Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Best Irish Sour Beers of 2016

...according Utappd users.

Click on any heading to sort by that column.

Boundary Brewing Sour Bake 20164.2466274
Boundary Brewing Chloe Dancer4.2177431
YellowBelly BeerCastaway4.15115
YellowBelly BeerJack Bauer's Power Shower Sour4.0681844
YellowBelly BeerFor Whom the Sour Trolls4.0518953
Otterbank Brewing Co. Beta Barrel 13.9852917
Eight Degrees Brewing No Way Gose3.9675
Boundary Brewing Silver Lining3.9225
Boundary Brewing A Berliner Vice: Derek3.9062516
Galway Bay Brewery Godspeed3.89764254
YellowBelly BeerClub Tropicana3.87534
Galway Bay Brewery The Eternalist3.84565230
Kinnegar Brewing Walla Walla3.8443998
Boundary BrewingA Berliner Vice #4 - Nearly Nilsson3.8421119
Metalman Brewing Spicy Cucumber And Fruit Sour3.8333315
Trouble Brewing Weisse City3.825463
Kinnegar Brewing High Glen3.82453161
YellowBelly BeerGreat For the Town3.80414157
Kinnegar Brewing Sour Grapes3.8037690
Galway Bay Brewery Maybe Next Monday3.78804276
Boundary Brewing A Berliner Vice #23.7870427
Kinnegar Brewing Geuzberry3.7839581
Brown Paper Bag Project Aul Bruin Bagger3.77245245
Boundary Brewing Milk Agitator3.738163
Rascals Brewing Co Project Sour: #1 the Hoppy One3.7265664
Brown Paper Bag Project Gose3.7147185
Boundary Brewing Push & Pull: Funkacidic3.7142928
Boundary Brewing Sourish Bake 20153.6969733
O'Hara's BreweryWild Side3.687516
Hope Beer Peach And Blueberry Sour3.66667111
White Gypsy Brewery Sour Stout3.6532331
Galway Bay Brewery Brigid/Ceasefire Rhubarb Sloe3.64765425
The White HagThe Púca3.64062768
The Open Gate Brewery Damson Plum Sour3.62520
Rascals Brewing Co Project Sour #3: Forest Fruit Sour3.6120758
Galway Bay Brewery Space Suit3.58648159
White Gypsy Brewery Scarlet3.57031127
Rascals Brewing Co Project Sour #2: Seriously Saison3.5408249
The White HagBeann Gulban Irish Heather Sour Ale3.525191429
Galway Bay Brewery Heathen3.52252433
Boundary Brewing A Berliner Vice #13.4246673
Metalman Brewing Razzbeer3.42325114
Metalman Brewing Razzbeer3.42325114
The White HagSearbh Rua Imperial Sour Red3.22043575
IndependentConnemara Cherry Sour3.19186129
Boundary Brewing Vilca Weisse3.17520

The wisdom of the crowd. May not be perfect, but it is what it is.

Big news this month is Boundary's Sour Bake 2016 has taken the top spot, and deservedly so. My Irish beer of the year, a beer which shows you can't hurry perfection.

From next month this list will only include beers that were available in the previous 3 months as a lot of these were specials for 2016.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Golden Pint Awards 2016

  • Best Irish Keg Beer: White Hag's Little Fawn. A simple beer, which when fresh on tap is fantastic. Runner up goes to McGargle's Big Bangin' Francis. Worst beer name ever, and a beer I didn't like much at its initial outing, but I do now. At 7.1% and on wide distribution on tap is a feat in itself. Solid beer.
  • Best Irish Bottled Beer: While available on draught at their tap rooms, Boundary's Sour Bake 2016, a barrel aged sour stout, only recently available in bottles, is totes amazeballs. This beer is simply stunning and has perched itself atop the Untappd list of Irish sour beers that I post. I cannot emphasise enough how good this beer is, and again, how Boundary are the DJs of how the current best of the Irish scene dances.
  • Best Irish Canned Beer: Choice is better than last year and Razzbeer from Metalman gets the award for being the first sour(ish) beer in cans from an Irish brewer. That takes courage. Worthy of mention is Surrender to the Void from Whiplash, a balls in your face DIPA from Alex Lawes, with superb branding from his main squeeze, Sophie DeVere.
  • Best Overseas Draught Beer: For God's sake I spent the summer in the US! Too much choice so no way to do it justice. Chicago's All Rise does the best IPA in the world, Reverend Bob's. This beer is simply stunning. If you're in Chicago check them out, they're a stone's throw from Goose Island in the Cobra Lounge, a famous Chicago pub. But there are so many more....
  • Best Overseas Bottled Beer: Arrows of Neon from the Rare Barrel. What a name, what a beer.
  • Best Overseas Canned Beer: Too many to list but Lawyers, Guns & Money from Crazy Mountain was a stand-out not only as a great beer, but a great name.
  • Best Collaboration Brew: Imbib with an Alibi, an exceptional sour saison, brewed and aged in two separate breweries and then blended. A beer to behold in the wonderful town of Reno.
  • Best Overall Beer: Boundary's Sour Bake 2016. No other comes close.
  • Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label: I rewrote this one. Whiplash. Sophie has done such a great job on branding. Beer names are awesome too.
  • Best Irish Brewery: Again, for going out on a limb, Boundary Brewing. Honourable mentions to Whiplash and to Hope Brewery for getting off to a great start.
  • Best Overseas Brewery: Cascade of Portland. Enough said, these guys could survive on reputation alone.
  • Best New Brewery Opening 2016: Not so many new breweries, but Hope gets it. Solid start and great potential. (If Whiplash was a physical brewery they'd get it)
  • Pub/Bar of the Year: The old stalwart, the Porterhouse (Parliament St). 57 The Headline too. Both exceptional. State-side, The Beerhive in Salt Lake City, the best craft beer joint in Utah, bar none.
  • Beer Festival of the Year: I've been to exactly two beer festivals in 2016. One was in the RDS. The other was in Snowbird, a ski resort atop the Wasatch Front. Great selection of beer but the fact that it's held over 10,000ft above sea level, where there's still snow in July is enough of a USP for me!
  • Supermarket of the Year: SuperValu. The range is increasing steadily, but still not a patch on....
  • Independent Retailer of the Year: Drinkstore.
  • Online Retailer of the Year: Belgium in a Box.
  • Best Beer Book or Magazine: Beer in the Beehive, a history of brewing in Utah. Did you know the Mormons were pioneers of alcohol? Written by my beer buddy (and owner of the Beerhive in SLC) Del Vance, this is one of the most well-researched beer history books I've ever read (disclaimer: Del gave me my copy of the book). A very close second is Beamish & Crawford - The History of an Irish Brewery.
  • Best Beer Blog or Website: Shut Up About Barclay Perkins. I worked with Ron Pattison during the year to re-create a Murphy's XXX stout recipe from 1916. His blog is always a fascinating read and has been the inspiration for Kernel and others. Of notable mention is the  Utah Beer Blog - written by Mike Riedel, another beer buddy of mine. Nothing goes down in the Utah beer scene without getting mentioned here first. It is the Utah Beer Oracle.
  • Best Beer App: Untappd. Coming into its own, there really is no alternative mobile phone app. Think of it as the international, social media, version of BeoirFinder. A fantastic (the only?) resource if you're in the US, and making great inroads into Ireland too.
  • Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer: The Beer Snobs. Where-ever you go, they're there!
  • Best Brewery Website/Social media: Rye River. I especially liked the video interviews with brewers. I attribute a large part of their success to Liam Tutty and Simon Broderick, though they're a man down now, sadly.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

