The tenth annual Beoir beer awards took place during January, with members voting on their favourite beers of the previous twelve months. No shortlists, no style guides, no expert judges: all winners were picked solely on the basis of how much the drinking public enjoyed them. Beoir members made their selections from all the beers brewed on the island of Ireland and commercially available during 2020 and a total of 86 different beers received commendations. From these, the top three were selected for prizes, and the brewery with the highest overall score received a separate award.
After a month of voting, the result was as follows:
2021 Beer of the Year
Around the Clock
an imperial stout by The Porterhouse, of Dublin
This year, for the first time, the Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland held their own awards programme with each member brewery selecting a champion from their range and putting it before a panel of their peers. The Porterhouse's new imperial stout was the inaugural winner, and follows that victory with Beoir's Beer of the Year trophy for 2021, this one voted by the customers.
Around the Clock makes use of ex-bourbon and sherry barrels from The Porterhouse's sister distillery, Dingle. A complex recipe and highly involved slow brewing and maturation process has resulted in a beautifully smooth and elegant sipping-strength beer. This brewery has built its reputation on 25 years of excellent stouts and it's good to see that it isn't resting on its laurels.
Guardian of the Galaxy
a double black IPA by Wicklow Wolf, of Newtownmountkennedy
Imperial stouts and double IPAs are regular fixtures in these awards: big and memorable beers have a natural advantage in such competitions. This beer, created in collaboration with DOT Brew, combines elements of both. While dark and roasty, there's plenty of hop dankness, bitterness and citrus fruit.
Black IPAs have fallen out of fashion somewhat in recent years, and double-black examples are rarer still. The high marks achieved by this one show that the style has a lot going for it, and the drinkers would be quite happy for more brewers to give one a go now and then.
an IPA by Kinnegar of Letterkenny
Prestige special editions are all well and good, but for most breweries they don't pay the bills. The reliable flagships are necessary for that, but they tend to get overlooked come awards season. This year, the members of Beoir have opted to give a nod to one regular-production beer that is worthy of a special place.
Kinnegar has been brewing Scraggy Bay since it first began, back in 2013. The Irish beer scene was very different then, and IPAs were still relatively thin on the ground. With the plethora of choice and sub-style variants now available, Scraggy has remained a favourite, especially on draught. Last year saw its transition to cans for the local market, and it managed to retain its status even with pubs closed across the country. The clean classic west-coast grapefruit flavours and modest 5.8% ABV strength are a perfect antidote to the more extreme IPAs out there.
The Oliver Hughes Award for Best Brewery
Wicklow Wolf makes it two in a row, winning the prize for Beoir's overall favourite brewery for a second year. The first runner-up above had a lot to do with that, but its Apex oatmeal stout, and the assorted pastry variations thereon, helped secure the title, as did the return of last year's champion Pointy Shoes. While no strangers to IPAs or lagers, Wicklow Wolf are the undisputed kings of dark beer in Ireland at the moment, as far as Beoir is concerned.
Congratulations to all of our winners and thanks to everyone who voted this year.