Dark and Wild, live in Leeds

Dinky glasses

It has been a couple of weeks since my last beer festival so I jumped at the opportunity to attend Dark and Wild in Leeds on Saturday. I like Leeds, having visited a few times before to see my friends. And I’d never made it to Northern Monk’s Refectory which was hosting the event. We just about had time for a quick platter of cheese and charcuterie, and a session IPA in Friends of Ham.

Cycle Nibs Imperial Stout

I was there with Tom from Land and Labour and I gave him a (very small) hand. He was pouring Finnberry, Biere De Rhubarb and cask Cherry Wine which all very much ticked the Wild remit of the festival. Next door, all the way from St. Petersburg, Florida was Cycle. And they brought some Dark with them. I really enjoyed the original Nibs and the Wednesday which had vanilla and hazelnuts.

A Tue Tete fruited sours

Tom tipped me off about A Tue Tete’s lovely fruited sours. The Lime Framboise and Kiwi were properly tart. I was just hankering for some fluffy meringue afterwards.

Cask Ale in The Grove Inn

During the break in between sessions we decamped to The Grove Inn for some malty, smooth Ruby Mild from Rudgate on cask.

Little Earth Project Oude Bruin

Back at the festival Little Earth Project started opening their bottles of Pre Industrial Porter, which was rich and interesting. I’m going to have to visit them in Suffolk, they have a brewery, pub and campsite which sound idyllic.

Jonathan, Natalie and me!

We were staying with my friends so they joined us for the evening session. I have to say it’s a great venue and I was happy to attend but I’m possibly a bit old for the very loud music that made conversation difficult!

Whitelock’s, a pint of Brown Ale and a good book.

On Sunday I spent some time in Whitelock’s, where I was joined by Dave from The Bierhaus, Cork as he had also attended the festival. I liked Sepia Brown Ale from Fell.

Bundobust, vegetables and beer.

A short stroll brought us to Bundobust where the Coriander Pilsner went down nicely with assorted vegetables. I’m not sure what all of them were, but they were tasty.

Donzoko Festbier in Brownhill and Co.

We finished off the afternoon in the very salubrious surroundings of Brownhill and Co. They had a few fridges well stocked with an assortment of ales, local and from Belgium. I was happy with my choice of Donzoko Festbier. And then it was time to hotfoot it to the airport. See you next time Leeds. Sláinte

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High Fidelity

Browar Stu Mostow Tap Takeover in Beer Temple

There was a massive jump in Dublin’s craft beer population over the weekend. Fidelity belatedly returned after an enforced hiatus. Just to get everyone warmed up there was a load of tap takeovers in Dudley’s, Beer Temple, Black Sheep and Big Romance on Thursday night. In Black Sheep I particularly enjoyed Victorian Futurism, a Triple Fruited Sour from Stu Mostow. I also had the pleasure of meeting the guys for the first time. And there was even some talk of a visit to Poland!

In the Black Sheep with Chris Treanor

Then it was time to cross the river to Black Sheep where Chris Treanor formerly of Galway Bay Brewery and now with Fuerst Wiacek was waiting. I really liked his Berliner Landbier. Finback’s Foeder Pils was pouring too and it went down a treat.

Land & Labour pouring at Fidelity

Tom, head brewer of Galway Bay Brewery asked if I could lend a hand behind the Land & Labour bar at Fidelity. Land & Labour, for the uninitiated, is his highly rated spontaneous fermentation brewery. This was the first time Finnberry was available, it is a spontaneously fermented beer with Irish raspberries, blackberries and black currants. It poured a beautiful shade of pink and proved to be a big hit with a long que of thirsty folks and indeed it was the first keg kicked at the festival.

A few of my favourite beers at Fidelity

Donzoko’s Lemon Summer Beer, a collaboration with Newbarns was recommended and it did not disappoint. Really refreshing stuff. At the other end of the scale I threw caution to the winds with Jackie O’s Decorating Pieces of Time Barrel Aged Barley Wine. I can imagine this being amazing with some blue cheese whilst sitting by an open fire. But there was no time for such indulgence, on to the next beer! I had met the lads from Verdant earlier in the day and they had mentioned Every Day is a Different Dose in passing. It was a very pleasant American Wheat Beer.