All Irish Sour Beers Ranked - December 2016 Utappd users.

Click on any heading to sort by that column.

Boundary BrewingChloe Dancer4.2177431
YellowBelly BeerCastaway4.15132114
YellowBelly BeerJack Bauer's Power Shower Sour4.0681844
YellowBelly BeerFor Whom the Sour Trolls4.0518953
Otterbank Brewing Co.Beta Barrel 13.9852917
Boundary BrewingSilver Lining3.9225
Boundary BrewingA Berliner Vice: Derek3.9062516
Galway Bay BreweryGodspeed3.89764254
YellowBelly BeerClub Tropicana3.87534
Hope BeerPeach And Blueberry Sour3.8595973
Kinnegar BrewingWalla Walla3.8453697
Galway Bay BreweryThe Eternalist3.84498229
Boundary BrewingA Berliner Vice #4 - Nearly Nilsson3.8421119
Metalman BrewingSpicy Cucumber And Fruit Sour3.8333315
Kinnegar BrewingSour Grapes3.8176585
Kinnegar BrewingHigh Glen3.81719160
YellowBelly BeerGreat For the Town3.81376149
Trouble BrewingWeisse City3.8073861
Galway Bay BreweryMaybe Next Monday3.78804276
Boundary BrewingA Berliner Vice #23.7870427
Kinnegar BrewingGeuzberry3.7839581
Brown Paper Bag ProjectAul Bruin Bagger3.76042240
Rascals Brewing CoProject Sour: #1 the Hoppy One3.7539763
Boundary BrewingMilk Agitator3.741861
Brown Paper Bag ProjectGöse3.7202484
O'Hara's BreweryWild Side3.687516
Galway Bay BreweryBrigid/Ceasefire Rhubarb Sloe3.66888376
Boundary BrewingPush & Pull: Funkacidic3.6666724
Boundary BrewingSour Bake3.6562532
The White HagThe Púca3.65031642
Metalman BrewingRaspberry Chilli Sour3.6304323
Rascals Brewing CoProject Sour #3: Forest Fruit Sour3.62534
Rascals Brewing CoProject Sour #2: Seriously Saison3.6220943
The Open Gate BreweryDamson Plum Sour3.6093816
Metalman BrewingRazzbeer3.5882434
Galway Bay BrewerySpace Suit3.5828157
The White HagBeann Gulban Irish Heather Sour Ale3.531251392
Galway Bay BreweryHeathen3.52151430
DOT BrewSour Cherry Apricot3.465
Boundary BrewingA Berliner Vice #13.4246673
The White HagSearbh Rua Imperial Sour Red3.22847569
IndependentConnemara Cherry Sour3.18595121
Boundary BrewingVilca Weisse3.17520

It's not perfect, but it's a start. This uses some code I wrote to pull the rankings from Untappd and format them into the table you see above. I manually built the list of beers so let me know if I've missed any.

Untappd doesn't aggregate scores for beers with less than ten ratings, so they don't appear on the list. Most with less than ten seem to be duplicates that were probably entered by users who couldn't find the official brewery entry -- which reminds me, if your brewery has a beer (any beer) coming out, it's a good idea to add it to Untappd before release to make sure you get the check-ins in the right place.

Observations on the list itself: as you can see a few Irish breweries dominate in terms of volume, but there are fifteen breweries there in total. In 2015 that would have been no more than three or four, so things are on the up. The other observation is that by and large all these are quick sours. With barrel projects coming on line hopefully we'll see more complex sours in 2017.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

International Stout Day 2016 -
Brewing Murphy's XXX from 1916 - Part 1

A History Lesson

Earlier this year myself, Mark Nixon and Alain Dekoster visited the UCC Library to have a look through the Murphy's Brewery archives. As 2016 is the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, brews from that time were of particular interest -- some Irish micro breweries released "inspired by" products to capitalise on the occasion, but we went in search of the real thing. The archives contain records from around the foundation of the brewery up in 1856 up until when Heineken took them over in 1983. Our thanks go to the staff at the archives for assisting us on the day.

The Beers

In the 1860s Murphy's had the imaginatively named West India, London Extra, London Porter, Extra London, X Beer, № One, Double Stout, and Common Porter (despite the initial excitement about West India possibly being an IPA, it too was a porter), but by the turn of the 1900s Murphy's had simplified their portfolio to just four beers:
  • Murphy's Plain Porter -- OG 1.045, FG 1.015
  • Murphy's X (stout) -- OG 1.049, FG 1.015
  • Murphy's XX (stout) -- OG 1.067, FG 1.019
  • Murphy's XXX (stout) -- OG 1.087, FG 1.0285


