Throughout the month of January, Beoir members voted on the best beers of the previous twelve months. The aim is to find the nation's favourite Irish beer -- not the most true-to-style or technically adept, but the one that the drinkers enjoyed drinking most of all.
Every beer brewed on the island of Ireland and available commercially during 2013 was eligible. From a field of hundreds, 85 different beers received some sort of preference from at least one drinker, crossing styles from pale lagers and weissbiers to spiced porters and imperial stouts, produced by breweries of all sizes, multinational industrial and local microbrewery alike.
In the end, three beers came out as the consistent favourites, making the results unusually clear cut.
2014 Beer of the Year
Of Foam and Fury
a double IPA by Galway Bay Brewery, Salthill, Co. Galway
Remarkably, this beer only arrived on the market in late November 2013 and distribution was limited to the brewery's own pubs in Dublin and Galway, though a bottled version is now available in good off licences. A massive 8.5% ABV might suggest this is not for the faint-hearted or lily-livered but it's a masterpiece of the brewer's art, drawing out fresh flavours of peach and nectarine from the hops alongside the more assertive acidic grapefruit. Its strength isn't exactly hidden -- this is patently obviously a strong beer and to be savoured not slurped -- but the alcohol is put to good use as a carrier of flavour and is not simply there for its own sake.
an amber ale by Eight Degrees Brewing, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork
An instant hit with fans when it first appeared on draught at the 2013 Irish Craft Beer and Cider Festival in Dublin last September, Amber-Ella has since been made available in bottled form. The hops are a carefully chosen combination of Australian varieties: Galaxy for its jaffa and tangerine fruitiness, and Ella for a sharper, spicier edge. While the hoppiness is at the level one would expect in a pale ale, this has been given a darker malt base, adding a richness which complements the hops rather than hiding them. Originally a limited run, a second batch of Amber-Ella will be available very shortly.
Metalman Pale Ale
by Metalman Brewing, Waterford City
Though brewed for the first time a mere three years ago, Metalman Pale Ale has firmly established its place as a regular beer for the discerning Irish consumer. It cemented this position by claiming the Beer of the Year in 2013, and while it has moved aside for newer releases this year, it still beat off stiff competition from a host of other pale ales new to the Irish market. For those who have not yet made its acquaintance, Metalman Pale Ale is a 4.3% ABV session beer created with Cascade and Summit hops. Crisp citrus is the centrepiece and it manages the difficult trick of combining complex flavours with easy drinkability. It's available nationwide, on draught only, for the moment.
Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all the Beoir members who took the time to vote.
It's not a brewery and it's not on a corner, but Kilkenny's leading craft beer pub can now boast national recognition having been awarded the 2013 Craft Beer Pub of the Year by Licensing World Magazine.
Even though the pub has only been in business for less than six months, the award will come as no surprise to anyone who has visited: perhaps uniquely among Irish pubs, every beer on tap comes from an Irish microbrewery and the selection is wide-ranging. Although the premises is owned by the Carlow Brewing Company it is heartening to see such support being given to the smaller producers.
The pub itself is clean and modern with some nice traditional touches including open fires. The staff are well trained, extremely helpful and show a genuine enthusiasm for craft beer.
Congratulations from Beoir to all who have made Brewery Corner such a success in a short space of time.
Brewery Corner: 29 Parliament Street, Kilkenny.
(Picture from Facebook)
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.
Ireland's biggest festival of craft beer returns to the RDS for a third year, expanding to a four-day event, beginning on Thursday 5th September and running through to Sunday 8th. The expansion of Ireland's beer scene is reflected in the line-up, with 22 Irish craft beer companies represented and over 100 beers available for tasting, including a large number of new and special editions. Expect new lagers from Whitewater and Trouble Brewing, the first barley wine from Carlow Brewing and a limited edition Amber Ale from Eight Degrees. Moonbeam from Metalman Brewing will be making its triumphant return for the autumn season and Galway Hooker will be debuting a coffee porter.
The festival will mark the first public appearance of Brú Brewery from Co. Meath. Other newcomers include Kinnegar, Donegal Brewing, Black's of Kinsale, Five Lamps, Galway Bay, JW Sweetman and Mountain Man. There will also be five artisan cider makers, two independent whiskey companies and a select range of imported beers. Accompaniment to the drinks will be provided by seven different food stalls and a sequence of live musical acts. Both the Ireland v. Sweden game on Friday and the hurling final on Sunday will be shown live.
There is no better opportunity in Dublin to meet Ireland's craft brewers and try Irish beers that can't be bought anywhere else. For complete information, see the festival website.
Beoir members get €5 off admission on production of a valid membership card.
The week beginning Sunday 1st September is Irish Craft Beer Week, culminating in the biggest annual celebration of Irish craft beer, the All-Ireland Beer and Cider Festival at the RDS from Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th September.
Farrington's pub in Dublin's Temple Bar will be hosting a number of events in the early part of the week. On Monday at 6pm the National Homebrew Club will talk about brewing your own; on Tuesday at 6pm it's the turn of Ireland's only qualified beer sommelier Phil Tavey to share his knowledge; while on the Wednesday evening at 7pm the subject turns to whiskey and Irish craft distilling.
Best of all, pints of Irish craft beer are on sale for €4.50 for the duration of the week.
Come along and say hi!