Fidelity in The Round Room
The Round Room hosted Fidelity

I did try a few more beers and the standard was very high, I just had one dud, which I’m not going to name. The event was also a chance to catch up with a few people I hadn’t seen in a long time and make a couple of new friends. The atmosphere was great. The fresh water and rinsing stations were welcome. I missed food other than the tasty Blanco Nino tortilla chips. Luckily one man came prepared with a lunchbox full of cheese that he seemed happy enough to share with random strangers. It was a very enjoyable evening. I have busy few weeks ahead with festivals in the Deer’s Head, Belfast, Hagstravaganza, Ballymote, The Big Grill, Dublin and of course the Midlands Craft Beer Festival, Moate looming large in my calendar. Hopefully I’ll see some of you along the way. Sláinte!

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Limerick, you’re a (land) lady…

Pints of Bay Ale in Mother Mac’s

A night away is always a good idea. Even if it’s raining. So a few of us headed to Limerick. My wife wanted to pay a quick visit to the Milk Market so that was our first stop. And Mother Mac’s is just around the corner and just had to be our second. The lads are obviously telepathic as they’d just tapped up a fresh keg of Bay Ale. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned Mother Mac’s here before (someone go check!) but it bears repeating that it’s a lovely pub. They have a nice offering with a beer for most tastes. Nice relaxed atmosphere too.

Lost City of Pop in Crew

Crew Brewing have been closed longer than they’ve been open thanks to events. But it’s only a short walk from Mother Mac’s and I felt the need to check it out. They are serving straight from tanks behind the bar which is something you don’t see often in Ireland. Their Lost City of Pop ticks all of the New England Pale Ale boxes being soft and tropical. They also have a street food area about 100 metres away and a few people were enjoying food with their beers. Hopefully these guys get a good run at it this time!

Treaty City, Limerick

Treaty City have been around for a while longer and have featured on this blog a few times but this was my first opportunity to set foot in the place. I had a cracking Helles. It’s a cool spot which was comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. They also offer tours and are right beside King John’s Castle if you fancy a history lesson. It was great to see Treaty City’s local support too. They are pouring in Katie Daly’s, Patsy Flannery’s and The Commercial Bar, and I’m sure a few more spots around Limerick. Also, we had a gorgeous dinner in The Spitjack and they had beer from my old friends Rye River and Stonewell Cider. I have to say I was impressed with Limerick, it’s well worth visiting. Sláinte.

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Down by the river (side beer festival)

Riverside Beer Festival line up. (Pic borrowed from their Instagram)

So I said I’d just drink what’s there, when one of my friends asked if I’d be bringing beer home. Just as well too, as there were very few cans on the go. But draught now, that was a different story altogether…

They gave me a big glass on day one…great for lagers!

Where was I? Oh yes, London Docklands. We (Galway Bay Brewery) were invited to Brew By Numbers Riverside Beer Festival, which took place in their brewery. Cormac and I were manning the taps for the three day event. It was £50 for a four and a half hour session and there were six of those. Punters were given a glass and unlimited 100ml pours. Braybrooke had been recommended to me so they were my first port of call, obviously I made sure all of our own beers were tasting great first! They had a lovely malty boi – Vienna style pouring and I enjoyed that. The Bruery had Ruekeller Dunkel on and that kept those lovely malty vibes going. We were stationed between Finback who had a beautiful Seasalt Lager and Fallen Acorn who were pushing out the NEIPA boat with Awaken. Not a bad place to be.

Dois Corvos, Jester King, Dumplings and Cheese!

I also sampled Dois Corvos Cream DIPA, brewed with Citra, not cream! And I refreshed my palate with Jester King’s Blackberry Saison. The Himalayan dumplings were probably my favourite food of the festival. And the Swiss lads from Hoppy People brought their raclette and a wheel of cheese for some light snackage after the first day. As you do like. Melted cheese is hard bet.

Riverside Beer Festival Day Two

I kicked off day two with Brew By Numbers 32 German Style Pilsner, which absolutely nails it, really dry with nice bitterness. And for something completely different I had Hoppy People’s Clash of the Titans Barley Wine which was rich and warming.

E Pellicci, and a few more beers…

On the morning of day three Cormac reckoned we should visit E Pellicci for breakfast. I’m going to say this is a must the next time you are in London. The place oozes character and craic. And the grub was spot on. I sampled IPAs from Fuerst Wiacek and Beak and they were both really good. Time to Ride the Danger Curve TIPA from Heist was whopper. And Pastore’s Dry Hopped Sour was like a mouthful of summer.

