Guinness X Timmermans

Beer samples

The Open Gate Brewery Tap Room has been on the go for quite a while now but I visited it for the first time on Thursday evening. Padraig Fox had mentioned that something a little bit special was going to be happening with some Belgian beers and invited me along. My knowledgeable friend Séan Lightholder also happened to be over from America at a work conference in Dublin. Séan has been known to enjoy the odd pint of Guinness but is no fan of Belgian beers, something to do with the taste of the yeast…I on the other hand am a bit of a Belgian brew enthusiast. We started off with a paddle of Open Gate Belgian Style beers, a Saison, a Dubbel, a Tripel and a Belgian IPA. Surprisingly Séan enjoyed most of them. We agreed that they were all very good with the exception of the IPA, we found it too bitter, astringent and a bit lacking in aroma.

Then it was time for the main event. Peter from Open Gate and Thomas from Timmermans introduced their beer. It is a blend of West Indies Porter, Oude Kriek and Special Export Stout. We got a brief history lesson too, apparently Timmermans is the oldest Guinness distributor in the world and they were also instrumental in formulating the recipe for Special Export Stout.

Samples of the blend were given out in very elegant Timmermans glasses. I have to say we felt very classy indeed. The beer itself was darn tasty. It clocked in at 6% and was quite light, I think I was expecting something more viscous. Still, the cherry chocolate combination worked well. A real dessert beer. There were some delicious Belgian chocolates on offer and they complimented the beer excellently.

I finished off the evening with a glass of the Tripel and some frites. It was a very enjoyable event, the vibe was cool and the company was good. Sláinte!

*I was an invited guest. But as unbiased as ever.

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A meaty one…

Consider the blog retitled Simon Says You Really Should Eat This or Simon Says Meat for this post. I was at The Big Grill last week and am only back to normal now. I was there for the full four days and helped to set up and take down the Rye River bar. I had attended the event for the preceding two years but this was my first time manning a bar. On day one I drove home and just tried some food from the excellent Kinara and Mikkeller’s 0.3% Drink’in the sun.

On Friday I was able to give the Rye River special brew Big Smoke a proper try. We only brewed two kegs of this Rauchbier and it went down a treat with the smoked brisket from Tesco’s Fire Pit.

I didn’t get to visit a lot of the bars at The Big Grill but I had heard several beer fans recommending the Dot brews. I asked for half a Pint Please. Oh how we laughed. In my head anyway. Lovely sessionable 3.1% fruity Ale.

I had a break from all of the meat with Jess Murphy from Kai’s beans on toast. It was tasty but unfortunately didn’t quite meet the pinnacle of beans on toast regularly prepared by my wife…with plenty of tabasco and goats cheese.

Mario Portella quarted a whole Dexter cow and cooked it overnight over his open fire pit.

And the results were divine.

And I also tried some smoked goat…which was a new one for me. It wasn’t my favourite but it was certainly interesting and worth trying. I had a drop of McGargles Daragh’s Session IPA to accompany it.

Brewer Brent and I enjoyed our Cranky Yankee Corn Dogs…Man, I missed out on these all summer up to this point! Nick is a legend!

I had heard great things about John Relihan’s Smokasa and the burger did not let me down. The man’s passion for cooking with fire was infectious.

I also enjoyed Brewtonic’s brilliantly named Relax The Cacks Session IPA.

Our neighbours Metalman were pouring a very quaffable special Pitmaster Pale.

And Richard tempted me over to his Black Donkey bar with the promise of some fresh Savage Pale Ale brewed with Wild Irish yeast. Until next year, sláinte!

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On Saturday all roads led to Ballymote for White Hag’s fourth birthday bash. A few even arrived by rail and by air. There was a great buzz outside as we waited to be let in.

Inside I picked up a glass and tokens and was greeted by Barry, a Galway based Cicerone trained server who had volunteered to help out at the event. I wet my whistle with a drop of the rather tasty Black Pig Stout from White Hag. Man, that lad can pour a beer like nobody’s business!

I met Twig from Canvas outside the main doors. He was delighted to be pouring his first commercially available beers at Hagstravaganza. I tried Raspberella, a lovely light and fruity Ale, this brewery is one to watch.

I stuck with fruity low ABV beers for my next one, Malmö Brewing Co’s Berrybarb Pie which was a Florida Weisse (yeah, new one on me too) with Raspberry, Rhubarb and Vanilla. It was nice and tart, lovely colour too!

I met lots of my beery brothers and sisters, brewers, bloggers and general beer lovers and we had mighty craic.

Irish craft beer festival

I went for Wild Beer’s Geuze Style Blend 18 after that…a cracking beer but the best fun was hearing everyone trying to pronounce ‘gueuze’ correctly! I went a bit more mainstream then with Cloudwater’s DDH Pale Citra. It tasted a bit boring after the full on taste workout I had just put my palate through so I’ll have to try that one again someday to give it a fair shout.

