Beoir performed the judging at the 2018 Cask and Strange Brew Festival in Cork which takes place at the Franciscan Well each year. The judging was performed on Saturday, January 27th between 1pm and 5:30pm and 30 beers were judged in total on the day. I should say that not every beer at the festival could be judged, only those that were available to judges on Saturday during the judging period. Most beers that were running out on Thursday and Friday were bottled for judging but some were missed. Likewise, a few beers were not tapped until after judging was complete but overall, these winners represent the best beers available on the day.
We also had some audience interaction this year. I performed a talk on how to judge beer to seven audience members. Six of these stuck around to help judge the Strange Brews category. The strange brews category included everything in the specialty category and also any kegged beer that was on. They judged the available beers at that time which totaled five out of the eight beers entered in that category. I'm happy to report that our fledgling judges managed to pick the same top three beers as our experienced judges up until this point.
So now to the results. The overall top three beers were announced on Twitter that evening.
Category Winners 2018
The act of including the kegged beers in the competition led to an interesting result. Only two kegged beers were entered and because there were a number of joint places, 8 beers ended up in the final instead of 5, one of which was kegged.
It's worth saying that even though the winning beer was actually served from a keg instead of a cask, I think the judges agree that it probably would have won if it were served on cask anyway. In fact, it would likely be even better on cask.
The beer is simply stunning and 9 White Deer deserve all the credit for brewing it. It's officially called Imperial Stag and it's a whopping 13.5% beer that was brewed as a 75 litre pilot batch. I think it's safe to say that this will now be scaled up to a full size batch. You can read more about the beer here.
When you think of great beer cities in Ireland, you wouldn't normally include Limerick in that list but things have changed significantly in Limerick. We just had the Beoir AGM there last Saturday and were met with a very warm welcome. Craft beer aside, there are some fantastic pubs there and now with local Limerick beer available in many. While specialist craft beer pubs are short on the ground, the ones that are there are doing an admirable job.
Mother Macs and the recently opened Wickham Tap are flying the flag for not just Irish Craft Beer but especially local Limerick beer such as Treaty City. Both pubs do serve regular macro beer too but they are both biding their time until that's no longer necessary.
Treaty City Brewing themselves went above and beyond by providing us a wonderfully entertaining and informative brewery tour thanks to Stephen.
What makes Limerick so special? We really needed to be there to understand it but Limerick seems to lack a lot of the big chains that have blighted many Irish cities. Everywhere you look there's a local café or bakery. A local barber, local pub, local shop. The only big chain coffee shop we noticed was in the train station, although I believe there's one other somewhere in the city. I'm sure there are plenty of other examples of big, foreign chain retailers in the city but the area we were in was all about the local community. The biggest chain of anything we saw were a number of pubs called Flannery's which is only a chain in the sense that they are run by the same family. However they are run separately by different members of the family.
What does such a close community do to promote local craft beer and local pubs? They join forces and brew a community beer.
The night before the AGM, the beer was launched and Beoir members tried it on Saturday morning while visiting Mother Macs, before the AGM started. It was a very good beer too.
Here’s some of the press release surrounding the beer:
The beer is the result of a unique collaboration between the publicans of the Market Quarter and Treaty City Brewery.
Developing a beer from scratch is a long process that includes extensive research and numerous tasting sessions.
The result is the creation of ‘The Market Quarter Beer’, a light beer with a floral, citrus hop aroma.
“The Market Quarter beer is slightly floral and fruity with a medium malt flavour. It is an incredibly drinkable session beer low in bitterness and light in colour” explains Stephen Cunneen of Treaty City Brewery.
Not only is the beer unique, but the way it was developed is unique. It began with the Market Quarter publicans discussing the potential for a common beer, which would be exclusive to their pubs only. The publicans then met and discussed what could be done with Stephen Cunneen of Treaty City Brewery and a partnership was formed.
This is the first time this sort of approach has been undertaken anywhere in Ireland. It caters for traditional drinkers and craft beer enthusiasts alike.
James Lennon, Chairperson of the Market Quarter described the launch of the Market Quarter Beer; “We’re delighted with the launch of our Market Quarter Beer. It’s something that has brought us all together as a group. People are looking for a different drink experience, we can see that in the expansion of the craft beer and gin market. Customers want something more authentic. Therefore, we have developed this beer and want our customers to experience a new brew that’s interestingly delightful, and most importantly 100% Limerick made. We have loved creating it so we hope that you will love tasting it!”
The pubs where the beer is available are as follows.
Saturday 22nd April saw the judging take place for the first ever Champion Cider of Ireland. A team of five expert judges from across the UK and Ireland deliberated on almost 40 ciders from 20 producers entered into five categories to assess which ciders deserved recognition. Ten ciders made it through to the final round but only one could be crowned Champion Cider of Ireland: for 2017 that cider is Tempted Dry Cider!
Davy Uprichard, a first generation cider-maker with 8 years experience based in Lisburn is rightly pleased with his cider’s success: “I knew my cider was good - it’s won plenty of awards before but to receive this award on my home turf and beating a lot of other cider-makers who I respect makes it more meaningful.”
