With the festive season upon us, several Irish microbreweries have released winter beers for the dark evenings.
For the second year in a row, Eight Degrees has a dark spiced beer called A Winter's Ale. This is 7.5% ABV and available bottled and on draught. The spices are a special blend provided by the Green Saffron spicery.
Also in its second year is Dungarvan Brewing Company's Coffee and Oatmeal Stout, this year showing off the brewery's new label design. Flahavan's has provided the oatmeal, and the coffee comes courtesy of Badger & Dodo roastery. It's 4.7% ABV and available in bottle and cask.
From Franciscan Well comes a very special Stout Aged in Jameson Whiskey Barrels. This is 7.8% ABV and available only in 1 litre bottles, though is expected to make an appearance on cask at the Franciscan Well Cask and Winter Ales Festival (15-17 February). The edition is limited to just 900 numbered bottles.
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without White Gypsy's Yule Ól making an appearance. This dark red ale is unspiced but shows lots of warming depth. 6% ABV and available bottled.
Exclusively on draught there's Carlow Brewing Company's Winter Star. In place of the more typical Christmas spices, this 5% ABV ruby ale has coconut and orange peel added for a completely unique flavour profile.
Finally, Whitewater Brewery has launched its Christmas seasonal Sanity Claus in bottles this year, for the first time. This is 4.5% ABV and brewed with a small addition of cinnamon and nutmeg to add a little festive spirit.
All are available wherever good beer is sold in Ireland. Be warned, however, that stocks are strictly limited and supplies of some may be running short already.
Subscriptions and renewals are now open for the membership year 2012-13.
Membership costs €10 and runs until 30 June 2013.
All funds go towards the running of Beoir and its campaigns, as decided by the members themselves.
To formally pledge your support to craft beer and cider in Ireland, sign up here.
John - TheBeerNut
Beoir Treasurer 2012-13
The European Beer Consumers Union, of which Beoir is a constituent member, has written to the CEO of the world's largest brewer, AB InBev, expressing concerns over the company's business practices. The letter from EBCU chairman Henri Reuchlin to ABI's Carlos Brito (full text here) notes that the multinational brewer now controls 30% of the world's beer market and appears to be further intensifying pressure on its competitors. ABI now has worldwide business interests in hop growing, as well as packaging, distribution and retailing. It is obvious how this level of involvement in the entire supply chain can have a knock-on effect on the consumer as other brewers are given less preferential treatment or locked out of the supply chain altogether.
EBCU has noted in particular the creation of ABI's "disruptor company" ZX Ventures which, as well as buying up previously independent breweries in Europe and abroad, has interests in the media, bars and home brewing. ZX made headlines recently when its investment in RateBeer came to light, and it is particularly concerning that this revelation was more or less accidental: ZX is under no obligation to reveal where its business interests lie. EBCU executive member and beer writer Tim Webb has written more on the ZX situation here.
Though ABI does not operate directly in Ireland, employing C&C Gleeson as its agent, Beoir fully agrees with EBCU's position that the company's activities are a matter of grave concern, for both smaller beer producers and the consumers who drink their products. At the very least, the management of AB InBev need to be made aware that their activities are being watched. EBCU will continue to report on the consolidation activities of all multinational brewers to help keep consumers informed via its news page at EBCU.org.
It's heartening that so many of the winners of the 2013 Irish Restaurant Awards are familiar from the Beoir Directory and app as stockists of beer and cider from Ireland's small independent producers. Over the last ten years we have seen a major change in how the nation views and values food, with a consequent rise in the quality and range of what's on offer. Though the beer revolution is newer and faces tougher competition from bland mass-produced products, it's clear that the food sector is an important ally, bringing tasty local produce to the market, both on a plate and in a glass.
Congratulations to all the winners, but especially the five gastropub champions: The Brewer's House (Donaghmore), The Purty Kitchen (Dublin), Eat @ Massimo (Galway), The Derg Inn (Terryglass) and Harte's Bar (Kildare), all proving every day that beer and food belong together.
In fact, with awards for "Best Cocktail Experience" and "Best Wine Experience", isn't it high time there was an Irish Restaurant Award for "Best Beer or Cider Experience"?
Voting has closed on the 2012 Beoir Beer of the Year Awards.
We are delighted to announce that Shandon Century Extra Stout from the Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork City has been chosen as the Irish beer drinkers' favourite beer for this year.
Second place was awarded to Windjammer, an amber ale produced by Metalman Brewing of Waterford, and third place also went to Metalman for Metalman Pale Ale.
Congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone who took part in the voting.