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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Brews by the Sea

Today was Father’s Day and when my wife asked what I wanted to do I didn’t hesitate before saying that I’d like to attend the Brewha in Bray’s Harbour Bar.

Helles Lager, Irish craft beer

This small festival saw some local breweries showcasing their wares. Larkin’s Helles Lager was a great one to start off with. It was very clean and drinkable. I resisted the sweets and crisps that were also on offer, the beer was enough of a treat for me.

The Garden County Brewers were offering samples of their home brews. They couldn’t accept payment but they had a tip jar. I suspect all monies were swiftly invested in more malt and hops. I enjoyed their fruity Citra IPA.

Speaking of hops, Kev from Third Barrel put all of them into their new, brilliantly named, Shut Up Juice. It’s great to see Third Barrel up and running and developing a small range of hop bombs.


The lovely people from the Harbour Bar provided some delightfully messy pulled pork sliders and ribs.

Porterhouse had a new special on offer. I loved the Dudesque can artwork of Hazy Border. It’s a collaboration with Hillstown from the top part of our fair isle. If Brexit commentaries all tasted like this I’d have no problem.

Wicklow’s Chocolate and Coconut Stout did exactly what it promised on the tap badge. It’s one of the most coconutty beers I’ve tasted in a while and it would be lovely with some chocolate cake.

Wicklow Wolf’s Ranchero Rauchbier was smokey and interesting. This was a local affair but Wicklow Wolf were definitely the closest brewery to the event. They could’ve just rolled the kegs down the road for the weekend!

I saved the biggest beer until last. O Brother were pouring an untitled 9% Imperial Stout. It was very chewy and a great one to finish an afternoon session with. Fair play to Antrim Man aka Mark Molloy and the Harbour Bar crew for putting on a cracking wee festival. Hopefully this is one that will be returning in 2019. It’s going to be a busy summer of beer festivals so stay tuned for more. Sláinte!

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