Lovin’ Loverbeer in Dublin

Back in the middle of November, a unique beer festival took place in the Italian Quarter. Organised by Wallace Wine Bars, Quartiere In Fermento was a small festival celebrating the artisanal beer scene in Italy.

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Unfortunately I had to be on my best behaviour and limit myself to only four glasses of beer as I had a charity event to go to that evening. So given this constraint, what else could I try but Loverbeer.

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The piedmont brewery specialises in sour beers, with about a dozen in its range. The Piedmont brewery’s located about 40 minutes outside of Turin and unlike the neighbouring vineyards, it welcomes spontaneous fermentation with open arms. The brewery was set up by Valter Loverier (hence the “Loverbeer” name) in 2010. Valter was on hand at the festival to introduce his exceptional beers.

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The suggested order for tasting the four beers he brought was to commence with Dama Brun-a, which is extremely tart and tannin-laden barrel-aged brew. An Oud Bruin in style, it had pleasant similarities with Rodenbach. Next up was plummy Beer Brugna that while sour, it had a dark fruit subtle sweetness. Then it was on to BeerBera, a wild brew that is fermented with Barbera, the iconic grape of the region. This grape is used to create big, powerful Piedmont reds and it doesn’t disappoint in this beer. Finally, with taste buds already beginning to wane due to indulging on glasses of the sours, it was time to up the ante for my last beer from the brewery and indeed my last one at the festival. The time had come to taste Papessa, a 7% abv sour Russian Imperial Stout. This was the perfect beer to finish on as the dark chocolate-laden beer complimented the fruits in the previous three that had taken up residence on my palate.

It was great to try these beers in the company of Valter and here his take on each one. These beers and all those at the festival will be making appearances in the Italian Quarter restaurants (either in bottles or on draught). Look out for them!

It’s coming back – Alltech Craft Brews & Food 2015

It’s coming back! The Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fair, Ireland’s largest international craft beer festival, will make a welcome return to Dublin’s Convention Centre for three days from Feb. 27 through to March 1, 2015. This will be the third time Alltech has hosted the event, which this year welcomed more than 6,000 visitors who tasted a range of craft beers from more than 45 brewers from 18 countries around the world. This is one festival that I make sure I take time off to attend. The launch party took place last week in Sam’s Bar and it was great to be asked to be involved.

Pumpkins featuring prominently at the launch event
Pumpkins featuring prominently at the launch event

“For years Ireland has been synonymous for brewing and rightly so,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, founder and president of Alltech. “Budget 2015 has seen an increase in the annual excise relief production ceiling for Irish microbreweries from 20,000 to 30,000 hectoliters. Craft beer in Ireland is paving the way by providing local employment and it continues to make inroads into foreign markets. There is a craft beer revolution going on right here in Ireland and what better way to highlight that than by showcasing some of Ireland’s finest local craft beers side by side with some of the world’s finest?”

The event also includes the prestigious Dublin Craft Beer Cup competition, which allows craft brewers to showcase their beers. After two days of blind tasting by a panel of independent industry veterans, top brewers will receive gold, silver and bronze medals in eight different categories of beer, establishing the best examples of each style. The Dublin Craft Beer Cup boasted more than 300 entries last year, and it is expected that 1,000 beers from around the world will be entered into the competition this year. International brewers are invited to enter their craft beers for The Dublin Craft Beer Cup on the fair’s website. Closing date for entry is Feb. 15, 2015.

Hilden's Twisted Hop & the Russian Imperial Stout won the first 2 Dublin Craft Beer Cups
Hilden’s Twisted Hop & the Russian Imperial Stout won the first 2 Dublin Craft Beer Cups

Winner of the 2014 Dublin Craft Beer Cup, Anders Coisbo from Coisbo Beer in Denmark, received phenomenal success following his win at the 2014 Fair. “It has been a fantastic year for us. Winning seven medals at the Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fair, including the overall winner, and a further nine medals in the United States. I am very proud that our beers are being so well received, both at home and abroad.”

Craft brewing and distilling is a rising trend not only in Ireland but the world over. According to Aidan Sweeney, Ireland’s only independent beer sommelier, “we are in the midst of a craft beer revolution here in Ireland. I’m excited to see Alltech Craft Brews return in 2015, and by the time the third incarnation of this event arrives in February 2015, I predict the craft brewing landscape will be flourishing.”

Tickets are now on sale from €15 from the Fair’s website. All tickets will include four free drink and food tokens, a souvenir glass, and free entertainment. They’re available online via the fair website, eu.alltechbrewsandfood.com, ticket agent Entertainment.ie and can also be purchased at the door. Doors open to the public at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27 and at noon, Saturday, Feb. 28 and Sunday March 1, 2015.

Be sure to join the conversation on Twitter using @alltechbrews. At this year’s event, I circulated my top tips for enjoying a beer festival. It’s a useful source for finding out what’s coming up (ahead of the festival) but also finding out what’s happening when you’re at the festival and what beer’s you absolutely shouldn’t miss.

