Category Archives: Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair

Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair 2019

The Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair continues to be the first major drinks festival of the calendar in Ireland. Now in it’s 6th year – this is my 3rd visit.

I keep going back to enjoy the friendly atmosphere, sample the diverse & exciting array of craft beers & cider available – and taste some whiskeys too!

I’d like to thank Alltech for offering me a Media Pass to enjoy this years show so #ad is in order.

Now a word of advice – have a plan.

There is no way you’ll get round all the stalls & all the produce on offer – at least not in one day if you still want to be standing at the end of it.

My plan was relatively simple.

In order of priority I’d be checking out any new whiskeys, any new spirits, any new barrel aged beers, having a pie & enjoying myself.

Simples!

I made a beeline for Black’s Of Kinsale.

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#whiskey of the day c/othewhiskeynut

Their sourced 12 Year Old Single Malt – ahead of their own distillate maturing – captured me with it’s bold yet clean design & cool bottle.

The liquid inside didn’t disappoint either.

A warm smooth & inviting start with a slight smoky hint of charred casks developed into a silky mouthfeel which slowly morphed into a gorgeously dry finish.

A great start to the show.

Their Spiced Irish Rum also tempted me.

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#rum of the day c/othewhiskeynut

The Guatemalan sugar cane mollasses are imported into Ireland, fermented, distilled & matured by Black’s to produce an Irish Rum.

Now rum isn’t my speciality – but this had an invitingly pungent nose of earthiness, smokiness, sweetness & spice. The taste followed in this style & was a far more entertaining tipple than I expected.

Thumbs up all round for Black’s entry into the distilled spirits market.

Rye River Brewing happened to be nearby with their ever enthusiastic beer ambassador Simon. Now we happen to know each other prior to his latest rise to beer fame & he didn’t have to twist my arm too hard to get me sampling a Rye River special brewed for the show.

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#grodziskie of the day c/othewhiskeynut

It also wasn’t difficult to go on a slightly wavering tour of the festival – perhaps taking in more than we would have done individually – but having a great time nonetheless.

Kweichow Moutai were up next.

A newcomer into the market for Ireland this historic and extremely popular Chinese spirit often catagorised as ‘baijiu‘ is an area I’ve yet to venture into.

Gorgeously garishly attractive – both the bottle, stall design and uniformed – as well as informed – staff had me trying to get my head round the sorghum & wheat base, 9 distillation production technique and new taste sensations.

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#baijiu of the day c/othewhiskeynut

It has the nose & appearance of a poitin – yet the taste was something else. At 53% it was warm, inviting, softly sweet yet earthy & unusual. I’d have been tempted to buy a bottle to explore further – but on hearing the price – this is a premium product with a premium price tag I was informed – I made do with another sample that still had me yearning for more! One to watch as they say.

Knowing my predilection for darker, heavier beers Simon guided me to Clifden based Bridewell Brewery. Along with their core range a limited edition duo commemorating the historic first flight across the Atlantic by Alcock & Brown resulted  in highly enjoyable & very satisfying Navigator Transatlantic Brown. The Pilot Amber Ale of Alcock wasn’t too bad either!

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#brown ale of the day c/othewhiskeynut

Lough Gill Brewery of Sligo also got a look in with their Award Winning Barrel Aged Dark Sunset Imperial Oatmeal Stout.

Yes, yes and yes! – is all I can say.  Suits me sir!

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#barrel aged beer of the day c/othewhiskeynut

A few other beers were had – some enjoyable – others not so – before Simon went back to work – and I back to whiskey – Pearse Lyons Whiskey to be precise.

Now I thought I had a reasonable handle on the fast moving Irish Whiskey Scene – obviously not when confronted by three age statemented Pearse Lyons offerings!

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#revamped whiskey of the day c/othewhiskeynut

What gives?

Turns out the original core range of 4 has been revamped, rerecipied & rebranded!

Gone are the non age statements, chunky bottles & keyhole like labels – in is a sleeker, leaner shared brand identity with a slightly higher 43% ABV. Also gone is the Cooper’s Select – grab it while you can!

The names & colours remain the same – with Original now a 5yo & Distiller’s Choice a 7yo. Founder’s Reserve was already a 12yo.

Short of a back to back comparison with the old 42% versions I couldn’t discern what changes have taken place. It was admitted the Original had lost a little of it’s smoky character from the former Alltech Lexington Brewery & Distillery barrels. It also looks as if that facilities output has also had a rebrand – but I failed to make the Town Branch stall this time.

The newly rebranded Pearse Lyons trio all still taste very appealing & are attractively priced – yet I was somewhat surprised by the revamp – so much so I needed a break – and a pie – to recompose myself!

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#pie of the day c/othewhiskeynut

Pieman continue to be a favourite festival pie provider of mine. A roast chicken & sausage stuffing pie sated my hunger & calmed me down for the final push. It also allowed some entertaining chats & discussions with fellow attendees on the shared table spaces dotted around the hall. Hats off to the Tempted ciderist who won Best In Show for their gorgeously dry & balanced Tempted Strawberry Cider & explained the intricacies of the trade to me over our meal.

Conscious that time was limited to make the last train home – I found another barrel aged beer to sample at the Clocked Out stall.

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#brett of the day c/othewhiskeynut

Brett  yeast seems to be a growing trend in craft brewing but I’m still not sure of the sour & funky taste even with this fine barrel aged stout. I did manage a quick catch up with the ever energetic Mr Guilfoyle whose rise in beer has been a pleasure to witness.

Scottish punk drink empire’s BrewDog stand earned a final visit. I knew they had a sourced whisky lurking under the counter waiting to celebrate Scotland’s win over England in the Six Nations which ultimately went to a draw.

