The 13th Belfast Beer and Cider Festival, organised by the Northern Ireland branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, opens at the Ulster Hall on Thursday 22nd November and runs through to Saturday 24th. Over 100 beers and ciders from all around Britain and Ireland will feature during the three days, representing styles as diverse as session-strength blonde ales and lagers, all the way up to scrumpy cider and imperial stout. And everything, or course, will be completely naturally conditioned in accordance with CAMRA guidelines.
For the first time this year, over 30% of the beers and ciders available will come from producers in Ireland. Breweries from the Republic such as Dungarvan, Eight Degrees, Metalman and Trouble will be represented, joining their Northern counterparts Ards, Clanconnel, Hilden, Inishmacsaint and Whitewater.
Highlights from among the English beers available include two from Coniston Brewery which currently holds the Champion Beer of Britain title, and Dark Star's American Pale Ale which was awarded Champion Beer of Belfast at last year's event. Festival-goers are advised to get in early as the most popular beers often sell out by the Saturday evening.
A full beer and cider list, prices, opening hours and the entertainment programme are available at www.belfastbeerfestival.co.uk
Beoir has become the newest member of the European Beer Consumers Union, Europe's umbrella group for organisations which promote beer culture and drinkers' rights. The unanimous decision was made by the delegates of the EBCU's existing member organisations at their most recent biannual meeting in Copenhagen on November 3rd 2012.
The EBCU was founded in 1990 and currently consists of thirteen national member organisations, representing 170,000 paying members. High-profile EBCU member groups include CAMRA in the UK and Zythos in Belgium. The umbrella group provides a platform for campaigning at the European level and its activities include an annual reception for MEPs and production of a manifesto on drinkers' rights in the lead up to the European elections. The 2009-2014 manifesto may be found here; an updated version for the 2014 elections is currently in production.
As a full EBCU member, Beoir now has access to a broad range of campaigning experience from across the continent. We are now able to participate in a shared approach to the problems which face the beer drinker today, not least of which is the ongoing neo-prohibitionist denormalisation of alcohol. And on a symbolic level it is right and fitting that Ireland -- one of Europe's highest per capita consumers of beer -- now takes its place among the organised and united beer drinkers in the rest of Europe.
The EBCU's press release on Beoir's accession is available here.
The Dungarvan Brewing Company has launched a redesign of its branding with the new bottle labels due to hit the shelves in November, to be accompanied shortly by a new-look website.
The Co. Waterford brewery was founded in 2010 and its original design was created to convey a safe, traditional and trustworthy feel. Almost three years on, following a spate of awards and a massive growth in the range of other Irish craft bottled beers available, the brewery has opted to modernise the look. The redesign was undertaken by Cork-based Greenhouse Design and is very much an updating of the Dungarvan Brewing style rather than a total rebrand. The Mine Head lighthouse which has served as the brewery's logo since the beginning still features prominently.
Beermats, glassware and merchandise featuring the new design will also be appearing shortly.
The beer, we are assured, will remain unchanged.
Over the October Bank Holiday weekend for the second year running, Bord Bia has organised a nationwide celebration of Irish farmhouse cheese and craft beer. Over 20 tasting and demonstration events will be taking place around the country, with many pubs, off licences and markets offering the opportunity to try some of the best Irish cheeses with our native craft beers. Formats vary from formal tutored tasting events to casual tasting trays of cheese and beer available throughout the weekend.
Cheese and beer is a natural pairing and represents two products about which Ireland has a great deal to be proud. This weekend offers a great opportunity to explore them side by side.
The events begin on Thursday 25th October and run through until Monday 29th. Details of the events can be found on the Bord Bia website here, as well as the chance to win a craft beer and cheese hamper (closing date 24th October).