Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair is Ireland’s largest festival of its kind, showcasing over 400 different craft beers alongside spirits and a range of food vendors.
We attended the Saturday session at this year’s event at the Convention Centre in Dublin and were thoroughly impressed by the setup, atmosphere, food and quality of beers on offer. So if you’re wondering if it’s worth attending next year? Yes, go, it’s great.
Most of the breweries in attendance were Irish so it was the perfect opportunity to sample the best craft beers in Ireland at the moment, as well as some new beers from breweries we’d never heard of.
Loudon’s were an example of the latter, and we were pleasantly surprised. An independent, family-owned brewery from Glendree, County Clare who brew using only natural ingredients, with an emphasis on sustainability and environmentally green brewing practises. They actually make beer using rain water. How cool is that?! Thankfully it’s not just a gimmick – their beers taste great too – so we’ll be keeping an eye out for them in future.
County Kildare’s Rye River Brewing Co are more well known in the Irish craft beer scene – we’ve tried McGargles in the past but this was our first opportunity to sample any of their seasonals. Miami J, a 6.5% limited edition, small batch IPA and their 5 Finger DIPA were two of the best beers of the festival. Stunning beers that prove Irish breweries can brew these types of on-trend beers on par with the best breweries in the UK or US.
The best beer of the festival, though, was Coppermoose – a Raspberry, Vanilla & Lactose sour from Lough Gill Brewery. The first beer we tried of the day, which remained champion for the duration of the session. Someone actually asked if I was drinking a cocktail, due to the bright pink colour of this bonkers beer. If you like your beer to taste like beer, this won’t be for you, but if you like your beer to taste like a glorious thick, fruit smoothie, seek this out. Yum.
Other highlights included Peach Out by Trouble Brewing, a White Chocolate & Peach IPA, Wizard of the Sonic, an 8% DIPA by Dead Centre Brewing and Hope Beer’s Limited Edition #13, Espresso Stout, which was a wonderful nitro stout packed full of coffee.
Although the Irish made up the majority of the breweries in attendance, kudos to BrewDog for bringing some Fanzine brews and some specials along, and we had some great beers from Wild Beer Co and Firestone Walker, too.
Shout-out also to Kono Pizza who helped us soak up the beers with their unique pizza offering. Essentially an ice-cream cone-shaped pizza, filled with cheese, tomato sauce and pepperoni. We were sceptical but it works, so give them a go if you spot them out and about.
The only thing we’d have changed about this year’s Alltech Craft Brews festival would be smaller pours as standard. Sometimes you don’t need to drink a pint (or even a half-pint), especially if it’s a 15% ABV imperial stout.
We’ve been to some wonderful beer festivals recently such as Cloudwater’s Friends & Family & Beer where much smaller measures (90-120ml) were standard. It’s a noticeable difference between Irish beer festivals and those further afield, as if Irish beer drinkers are embarrassed to order anything less than a pint. Beer has moved on, so perhaps it’s time to embrace smaller pours.
Nit-picking aside, we had a wonderful day at Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair and can’t wait ‘til the next one. The Irish craft beer scene is maturing, making increasingly unique, innovative beers and growing year-on-year. Alltech have done a wonderful job of showcasing that. Sláinte!
To see the rest of our photos from the Saturday session, check out the gallery here.