Top beer festival tips as chosen by you

Ahead of the Irish Craft Beer & Cider Festival this year, I circulated my top tips to enjoying a beer festival. The organisers ran a competition to win tickets for the festival where people had to choose their top tip from the list. The following are the top 3 tips for enjoying a beer festival as chosen by you.

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 Talk to the brewers

Get to know their story, their inspiration and where the beer comes from, it can give you an added appreciation of the beer in your glass. Who says that wine can be the only one with terroir!

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Don’t ask, don’t learn

Confused about beer, don’t know what a IPA is or what hops do? Ask. Beer festivals aren’t just for beer nerds like me (don’t worry there’ll be plenty of us at the festival) and don’t feel intimidated by other people asking fairly intense questions. Brewers are more than happy to talk to you because they want to win you over and gain new customers. Feel free to tell them what styles you like and let them suggest beers to try. You might like them and when the festival returns, you might be the one asking those tricky questions.

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 Sample before you buy

Festivals are a time to discover something new as well as reacquainting yourself with old friends. It’s not in the breweries interest if the only beer you try from them is not for you (they may have plenty of other that do) so don’t be afraid to ask before you buy. It’s also a great way of getting to learn about different styles and tick off a number of the beers at a festival.

 

The Irish Craft Beer & Cider Festival – Back for a Fourth Year

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13,000 people are expected to converge on the RDS over the next four days (4-7 September) for what is the highlight in Ireland’s beer calendar. With over 40 breweries in attendance and at least 150 beers on offer, this is biggest festival to date. It’s literally growing in tandem with the beer scene in Ireland. There’s at least 12 breweries making their festival debut. Who knows, additional space might be required in future years and there’s ample space in the RDS to grow in to. If you haven’t got a ticket, there’ll be an opportunity to pay in at the door.

This year there’s a slight change in the serving sizes. Gone will be the pint glasses. Apparently feedback from last year’s festival was that festival-goers were more selective in their ordering strategies, favouring halves in order to try a number of different beers rather than having a pint of a few. The glasses will be more stylish by all accounts. There’s reports beers over 7% abv will only be served in thirds.

Some initial observations on the line-up so far are:

Making their festival debut: 9 White Deer Brewery (Stag Bán); Black Donkey Brewing,(Sheep Stealer); Blackstairs Brewing (Ruby Red IPA); Costellos Brewing Costellos Red); Independent Brewing (Pale, Gold, Red, Stout, Coffee Stout, Vanilla Stout, Barrel-aged stout & Cherry Red); Jack Cody’s Brewery (Puck Pilsner, Smiggy Amber Ale); Kellys Mountain Brew (Justice Pale Ale); N17 Brewery (Rye Ale &Oatmeal Stout); Rascals (Big Hop Red, Ginger Porter, Wit Woo & Lemon Saison); Rye River (Granny Mary, Knock Knock Ned, Fancy Frank’s Lager & Cousin Rosie Pale Ale); Stone Barrel (Boom, Red Mist & Day Trippin); and White Hag Brewing (Fionnabhair, Tuireann Bán, Fleadh Ale, Beann Gulban, Meabh Rua, Black Boar,10.2,Stout and Samhain)

Year of the IPA & DIPA: Barrelhead I.G.A (6.8% abv); Black’s Black IPA (5% abv) & Topaz Smash DIPA ((9% abv); Blackstairs Brewing Ruby Red IPA Bo Bristle Brewery,DIPA,(7.7% abv);  Brú Rí (5% abv); Eight Degrees Hurricane IPA (5.8% abv); Galway Bay Full Sail (5.8% abv), Goodbye Blue Monday (6.6% abv) & Of Foam & Fury (8.5% abv); O’Hara’s Hop Heavy (5.5% abv); Mountain Man Crazy Horse (7.5% abv); Rye River’s Knock Knock Ned (6.5% abv); Trouble Brewing Chasing The Dragon DIPA (8% abv), Oh Yeah! (5.8%), Sabotage (5.5% abv) & Vietnow (5.5% abv) and White Hag Tuireann Bán (6.2% abv).

It’s festival saison: Black Donkey’s Sheep Stealer (5.5% abv); Eight Degrees’ Nelson Sauvin Saison (7.4% abv); Franciscan Well’s Rosemary and Clementine Saison (7% abv); Galway Bay Mare Incognita (4.8% abv) & Holocene (7%); Kinnegar’s Swingletree 7% abv); Rascals (Kim Jong Lem-Un 4% abv) but don’t miss out on White Gypsy’s Bière de Garde.

Wheat beer aplenty: Barrelhead Weiss (5.3% abv); Carlow’s,Curim Gold 4.3% abv) & O’Hara’s Dunkelweizen (5% abv); Metalman Alternator (4.5% abv); Trouble Brewing’s Fuzzy Logic (4.7% abv); and White Hag Brewing Fionnabhair (5.2%)

The wild card: That must go to O’Hara’s Wild Side, which is a 9.6% abv barleywine. Wait didn’t they have a barleywine last year? Yes but this one is different.