XX grist from 1912
Much to my surprise, Murphy's imported a lot of malt from England. At the time there would have been quite a number of Irish maltsters but transport would have been an issue; bulk loads would need to be shifted by rail and more commonly water, and Cork city has an extensive port. The same maltsters appear over and over again in the records of the time:
  • Gilstrap of Newark on Trent (destroyed by fire in 1930)
  • Donegan*, probably Daniel Donegan & Sons, 19 Merchants Quay (offices and/or stores) and 5 (Lower) John Street (maltings), Cork city (right behind the Murphy's brewery)
  • Donegan Chil, barley from Chile malted by Donegan (thanks Ron!)
  • Riverstown, probably the ale brewery and maltings in Glanmire, opened by Denny Lane in the 1800s, and sold to Murphy's Brewery in 1901, according to this.
  • Thurply - while it sounds English, this was misread by me and is actually Murphy (thanks again Ron!)
  • Thorpe, a massive maltster in Essex. Closed in the 1970s. Some nice information here.
  • J J Murphy*, 4 (Lower) John Street, Cork city. 
  • Ao Calif - this is actually do Calif, which means Californian barley malted by the above, in this case Murphy (thanks yet again Ron!)
  • Bairds, still in existence.
XXX grist from 1911
* Donegan and Murphy appear in the same grists, but they may not have existed at the same time. Searching Guy's Cork City & County Almanacs shows both, but never concurrently. E.g. Donegan is in the 1884 Almanac, but not Murphy. Conversely, while Murphy appears in the 1912 Almanac, Donegan does not.

Common to all grists is Black, origin unknown. Only one malster in Ireland was making patent black malt for sale, Plunkett's of Dublin, but it's quite possible, and even more probable that Murphy's did their own roasting as we know Guinness do. And your eyes don't deceive you: there are no speciality malts other than Black in any of the grists!


X hop load 1912
There were no commercial hop farms in Ireland until around 1961, so all hops were imported. It's documented that conventional wisdom at the time in Guinness was that American hops should make up half the hop load, and it's no surprise to see them in Murphy's too. Unlike the exotic names of today's hops, back then they seem to have taken their names simply from where they were grown, or from the person who grew them. Kents show up in the earlier brewing records, but not from around the time.

  • Burley - possibly from this oast house in Rainham, north Kent.
  • Wacher - unknown, possibly also from Kent
  • Oregons -  Emil Clements Horst had one of the biggest hop plantations in the world at the time and was known to be supply Guinness. More here. Maybe he supplied Murphy's as well.
  • Hallertaus -  From the Hallertau region of Germany, a traditional hop growing area.


Brewing was single infusion mash at around 66 to 67°C for 90 minutes with XXX done in smaller batches for which Mash Tun Number 2 was only ever used. Batch sparge at around 71°C. Boil was 90 minutes.


We don't know the origin of Murphy's yeast, but we do know that it was a very poor attenuator, resulting in full bodied, fairly sweet beer. Attenuation of around 66% was typical. The only Irish ale yeasts commercially available are White Labs WLP-004 and Wyeast 1084, which are known to have originated in Guinness (who currently use two yeasts, which strain is used depends on the market) and attenuate slightly better than 66%. Wyeast 1968, White Labs WLP-002 (both apparently from Fuller's of London), and Danstar Windsor, all English ale yeasts, are probably closer to what Murphy's used in attenuation terms. Update: on further discussion with Ron it's entirely possible that Murphy's yeast came from a London-based brewery. While it's possible it's Fuller's there are another number of likely candidates, Whitbread, Truman, Barclay Perkins, Courage, etc.

Calling in the Big Guns

To faithfully reproduce a beer from the archives, we felt we had to enlist the help of beer historian, Ron Pattison. Ron does one of the best beer blogs in existence, Shut Up About Barclay Perkins; check it out if you haven't already. Ron did a trawl through the records, and we discussed it back and forth for a while. This is the resulting recipe for 5 gallons (imperial) of Murphy's XXX:

94% Pale malt
6% Black malt 
Fuggles 90 mins 4.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 4.00 oz (or Willamette)
Hallertau 20 mins 5.00 oz
OG 1089.1, FG 1028.5, ABV 8.02%, apparent attenuation 68.01%
IBU 127, SRM 35
Mash at 153ºF for 90 mins
Sparge at 160ºF
Boil time 90 minutes
Pitching temp 60ºF
Yeast WLP-004 Irish Ale

Yes, that IBU figure required a double take! Ron confirmed that XXX would have been aged, and possibly blended, which would have reduced bitterness. Even though it would have been relatively sweet 127 odd IBU is too bitter!

Coming up in the Part 2, what I brewed, why I brewed it, and how it turned out....

Saturday, 24 September 2016

US beer odyssey part 2 - Reno

Matt behind the bar at Imbib, foeder, and great beer
With sadness I left Utah early on a Monday morning, the 16th of August, sad because I was leaving Salt Lake City, which had been so wonderful to us for the previous few months, but also because I was saying goodbye to my wife and son with whom I had enjoyed all the great experiences Utah had to offer, I was striking out by myself into the great unknown. Over the next two weeks I would drive 2,640 miles, visiting eight cities, and many great beer establishments.

Superb saison
Google maps said it was just over a seven hour drive on I-80 from Salt Lake City to Reno, and nine and a half hours later I arrived at my lodgings, Harrah's Casino Resort Hotel. $36 a night, plus resort fees and taxes, bringing the total to about $54, a bargain by any standards. I had been advised to avoid Reno and hit for Lake Tahoe instead, but combined with the steep prices at Lake Tahoe and my sense for a bargain, Reno was the clear winner. I had googled before I left about brewpub in Reno, and therein I discovered a gem: Imbib. Just a 10 minute walk from my hotel, this is one of Reno's newest (and smallest) brewpubs.

Slightly off the beaten track -- but then Reno's not exactly a beaten track like Vegas is -- I had one of the best beers I've had in the US: Imbib with an Alibi. A saison that has been made from a blend of two brews, one by Imbib themselves, and aged in a white wine barrel, and the other made by Alibi Ale Works (in Tahoe), aged in a red wine barrel. Fermentation involved two yeasts, before the beers were parked for a relatively short time in barrels. The result is spectacular, classically saison, but with some acidic sharpness that was picked up in the barrels. One of only a few beers I've give five to on Untappd.

Beer menu at Imbib
One of the benefits of visiting a small place is you get the personal touch. Matt (Johnson), one of the owners of Imbib was on duty that night, in an unbusy bar, and we got to have a good chat about Imbib and what they're doing. Their current brewkit is very small, between 300 and 400 litres (he speaks barrels, I speak litres, and we weren't sure of the exact conversion). Additionally, they have a number of barrels, and an American made foeder. The foeder is egg shaped and was a first for the manufacturer, which hasn't gone flawlessly. Unlike other foeders I've seen there are no centre braces and as a result it's starting to sag and split in the middle. It's not leaking, or really a big deal, but the manufacturer has guaranteed it and will replace it.

