Now that the days are beginning to get longer it's time to look forward to some of the beer festivals coming your way over the next few months.
Cask and Winter Ales Festival, Cork, 15-17 February
At the opening event of the 2013 Irish beer calendar, The Franciscan Well will be hosting a celebration of cask-conditioned Irish beer, as well as strong and warming winter ales. Beoir members can avail of a couple of free drinks at the Friday evening session by showing a membership card at the bar.
Irish Craft Beer Village, Dublin, 14-18 March
A five-day spectacular in the Dublin docklands as part of the overall St. Patrick's Day festivities. Featuring live music, artisan food and a wide range of beers from the independent Irish breweries.
Easter Beer Festival, Cork, 30-31 March
One of Ireland's longest running beer festivals and always well attended by the breweries. Expect a mix of old favourites from around the country as well as new release beers and festival specials. Hosted by the Franciscan Well, it opens at 2pm on both days and admission is free.
Some new seasonal beers recently arrived, and on the way, from Ireland's craft breweries:
Voyager IPA by Galway Bay Brewery
Expected to come in around the 6% ABV mark, this IPA has been thoroughly hopped with Pacifica and Pacific Jade. Available exclusiverly on draught in the Cottage Group pubs in Dublin and Galway.
Kindred Spirit by Eight Degrees Brewing
An export-strength stout aged in Irish whiskey barrels, adding a subtle oak-and-smoke effect to the chocolate stout notes. 7% ABV and available on draught.
O'Hara's Double IPA by Carlow Brewing
A bigger brother to O'Hara's Irish Pale ale, this dark amber ale is 7.5% ABV and offers smooth warming toffee malt flavours contrasting with zesty citrus from the generous hopping. Available on draught.
Equinox by Metalman Brewing
The latest beer in the limited-edition "Chameleon" series, Equinox is a 4.6% ABV wheat lager brewed with orange, lemon and coriander.
Mahon Falls Rye Pale Ale by Dungarvan Brewing
Based on the very limited special edition Rye-PA Dungarvan brought to the 2012 Irish Craft Beer Festival, Mahon Falls promises all the punchy bitterness and fruit flavours of the original. 5.1% ABV and available on cask and bottled.
Great news for craft beer in Ireland; our friends at The Porterhouse Brewing company, last featured in TheBeerNut's article about our visit to their brewery for the launch of Hop Head, have announced that they will be venturing into the realm of bottled beer.
The team behind award-winning Dublin pubs L. Mulligan. Grocer and W.J. Kavanagh's have recently created their own beer brand. Titled The Brown Paper Bag Project, the emphasis will be on innovation and experimentation, covering a wide range of beer styles, methods and ingredients and brewed at a variety of different breweries.
The first in the series was launched at W.J. Kavanagh's on 24th November and is a dark Belgian style ale utilising a single variety of hop called Dr. Rudi, from New Zealand, which also gives the beer its name. Brewed at the Eight Degrees brewery in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, Dr. Rudi is 7.4% ABV and available on draught in Mulligan's and Kavanagh's, as well as in 33cl bottles.
The Brown Paper Bag Project website is currently under construction here, and the Project is also on Twitter.
On Thursday 23rd March the Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Bill 2016 will have its second stage debate in Dáil Éireann. If passed, this legislation will allow breweries and distilleries to sell their produce directly to the public, revolutionising the Irish artisan drinks industry while also bringing it into line with almost every other country in the world.
Taprooms will increase beer tourism, help stabilise the current industry and attract new players to this tentatively growing field, all across the country. Independent Irish beer makes up less than 3% of the market at the moment; the presence of taprooms will help build that to the level found in fully developed beer markets of around 12-15%.
Since it was first published late last year there has been a small but positive reaction to the Bill. However, some major influencers on the legislative process, including the Government itself, have yet to express an official position. It's entirely possible that those who do not want the Bill to pass are simply waiting quietly for it to be stifled in the Dáil. As it's a private members bill introduced by a Labour Party deputy, there's every chance that that could happen.
And this is where you come in. Contact your TDs, from all parties. Write, email, telephone, meet them at their constituency clinic. Tell them that the Bill is due for second stage on Thursday 23rd. Ask them if they will consider co-sponsoring the Bill: this will give it more time in the chamber and increase its chances of surviving. At the very least ask them to vote for it, and remind them that you will be watching on the day. If the Bill doesn't make it to the next stage, at least you can say you did your bit.
For details of your representatives, see www.whoismytd.com.