An epic sesh in Antwerp!

So we were in Antwerp. And we were going to the zoo. But it was raining. So I said I’d just call in to fellow Midlands man Patrick in Kelly’s Irish Pub for a minute. (The zoo is one side of Central Station, Kelly’s is just the other side…)

I’m not really in the habit of drinking in Irish bars while abroad but exceptions have to be made from time to time. Anyway, I was delighted to be able to order a glass of a local Pale Ale by De Koninck. This one reminded me of some of Black Donkey’s beers, Buck It for instance.

I followed that with a Coronet. Which wasn’t bad at all. Then Patrick finished his shift. He brought me next door to Bier Central and showed me their extensive cellar.

They offer 300 bottles of beer and have 26 on tap.

I chose a Mort Subite from said impressive selection next. A lovely Gueuze.

This tipping in to meet Patrick for a minute was going well.

After an enjoyable time in Bier Central we headed on to Billie’s Bier Kafétaria where I was able to sample the delights of Rodenbach Alexander. On Nitro! It was soft and fruity like a tasty desert.

At this stage my phone had died and so I had to enlist Patrick’s help with the beertography. We also sampled Excuse Me While I Kiss My Stout from Hedonis. Which was only gorgeous. Billie’s is a cool spot.

Next stop was The Corner House on Nationalstraat. This is run by another Irish man, Alan and his partner. It’s very much in the Belgian tradition of a Brown Bar (Beer cafe) though. For something different I tried a Ginger Tipple which seemed to be produced in tiny batches. Patrick plumped for the 11% version, I was far more sensible and had the far more sessionable 8% Tipple! A really nice Ginger Beer, I was informed below that it is fermented with natural honey and some lime.

I finished the day, as I had started, with a beer from De Koninck, Tripel D’Anvers. Go hard, then go home as they say. I may have left out a couple of beers along the way for the sake of brevity. Patrick tells me that you’re not really supposed to order pints, to drink like the locals it’s all ‘pintjes’ or 250 ml pours. Pity I didn’t know that at the start of the evening! Be sure to check out these pubs when in Antwerp. I had a great time. Sláinte!

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Wake up and smell the coffee!

The evenings are drawing in and some of the seasonal beers are getting darker. I tried two Coffee Porters last night. The first was Dead Centre’s Moondust which was pouring in The Taphouse, Ranelagh. This one was brewed with Moondust coffee from Mullingar’s Bell Lane. I suppose that name was too good not to use for the beer as well! I’m not going to wax lyrical about moonbeams dancing on my tongue but I’ll simply tell you that this limited edition Porter is rather lovely. It’s light bodied and a pint was easy to put away. The cold press coffee brought some tasty flavours to the party. Recommended.

I wanted to keep the Coffee Porter vibes going and luckily enough I had some Black Gold in the stash at home. This isn’t the first collaboration between Wicklow Wolf and Java Republic. I didn’t really dig the first one A Beer Called Rwanda. I had also heard some mixed reports about Black Gold so my expectations were set pretty low. However, my tastes may have evolved since then, I may have been feeling more receptive or this may simply be a better beer. Because I quite liked it. It’s a bit stronger than Moondust and is slightly more viscous. You could definitely drink more Moondust but Black Gold makes for a decent nightcap. Try both yourself and let me know what you think. Sláinte!

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The Irish Craft Beer Festival is Reborn!

Some of you with long memories may remember last year’s post about The Decline of The Irish Craft Beer Festival. A point about necessary change was made. And behold, the 2018 event popped up in a big top in Rathmines. This wasn’t my first time to attend this festival but it was my first time to man a bar. I was stationed behind the Rye River/McGargles bar for the two days.

Unfortunately I managed to catch a head cold so I couldn’t fully appreciate the aroma of the many beers on offer. But I gave it my best shot!

It was good to catch up with lots of my beery pals. Shenanigans may have ensued as the party continued post festival in 57 The Headline and in Blackbird.

There was a decent array of beers, gins and food to choose from but there were no new breweries. This may be indicative of the rate of growth in the industry starting to level off. I think that the event benefitted from the new venue and am looking forward to seeing what 2019 brings. Sláinte!

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‘Fruity Lagers are the future!’

‘Fruity Lagers are the future!’, this is according to Paul Digan from Carlow’s Brewing. He had tried our Ól Orange Lager at The Big Grill. And he gave me a Sleeping Limes from Wild Beer as further proof.

I opted to open the Rye River Ól first. This one is very sessionable at 4.4%. Orange zest was added in the boil and again in the fermentation vessel. But this isn’t a straightforward Lager as it was hopped with El Dorado and Amarillo, hops more commonly found in IPAs. The juicy flavours make it really easy to drink.

I’ve had, and enjoyed, Wild Beer’s Sleeping Lemons before, but Sleeping Limes was a new one to me. This Lager was brewed Gøse style with the addition of sea salt. This gave the beer a pleasing balance. The beer is very refreshing and interesting. Both beers are widely available nationally so pick up the pair and give them a try!

Roy Quare Swally’s recent post about bloggers and their motivation gave me pause for thought. I really can’t claim to be completely unbiased especially as I work in the industry, for Rye River, but luckily I have plenty of people to keep my feet firmly on the ground! And sure look, if someone (anyone?) wants to pony up for an all expenses paid trip to Portland to drink all de beerz who amongst us would turn it down? All of that said, I admire Roy’s principles. I’m quite sure discerning readers like yourself know the difference between a genuine opinion and sposonsored content. Well, I really hope so anyway! Cheers for reading, let me know if you have any thoughts on the subject…

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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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