Since its inception, I’ve attended Alltech Craft Brews & Food festival as a blogger bar one year. It has continued to grow from strength to strength, alongside the Dublin Craft Beer cup. It’s an event that recently deceased Alltech founder, Pearse Lyons was incredibly proud of. And rightly so. This year was bigger, louder & even more energetic than previous years. But this year, I wouldn’t be wandering around the Dublin Convention Center as a blogger. This time, I’d be the otherwise of a bar at the event in my role as Irish brand ambassador for Scottish brewery, BrewDog. This blog post is my journey through the looking glass at this event.
Porterhouse Brewing is one of those craft beer companies in Ireland that I feel rarely gets enough kudos for their beers. They’re like the bastard-red-headed-step-child of the Irish Craft Beer scene, & frankly it’s an insult to them, their history in Irish craft beer & the fact, when they do a special beer, christ do they make a special beer. And their latest one, I’ve a sneaking suspicion that within the next week, it may earn them a cease-and-desist letter from one of the largest food companies on the planet.
In life, it is the simple comfort food that often emanate from your childhood that bring you to your happy place when you need it most. For me, it’s simple things like sausage, egg & chips, or beans on toast. But, there’s one that for me trumps everything, chunky bitter orange marmalade on toasted & buttered Irish soda bread. It for me is the ultimate guilty pleasure & comfort food. So, when one brewery in Ireland declares they’ve knocked this out in a beer, I’m deeply curious.
2017 was the year of the murkbeer, much to my chagrin. But, I think this year may be the very year non-alcoholic (NA) beers from craft producers will appear in larger numbers. The signs are there. Diageo/Guinness releasing ‘Pure Brew’ may prove to be the tipping point for craft brewers to try take their ability to really innovate on flavour into this space that atypically is bland, uninteresting & often utterly dissatisfying.
It’s that time of the bastardin’ year again when after many IPA’s, stouts, Imperial beers, sours & every special-batch-infused-with-something comes about & beer writers/bloggers/podcasters/video makers hand out their favorite imaginary award for ‘Best of the year’ in a flurry of aplomb, praise & thankfulness. And, HopAddiktion.com will be no different; hop torpedo’d on top of that bandwagon, riding it til the wheels fall off.
In Autumn 2014, BrewDog joined forces with legendary German brewer, Weihenstephan to release an ‘India Pale Weizen’, which was effectively a hopped up wheat beer. It was like a beery fanta orange on the nose, & in my view it was a really out there beer-style hybrid. Here we are in late Autumn 2017, three years later, & BrewDog have released another IPW, this time on their own called ‘Nine to Five Wizard’. Is this deja-vú, or a time-turner moment a-lá Harry Potter from Ellon?
BrewDog are a growing international business that’s come a fairly long way from ‘two-men-and-a-dog’ in a small industrial unit in Fraserburgh, Scotland. As they’ve grown to international markets, Ireland has become one of their biggest markets for sales of their beers. It seems only fitting a beer with an Irish-twist that wasn’t a stout was on the cards.
I have a very love/hate relationship with Galway Bay’s beers since the departure of Chris Traynor for pastures new in the Sound of Music of Heidi-land. Their regular beers have remained steadfast, but their special beers in general I have not liked at all. Their previous table beer (read: session beer), ‘Via Maris’ which came from the second-runnings of ‘Of Foam & Fury’ to me was always just an exercise in Brewery economics that tasted like it. So when they introduce a session/table beer that’s 3.8%, AND it’s a New England Style IPA, my expectations were subterranean, let alone rock bottom. I’ve never been happier to be so wrong, even with a huge Man VS Food-style serving of humble pie to eat in that error of judgement.
Ruination from Stone in my humble opinion (okay, so maybe my opinions aren’t very humble) is still one of the best DIPA’s in the world. But Stone being Stone, like Spinal Tap know where eleven is on the dial, & like to amp up Ruination to a tripel in the form of RuinTen as their tenth anniversary of Ruination. It has since made a few returns , each a full-on sensory assault of hops & barrels in double digits ABV. Orange peel? Vanilla bean? Are Stone going soft?
Craft beer drinkers are one of the single most spoiled consumer groups out there in Ireland right now. We’ve new beers appearing at what feels like every week that we can try, discuss, cogitate, digest & ruminate on. You’d be forgiven for thinking that craft brewers get arough deal in this, but every craft beer drinker I know has ‘go-to’ beers. Including this hopped up, opinionated assjockey of a beer blogger.
Kildare is proving to be a hotbed of microbrewery growth. Rye River, Kelly’s Mountain, Kildare Brewing Co., Two Sisters & Trouble Brewing. Trouble Brewing has been a stalwart of the craft beer scene in Ireland for seven years, with favourites such as ‘Deception’, ‘Dark Arts’, & ‘Sabotage’. But Trouble Brewing in 2017 is a very different animal beer wise & under its third revolution with former Bo Bristle brewer Dave Guilfoyle taking over the reins from Mark Nixon, who left to head up brewing at Hope. The third act of a story is typically meant to be the high point, & with the beers coming from their Kill facility today, Trouble are showing no sign of let-up.
Double IPA’s are probably my favorite beer style. The first one I ever had was Stone Brewing’s Ruination. It’s a beer that despite it’s change has remained a firm love of mine. One of my biggest gripes in our market for a number of years has been the lack of Double IPA’s I can put hands to & the ones that did exist were in the most part to me, very uninteresting. But that was then, this is now & we have a choice of Double IPA’s that makes this hopped up sonuvabitch … well, a happy sonuvabitch. I recently say down to crack into four of the latest ones to hit our market & give them a try.