My first Oktoberfest by Simon Says Beer

A beer at the Viktualienmarkt

Ah, I don’t think I’d like Oktoberfest. Sure it’d be too busy, too messy, not my sort of scene at all. And I’ve been in Munich a few time before….

The boss: ‘lads, we’ve spaces in the Hofbraü* tent and accommodation organised, who’s in?’

Me: ‘g’wan so!’

When I first looked at flights the direct ones to Munich seemed a bit expensive (not a surprise given the amount of visitors expected) so I flew to Nuremberg and got the ICE train for €17! Would recommend.

Käsekrainer and sauerkraut

I was in Munich first so I waited for my colleagues in the Viktualienmarkt. It’s a lovely market and beer garden in the middle of the city. They rotate the pouring beers from the local breweries and it just happened to be Hofbraü’s turn. Tasty bit of grub too had me set up for the evening.

Outside the Hofbraü tent

Then we headed for Theresienwiese, a huge area with a clatter of massive tents. There’s also a rake of torture equipment or ‘amusements’ if you are interested in that sort of thing. As we were already late we skipped them and made our way into the Hofbraü tent.

The view from the balcony of the Hofbraü tent

Even a hardened cynic like myself couldn’t but be impressed by the scale of the tent, it holds about ten thousand people. The atmosphere was brilliant. The bands playing a mixture of traditional drinking songs and some slightly more modern classic hits. The beer, a 6.3% Märzen was so clean and light that you barely knew you were drinking it.

A massive mug of Märzen

One tip for this, and indeed any beer festival, don’t forget to eat. I reckon the hearty grub saved my bacon if you’ll pardon the expression. I had a nice few litres and managed not to make a complete show of myself. And no I didn’t dress up. Many thanks to Andreas and Hofbraü for their hospitality.

Augustiner Dunkles

Around midday the following day we were ready for a few more beers and Gaststätte Scheidegger had been recommended. Here I enjoyed an old favourite, Edelstoff and a Dunkles for a change. It’s a nice relaxed spot with good food and service.

Augustiner tent craic

We paid a brief visit to the Augustiner tent for a few frothy bois. And last on my agenda was a look at Oide Wiesn which replicates the Oktoberfests of yore with stalls and a more traditional ambience. The lads went back to the Hofbraü tent and it was time for me to head home. I think I might have to do this all again…Ein Prosit!

*I’m working with Fourcorners who sell Hofbraü in Ireland so we were their guests.

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Hagstravaganza no. 9 dream

Green Cheek Beer Co. Don’t Tell Brian courtesy of Tara

The minute I landed at Hagstravaganza Tara wrested my empty receptacle from me and returned it filled with the last drop of Don’t Tell Brian from Green Cheek Beer Co. It’s an Imperial Banana Coconut Chocolate Vanilla Cupcake Stout! And it’s 13.1%. So much for starting off with a few sessionable ones. I don’t like a lot of banana flavoured things but this one was made with real bananas and was delicious.

Deschutes King Crispy and Tom

Taking a step back from the abyss (more on that in the next sentence) I thoroughly enjoyed Deschutes King Crispy, a 4.8% German style Pilsner. Later in the day I paired Burgersluts American Classic cheeseburger with a drop of the 2022 Abyss. I’d say my timing was a little off there but it was certainly an interesting pairing. (Crisp lager and burgers is a much safer bet!)

Let me tell you about this Helles Lager

Speaking of Lager, Round Corner’s Fuggling Helles, a Lager hopped exclusively with Fuggles was an experiment that worked. I bumped into the brewer, bizarrely enough a Leitrim man who recommended trying their World Champion Steeplechase Pale Ale. I thought it was a perfect ‘beer that tastes like beer ‘! He seemed happy with that assessment.

With Paul Cloudwater Jones

Paul Jones from Cloudwater is no stranger to Ballymote. I introduced myself as I’m now selling some of their beers in my role of Territory Sales Manager with Four Corners. And I enquired about the cans in his bucket, he gave me one and it was a collaboration with Other Half, a Double IPA canned a couple of days earlier. But he said I had to share it, I had no problems finding volunteers to try it. As you’d expect, it was a very well put together Double IPA.

The dynamic duo of Erwin and Bob

Longtime White Hag supporters Brickyard were running the Barrel Aged bar at the event. I sampled Alesong’s Silver Lining which is a dry hopped Barrel Aged Farmhouse Ale. It was a nice change of pace for my palate. And I had to try Brewfist’s Trinidad el Vasco ’17, a Port Barrel Aged Barley Wine which was warming as the evening chill came in.

Myself and Mel enjoying a quiet train can

I had a great day and am looking forward to Hagstravaganza no. 10. Well done to all involved in pulling the event together. Serious plugging. It was great to see so many sound people enjoying great beer. I bumped into Mel of Galway Bay Running Club fame on the way to the slightly earlier train and we had a pair of very civilised train cans.

Jazzy Beatles covers in Bree’s

I rounded out the evening with a pint of Dagda in Bree’s Bar, Strandhill. There was a band playing some very tasty tunes including a couple by The Beatles, if you can imagine them in the style of Steely Dan. Thanks to Kevin and the guys for their hospitality too. Hopefully I’ll see some of you again on the 26th of this month in Moate… sláinte!

