10 October 2014

Just for the one

My guilty final post covers all the exhibitors at the Irish Craft Beer and Cider Festival from whom I only took the time to try one beer, even though all had plenty on offer.

An exciting new beer from the excitingly relocated Galway Hooker Brewery first. Bán is another special created for Tigh Neachtain in Galway City. A 4% ABV wheat beer doesn't sound terribly exciting, but this was one of my festival highlights. I reckon celery; Steve reckoned asparagus, but either way there's a gorgeous fresh and crunchy vegetable thing going on here that I loved. A touch of pepper and it would be perfection.

Staying pale and interesting, Kinnegar had a new saison, called Swingletree. The aroma is powerfully, deliciously, cider-like, and while it's definitely beer on sipping it has a similar cleanness to a certain type of pale cider. It's one of those palate-reset beers so important to have at a festival like this.

Whitewater were showing off a new lager: St Donard. Bit of a butterscotch bomb here and not in the same league as their Cloughmore Granite at all. I had better luck with Barrelhead Blonde, a modest 4.5% ABV but single-hopped very generously with Centennial. The aroma is worth the price of admission alone: billows of floral meadowy perfume. There's more of that on tasting, as well as a cheeky squirt of lemon zest, for balance of a sort. A classic, and hopefully we'll be seeing more of it.

Brasserie Castelain had a footprint at the festival as a prospective importer tested the water. I missed the chance to drink my favourite-named beer of the weekend: their pomegranate-infused Jade Grenade, but did get to try plain Jade, a 4.5% ABV blonde ale which wasn't very impressive, showing bursts of butter and nail varnish remover. Some fruit would definitely have improved it. Or an actual grenade.

We'll go out on a stout, and Connemara's Independent Brewing had one of the very few barrel-aged stouts on offer. Remember when they were all the rage? Independent Whiskey Stout has been aged in Bushmills ex-Madeira casks but still retains a luscious chocolate and coffee stout flavour. Pleasingly there's loads of whiskey to it as well: honeyish, plus the sweet boozy fruit traces left behind by the fortified wine. A beer to sip while wandering off into the night at the end of another successful festival.

Cheers to Bruce, Seamus, Carly, Andrew and all the volunteers who put the whole thing together, and the brewers and their crews for giving us a reason to be there. Every year the question is asked "how will it continue?"

Never mind. It will continue. It has to. See you next September!


  1. you missed out on the kinnegar blackbucket? shame, one of my highlights of the weekend, but then i missed half of the white hag stuff :(