Imbib has five owners, all brewers, and a few others help out in the taproom etc. They all have day jobs too. A bigger brewkit is on order, which will allow them to achieve wider distribution. All the beers are quality (see the menu, right), something I hope doesn't get lost in the upscale.  All are available on draft only, for now, but the new kit will see it in bottles. I expect to hear a lot more from Imbib in the future, definitely a must-see if you're in the Reno area.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Liked Castaway? Good news! Read on

Castaway, the beer that was prototyped in my kitchen and subsequently brewed by myself and Mark Nixon with Delcan down in Yellowbelly, went down so well that we (well, Mark) decided we make it a trilogy of beers in a similar vain.

Can you guess the fruit?
Number 2 in the trilogy, Castaway's successor (currently nameless) is sitting in a tank in Hope Brewery souring away and will be released in around 6 weeks from now. The fruit in this one was somewhat inspired by a beverage I had sitting on my balcony one sunny July morning in Salt Lake City as we chatted over WhatsApp. I won't give it away yet, but have a look at the photo. This combination hasn't been used in an Irish beer before, so we're super excited and a little nervous! We've dialled back the sourness ever so slightly on this one as we feel that it will go with the fruit a bit better. If you're a fan of sour beers, in general, you won't be disappointed -- it's still going to be well puckering!

We brewed 2,000 litres on September 7th in Hope's super shiny new brewery beside Howth Junction DART station, to be released mainly in bottles but also a limited number of kegs, as a Hope product primarily, but it will be co-branded with Yellowbelly and myself.

One of the things I picked up in the US was a 360-degree camera. Embedding 360-degree photos in a blog is not straightforward, but below is a shot of Hope's lovely Caspary brewhouse, with myself, Declan and Mark on the deck. You can pan and zoom with your mouse.

Even more good news is that today (September 9th) Declan is brewing another batch of Castaway, so the two should be available for your drinking pleasure around the same time! :)

Monday, 27 June 2016

Brewing Castaway

Who knew Stone IPA tasted so good on the move
Some of you will know that I've relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah, for the summer. I had the pleasure of writing this piece on the train from Chicago to Salt Lake, a 1400 mile, 41-hour journey across Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, into Denver (Colorado, for a brief stop) and then across the breath-taking Rockies and on to the Promised Land of Utah. It's a trip of a lifetime and one I would recommend to anyone... Amtrak even have decent craft beer on board!

The view as I type. That's our train, snaking along beside the Colorado river
Mark Nixon, the main man at the new and very impressive Hope Brewery, asked me to do a fruit sour with him after the success of Chloe Dancer. Mark (and Niall Maher of the Corkscrew at Kenny's) had tasted Chloe in Kenny's and really enjoyed it. (Though in fairness they had listened to me blowing off about it for long enough too.)

Mark wanted to produce a dry hopped mango and passion fruit sour beer that had the tart fruit sourness of Chloe but also nodded in the direction of Siren's excellent Calypso, and more importantly one that would be zymurgically unrisky, i.e. the yeast was to be US-05. The reason: so that no commercial brewery would be reluctant to brew it. (As you probably know I have almost universally replaced US-05/WLP-001 with WLP-644 in my brewing)

So I brewed a sour base beer, with a grist of around 25% wheat malt and 75% pale. Pre-acidified and then soured for a couple of days with a mixture of pro-biotic lacto caps down to pH 3.3. I made a yeast starter of half-and-half regular wort and soured wort as I didn't want to acid shock the yeast. I suspected the yeast would be fine as I've fermented pH 3.4 apple juice from our cider man Davy with US-05, but I decided I'd not take the chance. Belt and braces as a risk-averse work colleague used to say.

Once fermentation was looking healthy and well under way I handed the batch to Mark for fruiting. I suggested he split it in two and use mango in one half and passion fruit in the other, and then try blending, rather than putting the whole lot in one brew. Two weeks later we tasted the fruits of our efforts (bad pun intended) and concluded that the mango version was a bit whoaaa! Very mango, it probably could have done with one tenth as much purée to be a beer, but was it was it was definitely one of your five-a-day! The passion fruit on the other hand had nods to Chloe and to Calypso, I think the latter was due to dry hopping. But either way we felt we had out beer.

As timing would have it Mark was between breweries (most readers will know Mark was Head Brewer and Master of Recipes at Trouble for two years prior to joining Hope) when he mentioned it to Declan Nixon of Yellow Belly in Wexford, who suggested it be brewed there. The brew day is well photographed and documented on Yellow Belly's website/blog, so I won't go into it again. Needless to say we had a blast: the whole crew at Simon Lambert & Sons made us feel very welcome but special shouts out to Nicky, Seamus and Danny. Gentlemen, one and all.

So I'm not going to give the recipe for Castaway away, but this should land you in the ballpark. Feel free to dial up the passion fruit and sourness for a hardcore experience, dial it back for something closer to what you might have had before. Either way you'll get an enjoyable beer.

Castaway - A sour passionfruit beer

Makes approximately 20 litres (dependent on passion fruit)
Amount Item Type % or IBU
3.00 kg Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (5.9 EBC) Grain 75.00 %
1.00 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC) Grain 25.00 %
1 Pkgs Your favourite source of lactobacillus Bacteria
1¼ to 2½ kg Passion fruit Purée Yum
1 Pkgs Safale American (DCL Yeast #US-05) Yeast-Ale
20.00 gm Citra [12.00 %] (Dry Hop 3 days) Hops -


  1. The boil is 60 mins before pre acidifying and adding the lactobacillus. Once the lacto has been pitched store at around 30°C for a couple of days. Test for pH and proceed to next step once it has hit 3.6 (sourish) to 3.3 (sour).
  2. Once the pH has been hit you can boil for 15 mins to halt the progress of the lacto. Or you can leave it as is with live lacto, it's up to you. Personally I do the latter at home.
  3. It's a good idea to rehydrate the yeast with some of the sour wort mixed with regular wort to minimise the risk of acid shock.
  4. Once the fermentation is under way, add the passionfruit puree and ferment as normal.
  5. Hopping is optional, maybe mix it up and hop one half but not the other.
At the time of writing Castaway has clocked up 4.22 on Untappd, neck and neck with Chloe Dancer. It's nice to be associated with both :)

Saturday, 28 May 2016

What do The Púca and Chloe Dancer have in common?

