of style, strength, availability or brewery size or ownership. The only criteria is that beers be brewed in Ireland and commercially available during the previous twelve months. It is the purest impression possible of what the discerning drinking public appreciates in Irish beer.
This year a total of 107 different beers received a preference from the voters. From this a top three was chosen mathematically and for the second year running the highest-scoring brewery overall was awarded the best brewery prize.
2018 Beer of the Year
a double IPA by Whiplash Beer, of no fixed abode
It has been a momentous year for Whiplash, beginning of course with it winning Beoir's 2017 Beer of the Year for a previous double IPA, Surrender to the Void. Since then there have been no fewer than five new beers in the same style using different hop combinations. Despite this variety, quadruple-dry-hopped Saturate won drinkers' hearts, topping the table by the highest margin in the history of the competition. The recipe showcases Mosaic hops, employing 20g of hops per litre of beer, and captures their tropical essence perfectly.
Late 2017 saw Whiplash move from its usual headquarters at Rye River and become fully independent, with co-owners Alex and Alan making the project their primary occupations. Alex is working temporarily at Larkin's Brewery in Co. Wicklow, and it's expected the next batch of Whiplash beers will be from there.
a pale ale by Trouble Brewing, Kill, Co. Kildare
Despite a number of near misses over the years, and some very deserving beers, this is the first time Trouble Brewing has featured in the Beoir awards. Ambush's success is a combination of persistence, fashion and of course sheer beer quality. Version 1.0 arrived in early 2017 and two further numbered editions were to follow, all excellent, before the brewery settled on the recipe which is now regularly available, on draught and in cans.
There's a nod to the New England style in here, with its cloudy appearance, soft texture and low bitterness. It avoids the extremes, however, keeping everything fun, juicy, and very drinkable.
At the 2017 Alltech Brews & Food Festival, Kinnegar and The White Hag shared a stand and launched this collaboration beer, brewed on the White Hag kit and presented as the first in a North-Western collaboration series. Though there's nothing new about putting coffee in stout, or ageing it in whiskey barrels, and certainly nothing new about serving it nitrogenated, the combination of these elements here is greater than the sum of its parts. It's smooth without being dull; warming without being boozy and flavoured without being a gimmick.
Of course, as a special edition beer, it may never return to draught again. There might still be a rare bottle or two around, however.
The Oliver Hughes Award for Best Brewery
no fixed abode
OK, so it's not a brewery as such. Recently, Whiplash has produced beers at Rising Sons in Cork and Boyne Brewhouse in Drogheda, as well as its original home of Rye River. We've had collaborations with Galway Bay (Ireland), Max Lager's (USA) and Beerbliotek (Sweden). Though pale 'n' hoppy is the principal specialism, with a significant portion of recent output being double IPAs, 2017 saw the first Whiplash Berliner weisse and its first quadruple. A black IPA is apparently in the tanks for early 2018 release.
Though Saturate (above) garnered far and away the most votes, the other double IPAs scored highly too, indicating that Whiplash is very much in tune with what the Irish beer enthusiast enjoys drinking.
Thanks as always to everyone who voted, and congratulations to all the winners.
While the Irish brewing scene hasn't grown as much in the last twelve months as it has in recent years, the task of picking a best beer from the hundred or so operational breweries has not got any easier. In this the eighth edition of the competition, 73 different beers received a preference from a Beoir member, cutting across styles, strengths and county of origin. As always, every beer brewed on the island and available in the previous year was eligible and voting was open to current Beoir members.
When all the counting up was complete, three winning beers and a winning brewery were selected. And they were:
Dublin 12's leading beer bar, Sheary's of Crumlin, is celebrating Irish Craft Beer Week 2014 with the arrival of a range of new beers on Sunday 31st August.
The award-winning draught line-up includes Eight Degrees Amber-Ella, Galway Hooker Pale Ale and Rascal's Ginger Porter. White Gypsy's Trent bitter will have the honour of being the first to pour from the pub's brand new cask beer engine.
Barbecue will be provided by the always-excellent #BrewsWePlate team, beginning at 4pm. The All-Ireland football semi-final between Dublin and Donegal will be live on the big screen from 3.30pm and at 5.30pm the live blues session with Hollywood Slim kicks off.
The opening weeks of the new decade saw Beoir once again taking the pulse of the Irish beer scene, assessing it via the eyes and palates of its members. This is the ninth annual awards, in which the drinkers en masse choose their favourite Irish beers from the previous calendar year. Any beer brewed on the island of Ireland and available commercially was eligible, and the top three were selected. Additionally, the brewery which scored the most points in total received a separate award.
With voting completed, the winners for 2020 were as follows:
The 13th Belfast Beer and Cider Festival, organised by the Northern Ireland branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, opens at the Ulster Hall on Thursday 22nd November and runs through to Saturday 24th. Over 100 beers and ciders from all around Britain and Ireland will feature during the three days, representing styles as diverse as session-strength blonde ales and lagers, all the way up to scrumpy cider and imperial stout. And everything, or course, will be completely naturally conditioned in accordance with CAMRA guidelines.
For the first time this year, over 30% of the beers and ciders available will come from producers in Ireland. Breweries from the Republic such as Dungarvan, Eight Degrees, Metalman and Trouble will be represented, joining their Northern counterparts Ards, Clanconnel, Hilden, Inishmacsaint and Whitewater.
Highlights from among the English beers available include two from Coniston Brewery which currently holds the Champion Beer of Britain title, and Dark Star's American Pale Ale which was awarded Champion Beer of Belfast at last year's event. Festival-goers are advised to get in early as the most popular beers often sell out by the Saturday evening.
A full beer and cider list, prices, opening hours and the entertainment programme are available at www.belfastbeerfestival.co.uk