The Beoir awards have been running annually for over a decade now. It is the only beer awards scheme in Ireland voted for by the drinkers ourselves and the integrity of the system is a vital part of how it works. Winners can know that their beer stood out on its own merits, purely for how good it tastes. Although Beoir in 2023 has over 300 members eligible to vote, we received an insufficient number of ballots to identify the usual trio of winners. As a result, Beer of the Year and the runners-up will not be awarded this year.

That's not to say that there was no useful information produced. Though no individual beers stood out, there were several breweries in contention for our best brewery prize, and indeed one outright winner. Beoir is happy to announce the new holder of the Oliver Hughes Award for best brewery:

2023 Oliver Hughes Award for Best Brewery:

Land & Labour

Land & Labour was established in 2017 and is a project of Tom Delaney, head brewer at Galway Bay Brewery in Oranmore, Co. Galway. Its beers are fermented using wild strains of yeast, sometimes spontaneously, and aged and blended in the Belgian tradition. Distribution tends to be very limited, to specialist beer shops, bars and festivals around Ireland and abroad, which makes it especially noteworthy that so many Beoir members found them and remembered them when it came time to vote.

Three beers in particular received high marks:

  • Saison de Coupage: a blend of fresh saison with a three-year aged version.
  • Bière de Rhubarbe: a spontaneously fermented beer aged for a year on Irish rhubarb.
  • Crimson: two spontaneously fermented beers, one aged on cherries, the other on raspberries, blended to create a Belgian-style kriek/framboise mix.

Unlike other breweries where high turnover of new beers is an important feature, Land & Labour's output is purposefully slow, and the painstaking manner in which they're put together shows in how they taste. Although wild and sour beer of this sort is no longer the exclusive preserve of Belgian brewers, it's no casual trend either. We expect new Land & Labour beers to continue to arrive, though only a few per year.

For anyone interested in further exploring this fascinating new aspect of independent Irish brewing, the Mullingar Wild Beer Festival is the best place to do it. The second edition of the festival will take place on Saturday 22nd April 2023 at Smiddy's Bar, Mullingar, from 2pm. Tickets are now on sale.