Winding down…docks sunset…tunes and craic.

Myself and Basil from Finback had fun working side by side. And the lads from Fallen Acorn were very generous with their (necessary) factor 50. We all shared food and I’m looking forward to crossing paths with the good people I met. I have to say I was very impressed with the event. The Brew By Numbers team were so helpful and sound. You should visit them if you’re in London and grab a pizza and a couple of beers. Sláinte!

Sure this is it…
Gift of Time from Galway Bay Brewery

PS: it would be remiss of me not to mention the new/old beer that we poured first at this event. Gift of Time is a mixed fermentation beer that was brewed as a collaboration with Honest Brew, aged for three years in white wine barrels and finished with Nelson Sauvin hops. If that sounds like the kind of thing you’re into then you should definitely get yourself to Mullingar’s inaugural Wild Beer Festival this coming Saturday the 11th of June!

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A Sample of Beer in Catalonia: nano to macro.

La Textil, Barcelona

Last week myself and my family took off to sunnier climes. Incredibly I found time to try some beers. Joan has been writing about beer for some time now as Birraire, in fact we met, way back in 2014 when the Beer Bloggers Conference was held in Dublin. You can check out his work here!So I gave him a shout and he recommended meeting in La Textil, Barcelona for lunch. I enjoyed their Writer’s Block Helles and their Quad 4 Pale Ale. They also had a small lunch menu and the aubergine with romesco sauce was lovely. The place is very cool with serious attention paid to every detail, worth a visit if you are in Barcelona. Also great to enjoy a beer with one of the people behind the Barcelona Beer Festival and a wealth of knowledge and stories.

BierCab, Barcelona

One of the more famous craft beer bars in Barcelona is BierCab so I felt I had to visit. I made short work of Fuerst Wiacek’s Stray Robot Session IPA and local legends La Pirata’s The Last Fool Southpaw 15% Imperial Stout. I had intended on checking out Garage and some other spots but time and opening hours didn’t work out.

El Tamboret, Cambrils

The next evening we took a walk to Cambrils which wasn’t too far from where we were staying. I wanted to check out brewpub On Tap. Alas, it was closed midweek. Luckily, El Tamboret was right around the corner. They had a nice local IPA pouring called Trapitxol from Ona which went down beautifully with some cheese. I also tried quite a bitter (in a good way) Galaxy Pale from Ales Agullons and a lovely Saison dubbed Nobel Ek from Brekeriet. The bar man/proprietor was very friendly, helpful and happy to recommend choices to me. From what I can tell, all of these are quite small breweries and it’s great to see.

Twins, Tarragona

Joan had mentioned Twins in Tarragona to me over lunch so we headed there. The twins in question are dead sound and they have a really relaxed place. We sat outside, as everyone else was and enjoyed a leisurely lunch of tapas. They also had a tasty IPA as well as some more unusual options like a Tripel and a surprisingly light Coffee Stout. If you’re in the area this is a must visit for great food and quality beers. You can check out some impressive Roman ruins in Tarragona too!

Craft beers from Esclat

I was tipped off that there might be some craft beer in the large supermarket Esclat which was a 20 minute walk from where I was staying. Alarmingly it looked like they had a two year shelf life and they were being stored ambient. Happily they were all pretty fresh. All decent examples of the pale ale hoppy type beer. And certainly a change from the dominant Damm lager.

Just some Damm beers…

In Ireland we have a couple of big breweries that are present on almost every bar in the country. In Barcelona and the surrounding area if you ask for a beer there’s a very good chance it’s going to be Estrella Damm. A lot of restaurants and tapas bars seem to only have one beer tap, so your choice is that, wine or sangria. Damm have a variety of bocks too which weren’t bad. If you Google craft beer in Salou the list is short. One bar that’s top of the list is The Butler. They had Damm’s (new?) IPA pouring and I was told it’s being brewed in a smaller facility (I’m thinking something akin to the Open Gate brewery) and that they grow the Nugget hops themselves in the mountains. It was pretty quaffable to be fair with a decent amount of juiciness. My least favourite Damm beer was Xibeca but at a couple of cents a can it’s hard to be too upset. Hopefully you can make the effort to find some of the hidden gems on your next trip to this part of the world. Sláinte!

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