Since 2012, Beoir has been calling on its members to choose their favourite beers from among all those brewed on the island of Ireland. Though the brewing scene is now unrecognisable compared with then, great beers still stand out and, due to our unique selection process, get counted. Without nominations, shortlists or any other prompting, members vote in secret for their personal top three. From the marks awarded, Beoir's Beer of the Year is chosen, along with two Runners-Up and the brewery which scored highest amongst all of its beers is also commended.
Exactly 100 Irish beers received some level of preference from voters. Here are the results:
2022 Beer of the Year
Flora and Fauna
a double IPA by Western Herd, of Kilmaley
Double IPA last featured in the top slot back in 2018, with drinkers' heads being turned by barrel-aged imperial stouts in more recent years. But while there's been no shortage of big and black numbers on the market, there's also a west coast revival in full swing, with both brewers and drinkers turning to the clean and highly bitter IPAs that made California and Oregon famous among beer lovers.
Flora and Fauna is 100% in that vein. Its use of ten different hop varieties in the kettle and for dry-hop is no gimmick. They give it the necessary punch of pine and citrus, while the significant ABV (9.45%) gives it the gravity and gravitas to balance the hop explosions. A first batch last summer was followed by a new one at year end, and there ought to be more to come. Get it while it's fresh!
We Still Got It
an imperial stout by Galway Bay Brewery, of Oranmore
Of course, barrel-aged imperial stouts aren't being eschewed by drinkers by any means. Galway Bay were among the first to make a name for themselves in this genre, with Two Hundred Fathoms first released back in 2014. They've been honing the craft ever since, and this is the latest result.
Time is an important factor in the barrel ageing process and this one received a three-year maturation in rum casks. It finished at 13.8% ABV and exhibits a warming rum character with plenty of sweet oak vanilla. Classic stout notes of caramel and chocolate add to the sweetness, but commentators have also noted a lightness of touch; nothing cloying or sticky. Dare we describe such a flavour powerhouse as balanced?
an IPA by Kinnegar of Letterkenny
We return to the west coast, literally and stylistically, for the final prize. This is Scraggy Bay's second year running in this slot. It proves that it's still possible to impress, even with an everyday flagship beer, one that's been a constant presence on the Irish beer scene since 2013, as long as the beer is of impeccable quality. Scraggy Bay is. It's one with an intensely loyal following, but which also continues to pick up new fans.
The squeaky-clean grapefruit flavours found in Flora and Fauna are present here too, but much more restrained and balanced; a tickle rather than a punch. And at 5.8% ABV it's also possible to drink more than one at a sitting. The brewery is on course to open a taproom in Letterkenny in 2022 so the prospect of drinking Scraggy at source is closer than ever.
The Oliver Hughes Award for Best Brewery
The White Hag
It's a rare year that we don't have a trophy to give to The White Hag and this year they're the overall brewery pick. No other producer has done more to keep the convivial spirit of Ireland's craft scene alive during two years when pub life and the festival calendar were severely curtailed. They organised several online festivals and established a new community with their Clann membership scheme: an offer that includes a strong social element in with the beer.
Of course, it helps too that the beer is first rate as well. From over a dozen different ones which received votes from members, Festa Nuda imperial stout and Fionn double IPA were particular favourites, with their Black Boar imperial stout also still wowing the audience. This is a brewery that knows what people like.
Congratulations to all of our winners and thanks to everyone who voted this year.