This year all the Irish Craft Brewers were present again. There were lots of nice beers to be had so we tried some out in the morning before it got busier later. I had some White Gypsy Dark Lager which I liked very much, it's a slightly less full on version of their Bock. Still caramely and rich but a bit easier to get through. Also making an appearance again this year were the guys from Tig Bhric in Kerry. This time they brought their Cul Dorcha beer which I liked. A dark chocolate porter, I really like Porter and we don't get enough of it here at all. I also had a taste of Whitewater's Belfast Black, it's a new stout. I heard from someone it was a dark lager but it's a stout. I've had a few black lagers recently like Brewdog's Zeitgeist and think it's a great summer drink. I liked Belfast Black it's a solid uncomplicated stout. My favourite on the day was Carlow Brewing's Goods Store IPA, it's fantastic, really refreshing and hoppy. I think my taste buds like floral grassy hops at the moment and this really hit the spot.
The Porterhouse. Hence the smiles from Grainne and Sean.
Hophead is the first run off The Porterhouse's shiny new bottling line. It's really hoppy and citrus tasting in the bottle. I like the hot pink label and the attitude on the bottles. It reminds me of Brewdog and Wychwood with their challenge to the drinker. Advertising your tradition and Irishness as a craft brewery here doesn't seem to work. You want to pitch it to those people who want something different. Make it cool then maybe the rest of the people will follow. After a days evangelizing craft beer to the nation a few of us headed off to The Bull and Castle. Many thanks to Aidan and Ronan from Galway Hooker shouted us all a round. They are great guys and they make a smashing beer as well with it.
Sunday dawned sunny and bright. Dave had promised to help out at David Llewellyn's Double L Cider stand as they had been crazily busy on saturday. Most of the brewers had restocked and brought in extra people for the day and the queues weren't as bad. Some of the ICB people changed their hats and became bar staff at various points in the day. In the morning Sean Billings one of the founders of ICB gave a talk on how to get started in brewing. I used his articles to get started and I know lots of people on ICB have too. I didn't get to hear the talk as I was still manning the stand. Grainne and I talked to many people including one very polite Russian journalist who inquired if our husbands had got us into brewing. He was very nice about it but we put him straight.
I did sneak away for a talk on Beer and Cheese. There was a cheese stand in the beer tent selling tasty Irish cheese taster plates. But I wanted more cheese, you can never get enough cheese! Dan Fennelly and Dean McGuinness gave the talk. A plate of cheese was handed out then we were handed the various beers which were paired with four different cheeses. I looked around at the start and there were a few embarrassed looking people who had eaten all their cheese before the guys had even started talking. Didn't they realize what a tasting was about? Or maybe they just wanted the free food.
The pairings were Durrus and Galway Hooker, Glebe Brethan and Rebel Red from Franciscan Well and also with Porterhouse Hophead, St Gall with Hilden Cathedral Quarter, Bellingham Blue with Whitewater's Clotworthy Dobbin and also with Chimay Blue. Dan Fennelly had some great information on cheese and some really nice tasting notes. I loved all the cheeses especially the Bellingham Blue, I would usually go for Cashel Blue but I'll try this one in future now too. Dean McGuinness who I knew from Movies and Booze on Newstalk talked about Irish beer and the great quality and flavour you can get out there. My favourite pairing of the day was the St. Gall with Cathedral quarter, together they were different and better than they were on their own. It was a great fun talk involving two of my favourite things.
The bars were under siege for the day and the food stalls were really busy too. I got a fabulous lamb tagine pie from the Gallic Kitchen. I paired it with a lovely fresh cold glass of Galway Hooker, thanks to Aidan for the pint! A great weekend was had by all. It was great to see so many people sitting outside having some Irish food with fresh Irish craft beer. Events like this are great in changing the image of beer and drinking. It shows it can be about sensible drinking with good food and about taste rather than quantity. I was really impressed that there were lots of women sampling the beer as well. Women are completely ignored by large beer companies and it's nice to see craft brewers don't ignore half the population. We can only hope all the people who came will go out and buy Irish beer and ask for it in their pubs. Then we'll see real changes. I'm sure Septemberfest will be back next year with even more breweries present. Looking forward to it.