Over the October Bank Holiday weekend for the second year running, Bord Bia has organised a nationwide celebration of Irish farmhouse cheese and craft beer. Over 20 tasting and demonstration events will be taking place around the country, with many pubs, off licences and markets offering the opportunity to try some of the best Irish cheeses with our native craft beers. Formats vary from formal tutored tasting events to casual tasting trays of cheese and beer available throughout the weekend.
Cheese and beer is a natural pairing and represents two products about which Ireland has a great deal to be proud. This weekend offers a great opportunity to explore them side by side.
The events begin on Thursday 25th October and run through until Monday 29th. Details of the events can be found on the Bord Bia website here, as well as the chance to win a craft beer and cheese hamper (closing date 24th October).
Oktoberfest season is upon us once again, the annual celebration of strong Bavarian lager served in one litre mugs. It's the time of year when you can expect to find even the most traditional of Irish pubs decked out in blue and white and flying the flags of either Paulaner or Erdinger.
Usually, The Bull & Castle in Dublin is no exception to this, but they've taken a different tack for 2013. From 20th September through to 6th October the Beer Hall will be celebrating its first "Irishtoberfest", showcasing limited edition beers from Irish microbreweries.
The line-up includes Eight Degrees Amber Ella, one of the best-received beers at the Irish Craft Beer and Cider Festival earlier this month. Brand new specials include Smokescreen: a dark smoked ale from Metalman, and Fuzzy Logic: the first wheat beer by Trouble Brewing. If you simply must have a maßkrug of lager there's O'Hara's Helles and Eight Degrees Barefoot Bohemian Pilsner to quench your thirst.
Black's Kinsale Craft Brewery is one of the newest arrivals on the rapidly growing Irish craft beer scene, founded by Beoir member Sam Black. So far one beer has been produced under the brand -- Kinsale Pale Ale -- which already has a medal under its belt, winning bronze at the recent Alltech Dublin Craft Cup. Sam is currently producing his beer at the Eight Degrees brewery but has plans to set up his own kit in the town of Kinsale itself, and that's where you step in.
To get things moving, Sam is seeking crowd funding via the IndieGoGo website. It's not the first time an Irish brewery has taken this approach to financing, White Gypsy ran something similar earlier this year via Linked Finance. While White Gypsy's scheme was more a call for investors seeking a monetary return, Kinsale's scheme on IndieGoGo is offering a range of unique and exclusive incentives for investors over a range of prices.
Just €5 will ensure your name is etched on the sponsor's wall in the brewery, while at the upper end €1,000 buys you your own personalised batch of beer: 200 bottles of your ideal brew, created under your supervision and personalised with your own label. In between there's a wide range of other items available, including t-shirts, brewery tours, tankards and three exclusive yet-to-be-brewed beers, a double IPA, black IPA and imperial stout, created in a strictly limited edition.
If you want to lend some direct support to Irish craft brewing, avail of exclusive one-off beers or just have your name recorded as one of the people behind this part of Ireland's beer revolution, check out the Kinsale Craft Brewery project at IndieGoGo before September 15th.
Update: Beoir is aiming to commission a special batch of custom beer from the new brewery. If you'd like to be one of the twenty people involved, pledge your support here.
2013 looks to be a bumper year for Irish craft brewing. With Mountain Man launching shortly, to be followed by Holy Mountain, 9 White Deer and several others, the prospective is one of greater choice than ever before for the beer consumer.
The established microbreweries, meanwhile, are struggling to keep up with demand, and two of them have recently undertaken expansion work.
The Galway Bay Brewery opened at The Oslo in Salthill, Co. Galway in 2009. The brewkit was a modest 10hL set-up in a rear corner of the building. Since opening, however, the Cottage Group of pubs which owns the brewery has expanded significantly and now carries three to four Galway Bay beers in seven pubs in Dublin and Galway as well as the brewpub itself. With plans afoot to launch the range in bottles too, the need for greater capacity was obvious.
Space has been found on the Oslo premises to double the kit size and a 20hL brewhouse is now under construction. The open fermenters will largely be replaced by sealed unitanks allowing a much greater degree of control over each batch. A smaller pilot brewery is also to be installed, allowing what head brewer Chris Treanor describes as "more adventurous brews" to be produced. The new area is split over two storeys, allowing for a on-site malt store as well as a laboratory.
The new brewkit arrives next month and Chris is hoping the first beer from it will be flowing in July.
Meanwhile, the elder of Co. Donegal's two breweries -- Kinnegar, established 2011 -- is also in the process of increasing its capacity, "from tiny to just plain small" says proprietor Rick LeVert. A purpose-built brewhouse is almost finished at time of writing, occupying a compact 100 square metres on a farmyard site overlooking Lough Swilly.
The brewery will be home to a two-vessel brewkit plus three cylindrical fermentation vessels and a number of conditioning and bright beer tanks. Determined to keep the business on a farmyard scale, the new Kinnegar brewery will be creating its beers in 10hL batches.
June 2013 is the month Rick expects his hair to go grey, with the expected completion of the building, delivery of the equipment and -- all going well -- the first brewday. You can see pictures of the new brewery and follow developments as they happen on the Kinnegar Brewing website.
Beoir wishes every success to both projects and we look forward to tasting the new beers.
If you have been following this thread in the forum you will know that I have made a submission to the Alcohol Advisory Group on behalf of the members of this website.
Thanks to TheBeerNut for the idea and taking everyone's opinions, expressed over a six page long thread and melding them into a coherent whole.
The group will be making their recommendations to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform by the 31st of March 2008.
The document was submitted via email earlier today. Download the full text here.