March 5th 2016 was Boundary Brewing's first birthday party. For any serious Irish beer lover there was only one place to be: Brewbot in Belfast. The best of the best was on show: a tap take-over featuring Boundary's full range, along with great brews from Simon Lambert & Sons, The White Hag, and Galway Bay.

For me it was the first public outing of my winner of Sourfest 2015, brewed by myself under my good friend Matthew's watchful eye at Boundary, and what a buzz it was. Due to scheduling it didn't go on tap till late in the evening, 9.30pm, by which time John The Beer Nut Duffy was on the last train back to Dublin. Misfortunate as I really wanted John to taste it. Howandever. Taking position on Tap 3 it was a wonderful experience to hear people at the bar say "Tell so-and-so the raspberry sour has gone on" and two hours later it was equally gratifying when Steven Barr, my main man behind the bar, told me "It's all gone". Live fast die young. Since then it went on sale in Glasgow and London where the reception was equally as prompt!

Chloe racked up a healthy 4.32 (currently 4.22) on Untapped once the votes from the launch night were verified, making it one of the highest ranked beers from Ireland.

So to answer the question: What do The Púca and Chloe Dancer have in common? Well, the pre-acidification method I used in Chloe Dancer is also used in An Púca. I find it works very well with fruit sours, but of course Joe used it in his own way and has produced another wonderful beer. Chloe has opened doors for me.... watch this space! #Leviathan

The White Hag's Paul, really digging Chloe
The Púca is fairly widely available as The White Hag's batch size is much bigger than Boundary's. If you see it, buy it, you won't regret it! And Boundary's other beers are as awesome as ever.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Brewing Row 2, Hill 56

Simcoe. A cat pissy, dank, hipster hop that is on nearly every page of BrewDog's DIY Dog. It's impossible to get off contract and even if you do have a contract it may not be entirely fulfilled. Going on BrewDog's published recipes it's easy to see why there might be a shortage: they use a huge quantity.

I was fortunate though to be given quite a lot of Simcoe this year, so much so that I've had to give some of it away in turn. But one thing I wanted to do was a SMaSH, or close to it, that wasn't just stuffed to the balls with hops. It's so easy to give into temptation and shovel them in, but I wanted something more svelte.

Consensus is that Russia River's Row 2 Hill 56 is a damn fine example of a single hop Simcoe pale ale. Deriving its name the row and hill on the hop farm in Yakima where it's grown, it's draught only and only available in the US. So I haven't had it (yet), but that's something I plan to rectify shortly. The recipe below is drawn from a number of internet sources.

20 litres. Single infusion mash at 66°C for one hour, and boiled for one hour. Cleared with gelatin.

Amount Item Type % or IBU
2.90 kg Lager Malt (MCI) (3.9 EBC) Grain 60.66 %
1.56 kg Pale Malt (2 Row) (Castle) (5.9 EBC) Grain 32.63 %
0.32 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (3.9 EBC) Grain 6.70 %
14.00 gm Simcoe [13.00 %] (60 min) Hops 21.2 IBU
14.00 gm Simcoe [13.00 %] (30 min) Hops 16.3 IBU
26.00 gm Simcoe [13.00 %] (0 min) Hops -
50.00 gm Simcoe [13.00 %] (Dry Hop 10 days) Hops -
0.26 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 min) Misc
1 Pkgs Safale American (DCL Yeast #US-05) Yeast-Ale
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.056 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.056 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.015 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.012 SG
Estimated ABV: 5.30 % Actual ABV: 5.74 %
Bitterness: 37.4 IBU Calories: 526 cal/l
Est Color: 8.4 EBC Color:

Tasting Notes

Crystal clear thanks to gelatin with excellent retention and lacing. An unexpected and wonderfully delicate hop aroma and flavour with none of the cat-pissy dankness I've come to associate with the likes of Simcoe, Galaxy, Citra and a couple of others. If you're looking for a simple sessionable hoppy pale ale, this is it.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Experimental Grapefruit Pale Ale

My glass of Elvis Juice at
Brewdog Birmingham
Ever since I first achieved good results brewing with fruit I've been determined to brew with more fruit, fruit juices, purees, concentrates etc. And ever since I first got into craft beer I have been amused by what flavours people have described, the first descriptor that stuck out was "grapefruit". I remember thinking to myself  how the fook could you taste grapefruit from a beer that doesn't have grapefruit in it?

So I decided to brew an American pale ale with 10% grapefruit juice.

My point of reference for a recent brew that I had that ticked the grapefruit box is one by a commercial Irish microbrewer that is almost a SMaSH, and the solitary hop is Mosaic, a hop I'm over-stocked with at the moment. As two litres would be made up from grapefruit juice the batch size only needs to be 18 litres. Grapefruit juice is surprisingly sugary, at 90g per litre for the Tesco juice. I worked this into the calculations as adding a litre of water and 90g of sugar. When it came to priming the maths are the same: one litre of juice contributes 90g of sugar, which would land just a little short of where the carbonation was meant to be, so another 30g of sugar was added to the bottling bucket.

The yeast used was Mauribrew 514 dried ale yeast. I had intended on using WLP-644 originally but didn't grow up enough in time. 514 kind of reminds me of Safale S-04 and indeed it may be the equivalent, but I'm not a fan of either.

Batch size: 18 litres (additional 2 litres to be made up by grapefruit juice)

Amount Item Type % or IBU
4.10 kg Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (5.9 EBC) Grain 94.25 %
0.25 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC) Grain 5.75 %
10.00 gm Hop Extract [51.00 %] (60 min) Hops 65.9 IBU
30.00 gm Mosaic [13.00 %] (0 min) Hops -
1.00 Litre Tesco Grapefruit Juice (Fermenter) Misc
10.00 gm Mauribrew 514 Ale Yeast
1.00 Litre Tesco Grapefruit Juice (Bottling) Misc
30.00 gm Sucrose (Bottling) Misc

Tasting notes
Refreshing, opaque,
bitter, grapefruit
This beer pre-dates BrewDog's excellent Elvis Juice, the only beer this year I've given five stars to on Untappd. Had I seen the recipe for Elvis Juice beforehand I probably would have opted to use grapefruit rind instead of juice, and gone down a different route with the hopping, but my main intention at the time was to see what fermented grapefruit juice would do to a pale ale.

