I’ve just returned from the Irish Craft Beer and Cider Festival in Dublin and what a great festival it is. Organised by Beoir who champion craft beer throughout the land the festival is held in the RDS every November. Unlike the Belfast festival, which is organised and run by CAMRA NI with the bar in the middle of the Ulster Hall, the Dublin festival has brewers themselves pouring the pints around the hall’s perimeter. Forty-eight breweries, cider makers and whiskey distillers were present in Dublin, all ready to pour and wax lyrical about their creations.
One obvious change to the festival this year was the introduction of half pint glasses. All entrants were presented with a mini glass upon entry and I have to confess, it was a great idea. Beoir’s chairman Reuben Gray told me it was to encourage customers to try more beer while also promoting sensible drinking. I’m sure it was more cost effective too – maybe something for the CAMRA NI guys to ponder for future Belfast Beer festivals?
With more than 150 beers available to try over the three day festival there was only going to be a small number than I could sample during my 5 hour stay on the Saturday. Every taste was catered for in the hall, from O’Hara’s Blackberry Lager to White Hag’s Black Boar 10% Imperial Oatmeal Stout. Oh yes, let’s talk about that stout. It was highly recommended to me on Twitter on the Friday night and I was hoping and praying that it wouldn’t be sold out by Saturday afternoon. So as soon as Mrs W and I arrived, we made a beeline for the White Hag stall. And goodness me the oatmeal stout was sublime. Smooth and slightly chocolately but without that initial alcohol kick. I say ‘initial’ as it started to kick towards the end of the half pint. This is most definitely an occasional beer – for obvious reasons!
Another quality brew of note was Rascal Brewing’s Ginger Porter. At 4.8% abv it was smooth on the tongue but when it hit the back of the throat the ginger came into force. Now I love ginger – and lots of it – so I was not disappointed when this lived up my expectations. A blend of smooth porter with spicy ginger taking hold a second later. Fantastic.
One massive benefit of having the brewers pour their own beer is being able to chat with them about the brews and their business in general (I’m a nosey sort, see). So thanks to the brewers and brewsters I bored talked to, especially the guys at Mountain Man, Metalman and Kinnegar.
Next year we’re staying the night in Dublin so I’m not held ransom to Translink’s last train home (8.50pm!) – that’ll allow us more time to try a greater selection of the fantastic beer on offer from all four provinces of Ireland.