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#whisky of the day c/othewhiskeynut

Uncle Duke’s is a Cameron Bridge sourced single grain with American virgin oak maturation, no chill filtration & natural colour. Rich, warm & inviting with a lovely dry spiciness showing through the soft & smooth delivery.

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#waffle of the day c/othewhiskeynut

A proud testament to the enduring legacy of Irishman Aeneas Coffey whose continuous still was adopted by Cameron Bridge back in the 1830’s – and is still going strong today – in a larger modern version –  with wonderful results like this.

And with that it was all over for me – despite the growing crowds still entering to enjoy the evenings entertainment.

All I was looking forward to now was that hot cup of tea on the train home!

Sláinte

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Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair 2016

The 4th annual Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair was held in the lovely surroundings of the Dublin Convention Centre over the weekend of 5th to 7th February.

The event is partly the pet project of the Dundalk born – colourful and charismatic President of Alltech – Dr Pearse Lyons – who is currently building a whiskey distillery in James Street Dublin.

The opening Friday evening at the fair saw a new world record being set!

729 beer tasters together in the same venue got themselves into The Guinness World Records Book – a fantastic achievement!

Meanwhile I made my 2nd visit to the show on Sunday – where a few rough heads were about after all the festivities. Despite being dominated by the rise in craft beer – cider and food stalls – there was a sprinkling of spirit distillers present to make it a worthwhile event to attend.

On entering the grand atrium – there was the welcome addition of a beer garden behind the ticket stalls. I did find the lack of a suitable space for drinkers to sit and chat over their tipples a bit of a problem last year – but thankfully this has been overcome. I enjoyed a long chat with various show attendees in this area.

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The Nephin Whiskey crew and stall c/othewhiskeynut

The Nephin Whiskey Distillery had a large stand before you entered the main hall. Unlike a lot of the new upcoming distilleries – Nephin have chosen not to go to a 3rd party supplier to release a whiskey before their own stocks have matured. To offset the financial cost this imposes – they have opened a working cooperage where you can see the skill involved in making wooden whiskey barrels by master cooper John. Barrels – casks and other wooden products can be made to order and supplied for your needs. John was on show over the weekend but sadly I missed the demonstration – I’ll maybe pay him a visit soon!

Inside the hall proper I wondered around to get my bearings. There were lots of familiar brands and faces behind the stalls – but a new one caught my attention. Jenlain from France inspired me with their enthusiasm and I couldn’t leave without a glass of Jenlain Or which was a lovely strongly flavoured ale at 8% – very nice.

But I was meant to be here for the whiskey!

Ah well – onto the next stall – Blacks of Kinsale – arch brewers of strongly hopped ales – but what was that at the front of their heavily award laden hand pumps? – a clear bottle of spirit?

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The lovely Blackmoon XXX c/othewhiskeynut

Partly persuaded by the cheerful chatty staff I accepted the offer of a shot of moonshine. Yes – you heard that right – moonshine. Blacks have decided to get into the distilling game and in the process of developing a gin – which was launched at the fair – they also experimented with a corn based moonshine.

I was expecting a sharp alcohol burn up my nose on the 1st sniff – but instead got a sweet smell of well – corn. The taste was also surprisingly smooth and palatable.

Goodness! I’ve had more burn from a cheap 40% blend than this moonshine at 50%!

This drink defied all my preconceived notions – so much so that when I bumped into friends and acquaintances later in the day – I just had to drag them back to Blacks to show them.

Trouble is – it’s a limited release and going fast. I’m just glad I got the chance to sample it. So Blacks don’t just know how to make a decent pint – they also do a decent shot too!

My 1st actual whiskey of the day was provided by St Patrick’s Distillery where I was reassuringly reacquainted with the wonderfully spiced finish of their Oak Aged Irish Whiskey.

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Tom from St Patrick’s with the whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Opposite St Patrick’s was The Town Branch Whiskey Lounge where the tasty trio of Town Branch Bourbon – Town Branch Rye and Pearse Lyons Reserve from the Alltech distillery in Lexington – Kentucky – graced the shelves.

I opted for my drink of choice when it comes to American whiskey – Rye. The soft nose – complex taste and lingering spicy finish welcomed me back into it’s fold yet again. I even convinced Barry from the previous stall to try it – surprisingly smooth for a 50% expression!

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Town Branch Whiskey Lounge c/othewhiskeynut

Barry in turn convinced me to try out a whiskey aged cider from the Dan Kelly stall.

Now I’ve had a few whiskey aged beers in my time – Ola Dubh being my favourite – and I’ve tasted Jameson’s Caskmate beer barrel aged whiskey along with Tullamore DEW’s cider cask release – which I rated quiet highly in a blind tasting I did last year – but I’ve not had a whiskey aged cider before!

A glass was duly ordered – together with a Beef & Stout pie from Skoffs -and I made my way to the beer garden to enjoy them both with a bit of a chat with fellow drinkers.

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Dan Kelly’s Whiskey Barrel Cider c/othewhiskeynut

The pie went down well – and so too did the dry apple cider. But I didn’t detect the whiskey influence. Others at the table did however – so maybe my palate had just been blasted by the shots I’d previously consumed! An interesting combination nonetheless – the more innovation and experimentation in the drinks industry to come up with new tastes and flavours the better in my book.

After my repast – I got waylaid by bumping into friends and acquaintances so didn’t get to call in on the Dingle DistilleryRuby Blue or Muldoon stands showcasing their vodka – gin and liqueur products.

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Drink Of The Day! c/othewhiskeynut

I did get drawn back to my drink of the day – Blackmoon XXX moonshine from Blacks of Kinsale. I had a couple more – along with a tasty sushi – and merrily made my way back to the train station for my journey home.

Slainte

 

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