The final beer ended up around 5.3% abv. Due to a screw up with the hop extract I likely ended up with around 30 IBUs, but at the same time there was an intense bitterness from the fermented juice. The grapefruit is there, it's undeniable. It's not the delicate "hop" grapefruit though, it's in-your-face, real flavour. When consumed ice cold it's quite refreshing but if it's any way warmed up the grapefruit really comes to the fore. This was definitely an experimental beer which was educational more than sessionable. It's drinkable in its own right, but no more than maybe two at a time. My buddy in beer Mark after tasting it commented that it may be possible to bitter a beer entirely without hops and set a challenge for us to devise a recipe for a balanced beer, with bitterness, flavour and aroma without using any hops at all, a challenge accepted! 

Beer Ireland Micro Brewed Logo

The Beer Ireland – Micro Brewed logo is an initiative of Beer Ireland Artisan Brewers' Association. The logo was developed to identify and promote beer brewed by independently owned Irish microbreweries.

The Micro Brewed logo identifies to the customer that any craft beer displaying the logo, adheres to the following criteria:
  • The beers have been produced in a brewery on the island of Ireland.
  • The brewery is legally and economically independent of any other brewery.
  • The brewery meets the legal definition of microbrewery.
  • The brewery owners are professional members of Beer Ireland.
To be a member you need to be IBD certified and/or own or work in an independently owned microbrewery producing less than 200khl per annum.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Review: Novax 20 B Brew Pump by Rover Pompe

Summer 2015 I started looking in earnest for a pump to replace my "solar projects" P.0.S that I
blindly bought on someone else's (bad) advice. That pump has never been much use as show it a speck of grain and it jams... and jams so well that the only option is to drop what you're doing and dismantle the damn thing. Once people realise they're garbage and they want something better the usual advice is to buy a Chugger. That has always struck me as odd though, as in all my time spent in micro-breweries I've never seen a Chugger pump; their recommendation seems to originate from the US, where they're made, and where of course they don't have European pumps. So using a US-made pump in Europe doesn't seem to make sense when we have plenty of European made pumps up to the job.

Enter the Novax 20 B from Italian company Rover Pompe. A semi-professional pump intended for transferring beer and wine. The Novax bit means it has Viton® seals, which can be operated at higher temperatures than their regular transfer pumps. I've done a comparison of the home brew Chugger model and the Novax 20 B below, though the 20 B is equivalent to a higher model.

I picked mine up for €102 including shipping from here in September 2015, so this is a long term review.

Chugger CPSS-IN-2Rover Pompe Novax 20 B
Cost delivered to Ireland€150+€102
Country of manufactureUSAItaly
CE MarkNo*Yes
Fittings1/2" NPT (i.e. American) thread3/4" BSP (UK/Irish) thread with 20mm removable barb
Self-primingNoYes, 5 metres
Can be run dryNoYes
Drive typeMagneticDirect w/ thermal shutoff
Head height4.1 metres25 metres
Max flow22.7 litres/min28 litres/min
Active CoolingNoYes (cooling fan)
Overheat Thermal Shut-offNoYes
Head material316 Stainless steelStainless steel
ImpellerPlastic (Polysulfone)Stainless steel
Recommend max temp121°C95°C
Peracetic acidYesYes
Peroxide (Oxy)YesYes
Hydroxide (Caustic)YesYes**
Phosphoric Acid (Starsan)YesYes
Cirtic AcidYesYes
*US-bought 230v Chugger pumps are not CE marked.
** Compatible at normal cleaning concentrations. Not recommended and incompatible at concentrations exceeding 50%

Stainless impeller, Viton® seal
As can be seen in most ways the Rover Pompe model is superior. Magnetic drive is normally preferable but with food grade seals and bearings along with thermal protection and reversible operation direct drive is probably more beneficial. I use this pump for whirlpooling without issues. The body of the pump is passively (fins) and actively cooled (yes, it has a cooling fan!) so I haven't checked the pump body to see if I'm exceeding the 95°C but it works flawlessly. Viton® has a working temperature of twice boiling point.

Now that I've been using my Novax 20 B for several months I can say the things I like most about it in order of preference are:
  • Reversible: Unclog hoses at the flick of a switch
  • Self priming: While it won't self-prime from a height dry it will self-prime dry if it's not far from the surface of the liquid to be pumped. Add a drop of water into the inlet pipe to wet prime and doing so from any height isn't an issue.
  • Powerful: Mixed blessing but this can move, so much so that I had to fit a throttle valve to mine (see below)
  • BSP fittings, so no anxiety about connecting other locally purchased fittings.
3/4" ball valve from B&Q fitted for throttling
Being as powerful as it is this pump will collapse silicone hose on the inlet quite easily due to negative pressure (the manual does state that reinforced hoses should be used). It also pumps way too fast for a lot of jobs, like transferring to the fermenter. There is a version of the pump with a built in bypass valve that can reduce flow by 50% but my understanding is that it's not reversible, and it costs about €35 more. However fitting a throttle valve to it is a simple job. A €6 ball valve from B&Q along with a 3/4" rubber washer and we have a factory-look throttle valve that works perfectly. Note: if doing this you should only throttle the outlet. Throttling the inlet does no harm to the pump but it doesn't work well. You should never throttle the inlet of a pump which can't be run dry like a Chugger as you risk damage to the pump.

Transfer champ

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Chloe Dancer @ Boundary Tap Takeover BrewBot March 5th

Boundary Brewing Co-op turns one this year and to celebrate the taps at BrewBot Belfast are being taken over for the evening by Boundary and friends, starting March 5th at 6pm, and I'm super excited that Chloe Dancer will see its first public availability on tap.

White Hag, Yellow Belly and Galway Bay Brewery will also be on the taps and the brewers will be there to chew the fat. I'll be there too, if you want to stop by and say hello.

Chloe Dancer is extremely rare (for now*) but I'm delighted that a keg is also going to BrewDog Clapham Junction as part of their St. Patrick's week celebration, as well as The Great Scottish Beer Celebration, which is to Glasgow what Indyman is to Manchester.