The two piece were providing some rather pleasant background noise in the form of a rake of Neil Young covers. No complaints from me on that score.

It was time to up the proverbial ante so I turned the dial up to 10% with Northern Monk’s Moobing On Up. As many of us present were sporting well cultivated moobage I’m sure this was a popular choice.

I took a wee break then for a burger and some water. I may be getting sensible in my old age. I finished off with the Galway Bay Uliltje collaboration brew, High Viscosity, a Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout with Stroopwaffles. It was delicious, chewy, malty and soupy. All of the pours were 150ml which meant that I was not messy at all. I had to make my excuses and leave the festival then, but not before picking up a take away bottle of White Gypsy’s Scarlet and a couple of Noisy Nuts. I headed in to Sligo to meet up with my family in the Swagman where I enjoyed some chicken wings with a pint of Kinnegar’s Crossroads.

And then I met some friends from the Midlands who were going to a gig in the Model arts centre. Fuzzy Hell and Woven Skull played very memorable sets and I had a couple of cans of White Hag’s Little Fawn to complete the evening. Fair play to the team involved in organising this year’s Hagstravaganza. It should be noted that I was an invited guest of White Hag. Looking forward to Hagstravaganza 5 in 2019. Sláinte!

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So #MCBF18 happened.

Woah! Some parts of my body are a bit sore but that’s just because I had a great time at yesterday’s Midlands Craft Beer Festival.

Craft Beer Festival in Don's Bar

We had a nice variety of breweries from the just starting out Wide Street Brewing to the somewhat more established St. Mel’s Brewing. Wide Street were pouring samples of their delicious Saison which was brewed with black lime if I remember correctly.

The dress code was ‘cherries’.

The only currency that mattered were the beer bucks printed up by our friends in Studio 93. Keep an eye out for a video shot by Darren at the festival.

Oisin Foley had the crowd in the palm of his hand with his fun magic tricks. Then Eamon Hatton and friends took to the stage and blew us away with the blues.

Ger Costello brought his White Rhino IPA which had a lovely pineapple flavour and aroma. He also had a brand new Lager brewed with spelt which was very tasty.

Joe had a fun day pouring the fantastic Miami J. It was very well received by the beer loving crowd.

Midlands Beer Collective were pouring the last kegs of their excellent American Style Brethern Brown.

The lads from St Mel’s are festival stalwarts having been at every event in Moate. They are already looking forward to the 2019 festival. Their Helles Lager went down a treat.

Dead Centre have come a long way in the 12 months since they launched at last year’s bash. They’re looking at opening their Athlone brew pub before the year is out. The best of luck Liam!

Don had an offering of pizza, burgers and, my favourite, loaded fries!

Eamon hopped up on stage with Toxic Twins and they made some musical magic together!

Dan Kelly’s Cider was very refreshing in the warm evening. Thanks due to Olan for helping us out with cider at the 11th hour too!

As night fell so did the giant tower of Jenga.

We had a good crew back to my house where we enjoyed a post festival whiskey and a really great breakfast cooked by my amazing wife. Thanks to everyone who helped out, thanks to Don and Lisa for everything and thank you for coming out. See you there next year! Sláinte!

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Cirque de BrewDog

BrewDog’s Cinematic Circus took place in Weston Airport yesterday. It was the first major event they’ve put on over here and I was invited along as a guest. Fallen Lights were playing as I landed at the airport. They performed a crowd pleasing selection of covers with the odd original tune thrown in for good measure.

My first beer of the evening was Third Barrel’s appropriately named Strawberry Airfields, a Strawberry and Black Pepper Farmhouse Ale. It was lovely and summery.

Next up was BrewDog’s Jet Trash, a very drinkable West Coast IPA. I also enjoyed a pulled pork bao bun. Perfect street food.

I met up with several of my fellow beer aficionados. And I was instructed to try YellowBelly’s Tin Can of Emotion. It’s a 10% Double IPA. I misheard the name as Tin Can of Emulsion. Which wouldn’t be unusual from those crazy Wexford cats. But thankfully this sticky and sweet IPA tasted nothing like paint.

In a rather cheeky move I borrowed an Equity Punk pass to visit their special bar to try the special Mallow Mafia. It was an epic 12% Imperial Stout that nailed the marshmallow flavour. I tried the new Overworks sours and really liked the peach one. All of this supping was done with the somewhat unsettling film The Shining being shown on the cinema screen. The consensus was that this was a bit of a strange choice. One alternative suggestion was The Big Lebowski, keep it in mind for next year lads!

I finished up with Dog G, an even bigger Imperial Stout that clocked in at a whopping 17%. I actually preferred the more sessionable Mallow Mafia which was the beer highlight for me. I left before the Circus of Horrors and I’m kind of glad I did. Apparently one of the performers stapled a playing card to his scrotal sack. Ouch.

It was a very enjoyable and well organised event. Thanks for having me along. Sláinte!

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