I say this often, but it is very true – beer writers/bloggers are a fortunate & incredibly lucky lot when they get invited to events to cover them, receiving incredible levels of hospitality from event organisers & attendees alike. And this year’s AllTech Craft Beer & Food event was no exception. So, on the final day, Saturday I headed down to check it out as a media guest of the organisers.
Very often as beer writers attending events, we instantly jump straight to talking about the beers. But in this instance, I think I’d be remiss in not talking about the excellence of organisation, & presentation that AllTech’s team showed. And for this article, I’ll be focussing on the event itself rather than the beers, which I’ll deal with in separate articles. I remember the first AllTech event, & my how it has grown up. There was a fantastic mix of locally produced beers, along with imported brands that are in the Irish market. The catering selection for the event was also really solid.
Having experimented with craft beer & sushi over the last two years, it was great to see my favorite sushi company in Dublin, J2 in attendance, along with my favorite popcorn company – Cornude, whose popcorn is not only addictive, but a super accompaniment to craft beer. I am pretty certain I could pair every single popcorn in their range with a craft beer. And it would be a pleasure.
The strength of the event, its organisation & management is truly a testement to the hard work, planning & tightly-run teams at AllTech. The media room as always is so well put together, so well run & set-up for those of us to get away to gather thoughts, talk with fellow media attendees; with snacks, finger food & a fridge full of beers from the exhibitors. We were a spoiled, & pampered bunch of attendees.
“Our three-day festival is about celebrating the craft brews industry, and it gives us an opportunity to showcase what Ireland has to offer,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, founder and president of Alltech. “It is more than just a craft beer festival; with craft cider, craft spirits and craft wine, there’s something here to tempt all taste buds.”
During the event, AllTech announced a new division of their business; AllTech Beer Division Ireland (ABDI), which if I’m not mistaken almost looks like it is the result of an acquisition of Vanguard Beer Collective if I do a side-by-side of their portfolios. And when you compare the ABDI’s portfolio to those in attendance, fourteen of the forty-three of the breweries on show are in that portfolio.
One of the best things at this event was having cup rinsing stations at the event. This really makes a massive difference. However, one suggestion I would make is having a system in place for exhibitors to do this at their stands or between stands.
One of the important things about the event is of course, the awards most notably the Dublin Beer Cup & the Dublin Cider Cup. With many breweries who were also exhibitors picking up awards, it’d be easy to claim that with ABDI in place, it looked like a show of favoritism.
As on onlooker via Twitter on Friday evening as the awards were taking place, I found myself confused by the ‘Dublin Beer Cup’ & ‘Dublin Cider Cup’ winners; neither of which were sold in the Irish market.
The judging panel for AllTech is made up of independent tasters from around the world headed by Dr Gearoid Cahill, who himself is a twenty year veteran brewmaster of upstanding character who is so supportive of independent beer/cider producers, & is the European Director of Brewing science for AllTech, having done the bulk of his industry time in Diageo.
This year over 370 beers and ciders competed for the cup, but there was as always one delcared winner from the 28 person panel; Saison Witbier from Horizont of Hungary that took home the top prize at the Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair. Taking home the Dublin Craft Cider Cup was Classic Pear Cider from McCashin’s Brewery of New Zealand from their Rochdale Brand.
“In the past, stout beers have reigned supreme in The Dublin Craft Beer Cup; we are now seeing the highest quality challenges from other beer types,” said Dr. Gearóid Cahill, head judge of The Dublin Craft Beer Cup and director of brewing science at Alltech. “It was nice to see a new, refreshing wheat beer take top prize this year.”
There was an impressive range of ciders as well, spanning sweet, dry and even barrel-aged varieties. “We also had some complex ciders with a range of fruit ingredients,” said Cahill. “The Irish cider producers impressed the independent judges with their overall quality; however, New Zealand swept the board with the only two gold medals, both awarded to McCashin’s Brewery.”
Irish Brewers took home a veritable haul of medals from the event as category winners:
And winners wasted no time taking to social media & on their beer pumps at the event to show off their hauls:
With all the medals dished out, some fantastic food, beer, cider & spirits available, #AllTechBrews trending top five on social media in Ireland over the course of the event, friendships caught-up on, new ones made & more people introduced to whats on offer outside the standard fare in the bars & off-licenses across Ireland, the event is definitely cemented as a ‘must-attend’ for anyone who just enjoys the social aspect of a good beer, good bants & an all round good time.