What’s this in the beer?: O’Hara’s are putting blackberry into a lager, as well as mango and honey into a wheat beer. Honey is also a feature of Whitewater’s Bee’s Endeavour.  Rye’s a useful spice as well as adding dryness to a beer so try Kinnegar’s Rustbucket & Black Bucket and look out for the spiced orange characteristics of Eight Degrees’ Simcoe Rye Ale. Ginger appears in a porter (Rascals) and Metalman’s Chameleon Ginger but Metalman’s not finished yet and who knows what’s going to be in Mystery#1 & Mystery #2 and try their smoked ale, Chameleon Smokescreen.

Coffee & Oatmeal if you skipped breakfast: Franciscan Well Coffee Porter; Galway Bay Goodbye Blue Monday; Independent Coffee Stout; and N17 Brewery Oatmeal Stout; and last but not least, White Hag’s Imperial Oatmeal Stout, weighing in at 10.2% abv.

Autumn’s upon us: 5 Lamps Tenters Nut Brown Ale (5.5% abv); Brú Autumn Ale (5% abv); and White Hag Samhain (6.2% abv).

Seeing double without the hop extremes: Five Lamps’ Mystery Brew (6.5% abvl) and White Gypsy’s Doppelbock (7.5% abv).

Make a political statement with your beer: Do you favour Scottish Independence? You’re your support with Eight Degrees’ Alba Abú.

And now for something completely different: Last year there were a few collaboration brews but given this is the All-Ireland Craft Beer & Cider Festival, we can try something that is a collaboration between Black’s of Kinsale and Stonewall Cider. It’s an India Pale Cider. Oh, it’s at 16.9% abv.

Opening times

Thursday, September 4th – 5pm till 10pm

Friday, September 5th –  2.30pm till 12.30am

Saturday, September 6th – noon till 12.30am

Sunday, September 7th – noon till 8pm (showing both the GAA Hurling Championship and Ireland v Georgia)

For the rest of July the outlook is bitter

The Porterhouse is back with its latest festival. This time it’s the IPA Festival, which runs over ten days in July starting on Thursday. With predictions of a heat wave on the way, what could be beer than a festival celebrating pale ales and IPAs.

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The festival will see many familiar beers putting in an appearance on their rolling bank of guest taps such as the erstwhile citra-packed Torpedo from Sierra Nevada, its archetypal Pale Ale and Ruthless Rye. Founders’ All day IPA, Centennial IPA and its Pale Ale will be there, along with Flying Dog’s Pale Ale and Snakedog IPA. England will be represented by Camden Town Brewery and Thornbridge. Camden, like Founders has been making inroads into the Irish drinking-scene in recent months and its Pale Ale will be served. Derbyshire’s Thornbridge will be represented by its black IPA Wild Raven, the stunning Jaipur, the Nelson Sauvin infused Kipling and Chiron, which is wonderful when fresh. Festival goers can also expect to taste Twin Peals, its collaboration brew with Sierra Nevada. Rumours are circulating that Hippocrates’ Purge, a summer ale with elderflower and Spanish orange blossom honey will be available on cask. Italy will be represented by much-acclaimed Birra del Borgo (My Antonia anyone?) and ReAle will be putting in an appearance. Irish variants will consist of Eight Degrees’ Full Irish (in the running for Beoir beer of the year) and Galway Hooker.

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Some of the most eagerly awaited beers will be from Yorkshire’s Magic Rock Brewing brewer of the excellent Cannonball (think pine, tropical fruits and some sweetness), their flagship IPA but also look out for their double IPA (Human Cannonball) and triple IPA Un-human Cannonball, which is released annually. During the Porterhouse festival, customers can experience the following beers from Magic Rock Brewery on cask: Ringmaster (3.9% original pale ale); Carnival (4.3%, golden summer ale); and Great Alphonso (5.6% Mango pale ale).

It wouldn’t be a Porterhouse festival without them launching a special brew. However, Dublin Pale Ale is not just a festival special but a new regular offering for their five Irish bars and their London and New York outlets.  It’s styled as an “Irish-style pale ale” (one of those descriptors that provokes debate amongst beer geeks). So what’s it like?

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Dublin Pale Ale pours clean and clear copper, an appearance that is very much at home in The Porterhouse Temple Bar. It’s earthy with light citrus notes on the nose. The carbonation is typical of kegged pale ales. It’s in the taste and the finish that this beer gets started. Notes of orange and lemon meld into a dry biscuit and an assertive bitter finish. At 4.2% this would be a good session full-bodied beer for hopheads looking for an Irish bitter equivalent of an All Day IPA (minus the pine). This beer is the sibling of Hophead, which is described as a beer “beyond the pale” and hopped with Cascade and Centennial. Dublin Pale Ale, however, is billed as a beer “within the pale” (even though it’s going to be available across the group) and it’s hopped with European varieties, namely Styrian Goldings and the high-alpha acid beast that is Admiral. Hopefully they’ll go on to produce a cask version of this beer.

No doubt this festival will prove popular. Let’s face it hoppy beers sell. I have no doubt the new beers on offer will be in high demand but also the festival will give us the opportunity to be reacquainted with old-favourites as fresh as possible.