Throughout the month of January, Beoir members voted on the best beers of the previous twelve months. The aim is to find the nation's favourite Irish beer -- not the most true-to-style or technically adept, but the one that the drinkers enjoyed drinking most of all.
Every beer brewed on the island of Ireland and available commercially during 2013 was eligible. From a field of hundreds, 85 different beers received some sort of preference from at least one drinker, crossing styles from pale lagers and weissbiers to spiced porters and imperial stouts, produced by breweries of all sizes, multinational industrial and local microbrewery alike.
In the end, three beers came out as the consistent favourites, making the results unusually clear cut.
2014 Beer of the Year
Of Foam and Fury
a double IPA by Galway Bay Brewery, Salthill, Co. Galway
Remarkably, this beer only arrived on the market in late November 2013 and distribution was limited to the brewery's own pubs in Dublin and Galway, though a bottled version is now available in good off licences. A massive 8.5% ABV might suggest this is not for the faint-hearted or lily-livered but it's a masterpiece of the brewer's art, drawing out fresh flavours of peach and nectarine from the hops alongside the more assertive acidic grapefruit. Its strength isn't exactly hidden -- this is patently obviously a strong beer and to be savoured not slurped -- but the alcohol is put to good use as a carrier of flavour and is not simply there for its own sake.
an amber ale by Eight Degrees Brewing, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork
An instant hit with fans when it first appeared on draught at the 2013 Irish Craft Beer and Cider Festival in Dublin last September, Amber-Ella has since been made available in bottled form. The hops are a carefully chosen combination of Australian varieties: Galaxy for its jaffa and tangerine fruitiness, and Ella for a sharper, spicier edge. While the hoppiness is at the level one would expect in a pale ale, this has been given a darker malt base, adding a richness which complements the hops rather than hiding them. Originally a limited run, a second batch of Amber-Ella will be available very shortly.
Metalman Pale Ale
by Metalman Brewing, Waterford City
Though brewed for the first time a mere three years ago, Metalman Pale Ale has firmly established its place as a regular beer for the discerning Irish consumer. It cemented this position by claiming the Beer of the Year in 2013, and while it has moved aside for newer releases this year, it still beat off stiff competition from a host of other pale ales new to the Irish market. For those who have not yet made its acquaintance, Metalman Pale Ale is a 4.3% ABV session beer created with Cascade and Summit hops. Crisp citrus is the centrepiece and it manages the difficult trick of combining complex flavours with easy drinkability. It's available nationwide, on draught only, for the moment.
Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all the Beoir members who took the time to vote.
Kentucky-based brewer and distiller Alltech returns to Dublin this February for a second beer festival, following the first last July. Once again, Convention Centre Dublin is the venue and once again an international competition will be held to find the best beer in show, to succeed Hilden Brewery's Twisted Hop as the holder of the Dublin Craft Beer Cup.
For the consumer there will be beer on offer from new Irish brewers such as Rascal's, Stone Barrel, Black's of Kinsale, Brú, Mountain Man and the Independent Brewing Company, as well as several familiar favourites plus a range of international beers. Sheridan's cheese, Keogh's crisps, Bretzel bakery and the Burren smokehouse will be among those providing food matching options.
There will be live music, talks, tastings, and of course the rugby will be shown on Saturday afternoon.
The event is split over two public sessions, on Friday 7th from 5pm to 9pm and Saturday 8th from 12pm to 9pm. Admission to each costs €15 which includes a festival glass and 4 beer tokens. Click here to buy tickets.
For full details and updates, see the festival website.
A special for Christmas, The Good Craft Brewery Guide is a concise summary of Ireland’s emerging small scale brewing industry, it outlines the stories behind Ireland’s emerging craft brewers and details the styles and flavour characteristics of their beers.
Tim O'Rourke, the author of the book has reduced the price of the book for Christmas. It now costs €4 for Beoir members and €5 RRP for non members.
Please note that we do have to charge for shipping in Ireland at this price so if you can collect in person, that might be better.