A great bunch of lads in Brussels

Killshot in Cantillon

It’s been about 20 years since I was in Brussels so when the lads in Galway Bay Brewery proposed a weekend trip I didn’t hesitate to sign up. A few of our Belgian beer loving friends joined us too. Most of us caught a very early flight on Friday morning. Bags dropped off we headed straight for Cantillon. This was my first time here and I think it’s fair to say we made a decent dent in the bottle list. Having only enjoyed the odd taste from this brewery before this was a very enjoyable experience. The Grand Cru Bruocsella was a particular favourite of mine.

L’Ermitage brew pub

A short stroll took us to a much more modern enterprise. L’Ermitage is a small brew pub where I enjoyed their Saison along with some cheese and sausage. We were made feel very welcome here so it was hard to move on, but press on we did!

Foeders in 3 Fonteinen

3 Fonteinen Lambik-O-Droom was our next port of call. This was quite a different experience to Cantillon as it was much more modern, having been rebuilt after an incident in 2009. Our tour was excellent and we learned about the brewing and blending operation. And we thoroughly enjoyed trying the various blends.

Het Boerenerf Eylenbosch

Our last brewery of the day was Het Boerenerf Eylenbosch. This is a nano brewery on some of the land that was the site of a much larger operation until the 60s. Senne’s growing some of his own hops and cherries and has most of his barrels stored in a lovely old barn. You can also get ice cream here so this is one for the whole family!

De La Senne Zenne Pils

The next day we headed for De La Senne after brunch. We worked our way through the menu with the Zenne Pils being fierce popular.

Brussels Beer Project

Brussels Beer Project were holding a Chantier (building site) party in their very nearly completed new brewery. The place was packed and the atmosphere was fantastic. We enjoyed the flash tour too.

The crew in Bar Du Canal

We headed for dinner in Bar Du Canal. It was mostly (very good) small plates and wine (which I don’t talk about). But it made a change from the beer.

De Biertempel

Sunday was relatively relaxed with a quick visit to De Biertempel to pick up a few bottles. And then it was time to head home. We’re already planning our next trip! Sláinte!

Bromance – it’s a thing!
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Bier & Big, Eindhoven

Drinker’s pub, Eindhoven

This isn’t a beer post. Not really. I mean there was beer had alright but…anyway, the point is, I was at my first beer festival on the continent in quite a while. Bier and Big has been running for a few years in Eindhoven. And Galway Bay Brewery were pouring at it. Myself and my colleague Steve landed early on Friday and dropped off our bags before a stroll around the town. We visited De Bierbrigadier which is a great off license, stocking 600 plus different beers and ciders. We wanted to visit Van Moll but it didn’t open until 3pm so we spotted the Drinker’s Pub and passed a bit of time there. When we did get to Van Moll I was impressed with the range of draught beers from across Europe as well as their own.

Lervig Rackhouse barrel aged beer

In the evening we went to Lervig’s unofficial Bier and Big pre party. They were pouring their new Rackhouse barrel aged beers which you can read about in the previous blog post. The event was in an industrial estate, outside, with sand and deck chairs. It was raining so it did feel a bit like Galway! Luckily we were able to shelter under some canopies.

Exciting times: Galway Bay Brewery at Bier & Big!

Bier and Big had 29 breweries from around Europe. It was great to be able to meet and share beers with loads of passionate and friendly people. They’re really into Untappd and as a result we had massive ques for our barrel aged 200 Fathoms and Boulevardier. A few people even said that they were the best beers at the event!

This is how they do pulled pork in Eindhoven

There were a few cool food choices including a Massey Ferguson agricultural machine that had been transformed into a grill and rotisserie. I just had to get some pulled pork on my break.

Some lovely people I met at Bier & Big

The weather stayed good until evening when the rain returned. It didn’t dampen spirits though and new friends were made whilst sharing umbrellas. Bier and Big was a very enjoyable event and it was fantastic to be working at a busy festival. Almost back to ‘normal’!

Het Lagerhuys

The next day we had to fly out of Amsterdam and Het Lagerhuys came highly recommended. (Cheers Marlou!) They had a nice selection of large mixed fermentation bottles but we took it easy with a few of the draught options. And the grub was good too, proper comfort food. Next stop… Brussels (later this month) Sláinte!

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Rackhouse by Lervig

Rackhouse Blue Plate Special

Lervig have been keeping secrets. Apparently they have been working on a barrel aging project since day one and are only now telling us about it! I was surprised and delighted to get an email from Davide Callegari, their Barrel Manager, who said they wanted to send me some samples to try. The program is called Rackhouse. And according to their letter it has grown from ‘a few barrels sitting in the dank basement’ to ‘an 800 square metre area with 600 barrels, foeders, brite tanks and a bottling line where wood and it’s influence on beer is the focus.’ Sounds pretty impressive to me!

I opened Blue Plate Special first. The brewer tells us about growing up in ’80s America and enjoying the Blue Plate Special in the diners. Pancakes with maple syrup, bacon and coffee. He has managed to conjure up the wonderful smell and taste of that classic meal with this Maple Bourbon Barrel Aged Breakfast Stout. It’s rich, sweet, sticky and has a treacle like viscosity. Special indeed.