Boundary's Specials (Border Hopper No. 2 will also be at Brewbot)

Great Scottish Beer Celebration

BrewDog Clapham Junction

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Flanders Red with Blackman F4 Yeast

Barrett Tillman is an award winning US homebrewer who took the unusual steps of finding someone to dry his yeast, lacto and pedio mixes and then release them commercially as dried sour mixes. I ordered the full gamut towards the end of last summer and have been slowly getting around to them. Barrett is a nice guy, I've had a few exchanges with him via email and he even went so far as to include a hand-written personal note with my order. From reading on-line, this is not unusual. Great to see someone who knows customer service out of the box.

The first brew I did was with A4, the American Sour Mix, and I wasn't happy with the results. I didn't blog about it as basically the screw up was my fault. I left the beer to develop in my shed which was too cold for the lacto (probably no more than mid teens centigrade at the best of times), so the sourness never developed. In an effort to kick start it I raised the temperature to around 28°C at which point I was too late, and the yeast just gave off peppery phenolics which some people liked but I didn't care for... and the end result was a million miles from where it was supposed to be.

Early last November Roger (second best sour brewer in Ireland ;)) contacted me to see if I'd be
interested in contributing a Flanders Red style beer to the ex Bushmills barrel in his shed. I hesitated as that barrel used to be in my shed and the Imperial Stout that was in it achieved a whopping 93% attenuation on Nottingham Ale Yeast, clearly not right. Additionally Roger's shed is like mine, unheated. But in the end I said feck it, Roger's a good brewing mate whom I've known for a long time... I'll double batch and it'll give me the chance to try the Blackman F4 Flanders Sour Mix.

40 litre batch, brewed November 30th 2015.

Amount Item Type % or IBU
8.26 kg Pilsner (2 Row) UK (2.0 EBC) Grain 62.29 %
2.40 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC) Grain 18.10 %
0.50 kg Aromatic Malt (51.2 EBC) Grain 3.77 %
0.50 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (118.2 EBC) Grain 3.77 %
0.50 kg Special B Malt (354.6 EBC) Grain 3.77 %
0.50 kg Wheat, Whole (3.3 EBC) Grain 3.77 %
0.40 kg Acid Malt (5.9 EBC) Grain 3.02 %
0.20 kg Amber Malt (43.3 EBC) Grain 1.51 %

A handful of shitty hops in the mash. Roger's original recipe called for EKG which I didn't have, but I have plenty of stale hops for this kind of brew.

Est Original Gravity: 1.074 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.074 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.019 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.021 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 7.16 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 7.06 %
Bitterness: 0.0 IBU Calories: 90 cal/l
Est Color: 33.9 EBC

The mash was fairly thick but I hit all targets, and after a one hour boil I hot-filled two 25 litre jerry cans and left them to cool overnight. Next day the one for Roger got a dose of Mauribrew 514 Ale Yeast and mine got the F4.

This time I decided that the fermenting beer would stay indoors, close to a radiator (just in case!), and I'd be in no rush to move it out. Within a day there was a good krausen on the F4, but that didn't really concern me as the A4 did something similar. It was the lacto and pedio that I was concerned about.

18 January 2016 tasting

Fast forward almost two months and it's time to taste. The results this time are far better than the A4 and the extra warmth of the kitchen seems to have helped. There is a pronounced lactic acidity, no perceivable acetic acid, and the pH of 3.5 confirms that it is moderately tart. The gravity has dropped to 1.021, but with the bacteria in there it's not necessarily 7.06% abv as some of the sugars are now lactic acid, not alcohol, but it's not far off. It's also kind of murky, I'm not sure if it's from me hoofing it around or from the no-chill, it doesn't really matter either way as it's not for drinking yet. Also, and a first for me in any beer, is a huge bang of autolysis, i.e. a strong Bovril flavour.

As there are no Brettanomyces strains at all in this Barrett recommends adding some for added complexity, by way of bottle dregs. I would agree: there is no funk or hint of funk in this beer, and nor will any develop. I think in this case I would go even further and say that brett is not optional as that autolysis needs to be cleaned up, and brett is known for feeding on dead yeast cells.

I always keep a stock of dregs, but unfortunately none are from the Roeselare, but when racking this off the yeast cake I did have a good stock of Hanssens Artisanaal dregs from their Oude Geuze, which is particularly plentiful where I live at the moment, and quite reasonable too at €4.20 a 375ml bottle to take away.

Hopefully time will improve the wobbly start that F4 got off to. These kind of beers are best not rushed anyway, so the racked beer has been put into storage to be revisited in 2017.

10 February Sneaky Peak

Well I'm glad to say the Hanssens dregs were obviously alive and kicking as a nice pellicle has formed :)

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Quare Black IPA

Pac Man meets Wrasslers..
Dave, from the Wexford Mountains, as previously mentioned managed to score himself a bottle of Black's Black IPA from his local SuperValu and was impressed enough to ask me to do another brew, but this time of a black IPA. I had a feeling that Dave was associating the flavour with the colour, whereas that's not the case. What makes Black's Black IPA so unique (and yummy) is the dank and cat-pissy hops: Citra and especially Galaxy.

I didn't have any Galaxy, so I decided rather than clone Black's brew I'd plough my own furrow. I resurrected a recipe for a porter I made with home roasted malt that was truly amazing (someone, I don't remember who, compared it to bottled Wrassler's, but I didn't get that) and subbed in Carafa III for the the roasted malt. The original had just Mosaic and Summit so I decided to stick with that combination but just up the quantity. I had intended on sticking with my favourite yeast, WLP-644, but I got caught short and had to use some dried Mauribrew 514. I picked up a 500g block of this a few years ago, which has been in the fridge since, and it has bailed me out a few times. One thing I have found about this yeast though is that despite claims (which I can't verify) of attenuation in the 80s, it has never broken the 75% barrier for me.

