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)

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