Rackhouse Canadian Lunch

Naturally lunch follows breakfast so after a water break I got stuck into Canadian Lunch. This one has cocoa nibs, peanut flour and maple syrup added to the Imperial Stout which spent 12 months in bourbon barrels. I think the peanut oil may have affected the ability to form any kind of head here but, no matter, I’m a fan of the resulting flavour. It’s a little like the Reese’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups. So that’s your Halloween candy pairing sorted!

Rackhouse Off The Rack No. 1

Off The Rack No. 1 spent 11 months in Tennessee whiskey barrels. They left this one ‘unmolested’, so there are no adjuncts present. But there is still plenty going on with beautiful vanilla and coconut flavours combining to produce a delicious fudge like Imperial Stout. In hindsight I probably should have had it first! This trio all clocks in around the 14% mark and there’s eating and drinking in them so you should definitely share with a friend. I asked Lervig’s Irish distributor Four Corners if they’d be getting these beers and they said they would ‘possibly be getting a very small amount’ so if you do see them, don’t waste any time, snap them up. Many thanks to Davide and Lervig for this package. And kudos on the cool glassware too. Sláinte!

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#MCBF21 was a cracker!

Well I think it’s fair to say that we were blessed with the weather. The 7th annual Midlands Craft Beer Festival was a hit. The crowd landed early and were fierce thirsty. The lads selling tokens were flat out.

The que for Dead Centre’s Moaterboat

Moaterboat, the Nitro Raspberry Cream Ale from Dead Centre sold out in 22 minutes. They had to go and get the only other keg to satisfy the fans.

Galway Bay Brewery Czech Pils at the Midlands Craft Beer Festival

I was on the Galway Bay Brewery bar pouring the lovely crisp Czech Pils and at the other end of the spectrum 200 Fathoms. It tasted particularly good with the pork filled donut from Ginger’s BBQ.

Ginger’s BBQ Pork Donut Special

Josh from Nitro Ground made me a delicious Cortado to help with my energy level. His Kombucha proved popular with the designated drivers too.

Nitro Ground Cortado, and Josh striking a pose!

Darren Doyle from Studio 93 had a great set up for the live broadcast. Brian Cahill from Craic Beer Community did a bang up job of hosting too. If you want to hear from the brewers click here!

DJ Keith Marshall provided sunny vibes

All that remains to be said is thanks to everyone who came and enjoyed themselves, the brewers: Wide Street, Rye River, Ballykilcavan, Dead Centre and (of course) Galway Bay, Lough Ree Distillery, Nitro Ground and Gingers BBQ. And the musicians Maggie Dunne, DJ Keith Marshall and the bould Bishops Love Sci Fi! Fair play to John, Paul and Derek for their help with the running. Tony did a stellar job on the social media ‘assets’! And Don and Lisa as always for being such great hosts. See you next year. Sláinte!

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Midlands Craft Beer Festival 2021

The 7th annual Midlands Craft Beer Festival is happening on Saturday the 28th of August!

This is pretty exciting! A real live event. In Moate. With beer. Next Saturday we will be having all of the craic from 3pm.

Many of you will be familiar with Don’s Bar beer garden from previous years but, like many of his fellow publicans, he has invested in his outdoor area and there are several cosy pods for you to relax in.

If you are not able to attend in person there is going to be a live stream on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook which will kick off around 5pm. Thanks to Studio 93, Craic Beer Community and Beer Cloud for their help with this.

Moaterboat from Dead Centre will be pouring!

Dead Centre are bringing back their hugely popular Raspberry Cream Ale Moaterboat and an Oatmeal Stout brewed with Kilbeggan Oats, Kilbeggan Chocolate which has been aged in Lough Ree Distillery Barrels. Ballykilcavan are pouring Bambricks Brown Ale, Lineblocker and it will be the first outing for an Amber Kellerbier which is currently called KellerQueen! I will be manning the Galway Bay Brewery taps and I have a keg of the beautiful Bitter Pil and also a small keg of Two Hundred Fathoms with Calendar Coffee Teamwork Espresso.

Two of the Galway Bay Brewery beers which will be available at the festival

Wide Street are bringing the Witbier they brewed with Brendan Views on Brews earlier this year and their new Pale Ale Sound by Design. Rye River will be bringing their Lil’ Bangin’ Session IPA and their new Coastal IPA.

Nitro Ground Coffee and Kombucha will be pouring at Midlands Craft Beer Festival

It’s not all beer though! Nitro Ground are making their debut festival appearance. Josh is bringing some non alcoholic options in the form of Nitro Coffee and hoppy, fruity Kombucha. Lough Ree Distillery are bringing lemon infused vodka and their excellent gin. And BiaSol are keeping the beer business sustainable with their products which use spent grain from the brewing process.

Sourdough baked with flour from BiaSol

There will be live music on the day from DJ Keith Marshall from 6-7pm and Bishops Love Sci Fi take the stage from 7-9pm. Due to the current covid restrictions no one is allowed to dance, so, eh, leave the dancing shoes at home. I have been asked about tickets by a few people. We have decided that there will be no entry fee but instead you may give a voluntary donation to help offset the running costs. Capacity is limited in the beer garden so you would be advised to arrive early to get a seat. See you there next Saturday. Sláinte!

Ps: in an effort to reduce plastic/waste some of the brewers will have glassware. You’ll be able to pay a returnable deposit to use these. Also, please remember to bring cash for beer tokens!

Ginger’s BBQ is coming to the Midlands Craft Beer Festival! 🤤🤤🤤
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