40 litres
Amount Item Type % or IBU
8.00 kg Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (5.9 EBC) Grain 80.00 %
1.00 kg Barley, Flaked (3.3 EBC) Grain 10.00 %
0.50 kg Carafa III (1200.0 EBC) Grain 5.00 %
0.30 kg Wheat, Torrified (3.3 EBC) Grain 3.00 %
0.20 kg Corn, Flaked (2.6 EBC) Grain 2.00 %
100.00 gm Pearle [7.00 %] (60 min) Hops 40.5 IBU
100.00 gm Summit [17.00 %] (0 min) Hops -
100.00 gm Mosaic [11.00 %] (0 min) Hops -
1 Pkgs Ale (Mauribrew #514) Yeast-Ale

Dave's batch dry hopped for 5 days with 35g each of Summit and Mosaic
My batch dry hopped for 5 days with 40g of Amarillo and 20g Hallertau Hersbrucker

Est Original Gravity: 1.056 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.057 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.016 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.016 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.31 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 5.35 %
Bitterness: 40.5 IBU Calories: 541 cal/l
Est Color: 53.7 EBC
The resulting beer came out black as expected, and Dave's had a greater degree of dankness, whereas mine was a bit smoother with orangey Amarillo flavour. Surprisingly I preferred mine, as while neither were close to Black's, mine was further from it. One thing I would probably not do again was the flaked barley. This left a silky smoothness that doesn't seem quite right in a beer like this, so I'd omit it if brewing again.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Golden Pint Awards 2015

Better late than never, my take on these popular awards.
  • Best Irish Keg Beer: Tough one as it's such a moving target. Some stalwarts have dropped in quality, and at the same time there are some great new entries... but you can always rely on Porterhouse Hop Head. Honourable mentions go to Carrig for Poachers Pale Ale, and Metalman for their once game-changing Pale Ale, which is still a great beer all these years later.
  • Best Irish Bottled Beer: That basically throws the whole floor open. I quite enjoyed Black's Black IPA, one of the best black IPAs anywhere, as I did The White Hag's excellent Black Boar imperial stout, and their Beann Gulban (Ben Bulben) sour heather ale. Pokertree's Dark Nirvana is also excellent, and a little different, but I'm giving this one to a new-comer: Kevin Dundon and his King's Bay Irish Pale Ale.
  • Best Irish Canned Beer: Not a lot to chose from but the concensus seems to be Black's KPA. I'd go along with that. 
  • Best Overseas Draught Beer: We're fortunate in that some of the best new breweries in Britain are getting an outing in Ireland, among them is Siren. While not widely available, it can usually be found in the better bars and it goes to their red IPA, Liquid Mistress.
  • Best Overseas Bottled Beer: Boon Mariage Parfait. All day long. Close seconds are similarly sour beers from Belgium that are easily gotten in Ireland: Liefmans Cuvee Brut (formerly Kriek), Liefmans Goudenband, Gueuze/Oude Geuze by Hanssens Artisanaal, Tilquin and Cantillon. Oh, and Siren Calypso.
  • Best Overseas Canned Beer: We've had an increasing number of imported canned beers, and Beavertown produced Quelle Saison, I think the only Saison that I've truly enjoyed enough to buy again.
  • Best Collaboration Brew: I'm not sure if it's a beer collaboration brew as such, but my buddy in beer Alain Dekoster of RadikAle did Curious Brew with gin botanicals from Blackwater Distillery. Alain is Belgium's premier Irish resident brewer, so it's not altogether unsurprising that he's making great beer.
  • Best Overall Beer: The White Hag's imperial stout, Black Boar. Kinnegar's Geuzberry comes second.
  • Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label: Brú probably have the clearest and most instantly recognisable branding, but I think Galway Bay go one better with more interesting names, the non-core beers especially.
  • Best Irish Brewery: For sheer business acumen, dogged determination in the face of criticism and meteoric rise this has to be Rye River, one of the biggest players in the Irish micro scene. In beer terms this goes to those who will take the biggest risks to brew great beer: Boundary and Simon Lambert & Sons.
  • Best Overseas Brewery: It's been a great year for the Brits and I've really enjoyed brews from Wild Beer Company, Buxton, BBN, and Siren this year, but ultimately it goes back to Belgium and Boon takes it as I got to visit it this year and spend two wonderful days at a beer festival there as part of Toer de Geuze.
  • Best New Brewery Opening 2015: Going to give this to the small guys, again for showing their willingness to take chances. Boundary, Simon Lambert & Sons, The Old Schoolhouse, and if contract brewers are allowed, RadikAle and James Brown Brews.
  • Pub/Bar of the Year: Brewbot Brewbot Brewbot. Brewbot of Belfast. Head and shoulders above the rest. The best selection of beer under one roof in Ireland. Great staff, great food, and all beers available for offsales at a 20% discount. Honourable mentions to the Porterhouse (Parliament St), 57 The Headline and the Beer Market.
  • Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2015:  Brewbot. Honourable mention to the Beer Market.
  • Beer Festival of the Year: Would you prefer to see your favourite band in Vicar Street or in the 3Arena? Exactly. Out this year were the mega festivals and in were the smaller boutique festivals where the vibe is more important than piling them high. Kilkenny Craft Beer Festival, as run by beer buddy and owner of Costello's Brewing Company, Gerald Costello, pips it. Fantastically organised and run by Ger and his family this was a lovely way to spend a few hours. There is nothing negative I could say about this festival. Close seconds were those run by Simon Broderick and Wayne & Janice Dunne. Overseas festival it would be Tilquin English Beer Festival, so good that it's to be repeated this year... where else could you drink Calypso and Oude Gueuze Tilquin à L'Ancienne under one roof?
  • Supermarket of the Year: I'm somewhat reluctantly giving this to SuperValu, for beer selection alone as I find SuperValu to be one of the most expensive supermarkets in Ireland for everything, including beer. A reluctant recommendation.
  • Independent Retailer of the Year: Bier Tempel. In Ireland, Drinkstore, with honourable mentions going to Worldwide Wines in Waterford, and Belfast's Vineyard and Lighthouse Wines.
  • Online Retailer of the Year: Belgium in a Box.
  • Best Beer Book or Magazine: Unusual Railway Pubs, Refreshment Rooms and Ale Trains. Considering every major railway station in Ireland had a "refreshment room" and now only three have (Connolly, Heuston and Belfast Central), this is a reminder of what we could still have.
  • Best Beer Blog or Website: Without doubt Milk The Funk, which has lifted the lid on sour beers and increased our understanding of them more in one year than any other website or publication. Though the real value is in the 5,000 strong Facebook group.
  • Best Beer App: I'm still using BeerSmith 1.4 almost daily, so I guess that must be it. Honourable mention goes to the mobile app BeoirFinder although it is decreasing in usefulness more and more now that craft beer has become so prevalent.
  • Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer: Not big enough of a Twitterer to recommend anyone.
  • Best Brewery Website/Social media: Eight Degrees, simply as they are the only brewery selling beer from their website (I'm aware that Galway Bay are also selling via their website, but from what I can work out this is technically off-sales from one of their bars, and not the brewery itself selling direct).