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Midlands Craft Beer Festival 2023

Midlands Craft Beer Festival 2023 poster

This year’s event is going to be the biggest yet. We have more breweries, lots of music and Don is expanding the space. Craig Kearney of has done a savage job of updating the website so give it a look:

Hope to see lots of you there. Sláinte!

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A few beers in the south of France

Selection of local brews in campsite supermarket

When you go on a family holiday in France and stay in one of those campsites you don’t have high hopes for the beer selection in the supermarket. Imagine my surprise to find, not one, but two local breweries on the shelves. Argelès-sur-Mer, a small seaside town is spoilt, it also boasts a rake of vineyards. So you definitely wouldn’t die of thirst.

Brasserie La Canya – taproom and brewhouse

Brasserie Cap D’Ona doesn’t seem to have a tap room on site from a quick check that I did. La Canya does though so I rented a bike and did the 5km cycle (with a steep hill) to whet my appetite. The guy there didn’t have much English and I have terrible French so I contented myself with a few beers. All very drinkable but I found the pro Ukraine American Red Ale the most interesting. I like their cartoon style labels too.

Cellier des Vignerons – local wine shop

I thought it would be rude not to try some of the local wine so I visited Cellier des Vignerons where you can try a few samples before buying. If you are very clever you can even bring bottles to fill for a couple of euros. I’m also pretty sure the bottle I paid €9 for would be a few times more expensive here due to the huge duty that we pay. Anyway, I know very little about wine so I’ll just say that I liked it!

Cap D’Ona IPA and charcuterie board

Arbor et Sens was a local restaurant which was recommended. They proudly grow their vegetables on site. This coupled with an IPA from Cap D’Ona made for a very enjoyable locavore experience.

Le Tour Du Monde en 80 Bieres

A pub near the harbour boasts a selection of beers from around the world, mostly bottles from what I gathered. Unfortunately it wasn’t open when I was in the area. I would advise checking opening times for anywhere you’re visiting in the area as many close from 12/1 to 3/4 in the afternoon.

Beers at La Fine Mousse, Argelès-sur-Mer

I contented myself with a few beers at La Fine Mousse. I’m not sure if there’s any connection with the pub of the same name in Paris. Nevertheless, it was a grand way to pass an hour and I had a couple of tasty croquettes with my beers. When returning home I was impressed to see Cap D’Ona beers on sale in the small airport café. Hopefully this will be useful to some of you if you visit Argelès-sur-Mer this summer. À votre santé!

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Mayo to Monaghan

Matt, Cillian and Mia from Mescan

Grainne Ale Festival has been running at Westport House since 2013 and it only took ten years for me to get there. (It hasn’t been on all the time, just one weekend a year like, barring certain recent events. ) It is beside Gracy’s Pizzeria and Restaurant and I think it is fair to say they’ve got it well sorted at this point with a nice sized marquee and even a covered stage for the musicians. I was happy to see Mr Whippy’s Soundsystem too, apparently he’s a regular feature. The first person I met when I arrived was Cillian from Mescan and he decided that I was going to kick off with their 8.5% Westport Extra, a Belgian Style (sure,  aren’t they all) Golden Ale. So I was off to a great start. They also had little cubes of local cheese from Dozio which really enhanced the Belgian vibes.

Conor and Marcus from Reel Deel

Last week in Mullingar Conor from Reel Deel just happened to mention their Hop Dog, brewed with fresh Mayo grown Fuggles, which was going to be pouring exclusively at this festival. Not that I needed an excuse. It was really lovely. Not fancy, just straight forward and enjoyable company, like the lads.

James from Lough Gill

A few of the lads had recommended Lough Gill’s Pain and Perfection Mango Passionfruit Pastry Sour, I went instead for their Helles Lager (pictured), as I had to work my way up to it. When I eventually was ready, I was very pleasantly surprised. It was sweet but there was balance with some refreshing bitterness too.

Michaela and Richard from Black Donkey

It was good to see Michaela and Richard from Black Donkey again. And I enjoyed a Sheep Stealer. I might have even lent a hand for a few minutes pouring. I was talking to John from Lough Measc too and finished up the afternoon with a Gin and Tonic, which made for a nice change of pace. I will definitely have to attend this festival again.

Blasta Street Kitchen Burger

Brehon Brewhouse in Monaghan were hosting a Mary Wallopers gig in their yard Sunday evening and I wasn’t going to miss that. I was happy to see Seany McCleary from Blasta Street Kitchen on the way in, it has been a few years since I was able to get stuck into one of his epic burgers. Perfect soakage material.

Mary Wallopers warming up in the cottage

I enjoyed a couple of pints of the appropriate for the occasion 3.5% Brehon Seisiún and the Lager before moving on to cans of Imagine and Stout. The lads were having a bit of trouble pouring unfortunately but we didn’t let that dampen our mood. My friend Helen, who wouldn’t be a big beer drinker enjoyed two glasses of the 10% Barrel Aged Imperial Stout Crann Beatha.

Mary Wallopers at Brehon Brewhouse

If you have not checked out The Mary Wallopers yet then you really should! Their ribald humour is tempered with some very emotive story telling. A very unique event to be sure, we were all lucky to be part of it, fair play to the good people at Brehon Brewhouse. Sláinte!

Dave and I, both of us somehow managed to spill beer on ourselves

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