As well as winning the competition Davy took home three other awards with the dry cider coming best in category, Tempted Elderflower awarded best fruited cider and Tempted Sweet took second place in the non-dry category.
Runner up and best non-dry cider was awarded to the Cider Mill’s Cockagee keeved cider. Mark Jenkinson said of his awards “What a great weekend, chuffed with 3 wins in inaugural Irish Cider Championship. A big, big thank you to Beoir and all the organisers and judges for holding such a professional and proper cider competition.” Mark’s Cockagee Perry was also awarded best perry.
Third place overall went to newcomers Johnny Falldown. Founder Barry Walsh said “We're very happy with result ourselves, as there was clearly a lot of quality on board”
The competition was organised by Steve Lamond, Cider Liaison Officer for Beoir, the Irish Beer Consumers Association. “I wanted to showcase the breadth and depth of ciders available on the island of Ireland and give the recognition to those producers that is well overdue. I’m really with happy with how the day turned out, a big thank you to all of the entrants and judges who helped to make it a success - we’ll certainly run it again!”
Susanna Forbes, one of two lead judges alongside Pete Brown said of the day “It was a pleasure and a privilege to judge the first Champion Cider of Ireland competition. Quality overall was commendable, with a few exceptions. Beoir are to be congratulated on this positive initiative to welcome entries north and south of the border. As it becomes further established, I’d welcome seeing further cider makers in the competition in future years.”
Beoir Champion Irish Cider 2017
Champion Cider of Ireland
1st Tempted Dry Cider
2nd The Cider Mill Cockagee Cider
3rd Johnny Falldown Cider
Llewellyn's Dry Cider Frizzante 2014
1. Tempted Dry
2. Llewellyn's Frizzante 2014
3. MacIvors Dry
1. The Cider Mill Cockagee
2. Tempted Sweet
1. The Cider Mill Cockagee Perry
2. Llewellyn's Frizzante Perry 2014
1. Tempted Elderflower
2. MacIvors Plum and Ginger
No overall winner chosen but all 4 entries highly commended for efforts.
Dan Kelly's Whisky Cask
The Cider Mill Ice Cider
Johnny Falldown Pommeau
The event was kindly hosted by the Wine Rack, Stewartstown, which hopes to stock all of the winning ciders.
The third Beoir: Champion Beer of Ireland Competition took place at the Killarney Beer Festival on Saturday May 27th. The judging of 142 beers started at 10am with most of the rounds finished by 5pm. Then the international judges got together with all of the eight best of category winners to decide the top three. Those international judges were: Melissa Cole, Des de Moor and Tim Webb from the UK along with André Brunnsberg from Finland, Jan Lochota from Poland and Carl Kins from Belgium.
Here are the full results.
Beoir Champion Beers of 2017
1. 200 Fathoms - Galway Bay
2. Róc Modern Pills - White Hag
3. Black Boar bourbon barrel aged - White Hag
Honourable Mention: The Púca - hibiscus and ginger sour
1. Goats Butt - Hillstown
2. Friar Weisse - Franciscan Well
3. Arrow Weisse - Elbow Lane
1. Two Hundred Fathoms - Galway Bay
2. Hook Baltic - Arthurstown
3. Porterhouse Oyster Stout - Porterhouse
Honourable Mention: Joe - Coffee Porter - O Brother
1. Hook Amber - Arthurstown
2. The Fixer - O Brother
3. Achill Dillsc Red - Achill Brewing
1. Smart Ass Saison - Boghopper
2. Swingletree Saison - Kinnegar
3. Boyne Brewhouse Saison & Spailpín Saison - Killarney Brewing
1. The Púca Hibiscus and Ginger - White Hag
2. Wayfarer Sour IPA - 8 Degrees
3. Castaway Passionfruit Sour - Yellow Belly
1. Róc Modern Pils - White Hag
2. Achill Lagered Ale - Achill Brewing
3. Vienna Lager - Boyne Brewhouse
Honourable Mention: Elbow Lane
1. Black Boar - Bourbon Barrel - White Hag
2. NEIPA - Wild Bat
3. Coconut Porter - Independent
1. Little Fawn - White Hag
2. The Chancer - O Brother
3. Citra Pale Ale - YellowBelly
Honourable Mention: Althea - Galway Bay
Honourable Mention: Boyne Brewhouse IPA - Boyne Brewhouse
The results are also posted on the competition page at the moment.
Beoir welcomes the news today that the Labour party are to introduce a Bill aimed at boosting craft-beer tourism in Ireland by removing the major regulatory barrier for breweries, microbreweries, cider makers and distilleries.
The Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Bill 2016 would allow these businesses to sell their own produce to tourists and other visitors on site. Currently, a brewery manufacturer’s licence only allows them to see in excess of about 19 litres which is too much for the average consumer.
Beoir has been campaigning for this measure for a number of years, most recently in our pre-budget submission. This will open up a new level of consumer choice and really help our tourism sector. Brewery and distillery tourism is on the rise all around the world and we see especially potential for tourism in the cider producer sector. This will be a great boost to rural Ireland which is where most cider producers are located.
We are happy to work with breweries, cider producers, and government if we can help in any way from a consumer standpoint.
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