For the fourth year of its existence, Beoir has run a competition to find Ireland's favourite beer: the one the drinkers enjoyed most and want to see more of, and more like it. Every beer brewed and sold on the island in the past year is eligible, and previous winners have included Franciscan Well's Shandon Century Stout and Metalman Pale Ale.
With the explosion of new breweries in 2014, the field was bigger than ever and a total of 128 different beers from all over the country received votes from their fans. It was a very close run contest but even from early on, three beers in particular stood out amongst the pack.
2015 Beer of the Year
The Full Irish
an IPA by Eight Degrees Brewing, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork
As has become tradition at this stage, a new arrival took the top prize. The Full Irish was introduced at the 2014 Franciscan Well Easter Beer Festival to immediate acclaim. Its name comes from the 100% Irish grain bill, using malt supplied by The Malting Company of Ireland which, like the brewery, is based in Co. Cork. Where this India Pale Ale really shines, however, is in the hopping. Generous use has been made of American varieities Ahtanum, Centennial, Citra and Amarillo, giving a punchy 65 IBUs and lots of grapefruit and tropical fruit aromas and flavours. Since the first outing at Easter the beer has appeared several times and is now available bottled as well as on draught. It's a beer to drink fresh so if you have any in stock, toast its success now!
an imperial stout by The White Hag Brewery, Ballymote, Co. Sligo
Not only a new beer, but a brand new brewery in second place. The White Hag, and Black Boar in particular, caused a seismic ripple when it set up stall at the Irish Craft Beer & Cider Festival in the RDS last September. Even at the opposite corners of the hall, beer enthusiasts were passing around glasses of the unctuous imperial stout, speaking in hushed reverential tones. Brewmaster Joe Kearns earned his chops stateside and has brought plenty of that American nous to this beer. At 10.2% ABV it's an uncompromising stout, but wonderfully smooth with that, avoiding the heat and harshness that strong beers like this sometimes have. Many a Beoir member can testify to its dangerous drinkability. While officially only produced for export, we'd like to thank the brewery for letting the occasional keg roam free locally.
Of Foam & Fury
a double IPA by Galway Bay Brewery, Galway City
Proof that its gold medal last year wasn't a fluke, Of Foam & Fury has held its ground on the awards podium for a second year. 2014 saw it available outside the brewery's pubs for the first time, in a bottle-conditioned format. And while we understand the detail of the recipe has changed a little, it's still as weighty, warming and fruity as ever it was.
Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all the Beoir members who took the time to vote.