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.
- Reuben Gray
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.
- Steve Lamond
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.
On Thursday 23rd March the Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Bill 2016 will have its second stage debate in Dáil Éireann. If passed, this legislation will allow breweries and distilleries to sell their produce directly to the public, revolutionising the Irish artisan drinks industry while also bringing it into line with almost every other country in the world.
Taprooms will increase beer tourism, help stabilise the current industry and attract new players to this tentatively growing field, all across the country. Independent Irish beer makes up less than 3% of the market at the moment; the presence of taprooms will help build that to the level found in fully developed beer markets of around 12-15%.
Since it was first published late last year there has been a small but positive reaction to the Bill. However, some major influencers on the legislative process, including the Government itself, have yet to express an official position. It's entirely possible that those who do not want the Bill to pass are simply waiting quietly for it to be stifled in the Dáil. As it's a private members bill introduced by a Labour Party deputy, there's every chance that that could happen.
And this is where you come in. Contact your TDs, from all parties. Write, email, telephone, meet them at their constituency clinic. Tell them that the Bill is due for second stage on Thursday 23rd. Ask them if they will consider co-sponsoring the Bill: this will give it more time in the chamber and increase its chances of surviving. At the very least ask them to vote for it, and remind them that you will be watching on the day. If the Bill doesn't make it to the next stage, at least you can say you did your bit.
For details of your representatives, see www.whoismytd.com.