The dust has settled and the heads cleared, so it’s time to recap on this years Alltech Craft Brews and Food Festival.
I’d heard nothing but good things about this event and knew I had to get down and see it for myself.
Unfortunately I’m also incredibly unorganised and before I knew it, it was only 10 days before the festival and I hadn’t sorted tickets, accommodation or even how I’d get down to Dublin.
The tickets weren’t a problem, being the internationally read blogger that I am (shockingly true lol)
So because of that, I was able to score a couple of media passes to the whole 3 day event.
The accommodation proved much more difficult to sort, with several other events happening in the city that weekend, not least the Ireland v Scotland rugby, hotel beds were in short supply and at inflated prices.
I’d decided I’d just take the train down and back up the same day, but once again my tardiness had resulted and the train times I needed being already sold out.
It looked like it wasn’t going to happen for me but thankfully I’m married to one of life’s true angels, who offered to drive us.
Aside from the 6 hours total driving and about the same amount of time at a beer festival that she couldn’t even have a drink at, she also filled in as my photographer, note taker and after several beers, essentially my carer, it’s more than most wives would do, so a MASSIVE thanks to Mrs Hallion.
After we’d picked up our passes and glasses we walked a lap of the inside of the convention centre to get a feel for the place and scout out what I should choose as my first beer of the day.
First thing that struck me about this festival was the scale of the venue, by a long way it’s the biggest beer festival I’ve attended in Ireland.
The acres of floor space allowed them to allocate a personal stall to each of the exhibitors. It was like dozens of individual bars all under one roof, as opposed to a single massive bar with a line of taps like you get at many beer festivals.
Despite a sellout crowd, there was plenty of room for everyone, with ample seating. We never even had to queue to order a beer and there was plenty of time to talk to the people behind the bars, many of whom were the brewers themselves.
Rascals Brewing Co
Happy Days Session Pale Ale 4.1%
I started sensibly (it didn’t last) with a wee session Pale Ale from Rascals, I’ve rarely had a beer from Rascals that I didn’t like and this is no exception. Whilst low ABV (relatively speaking) it packed a punch of flavour, a lovely clean citrus kick with a floral finish, a great way to start any day.
Strawberry Vanilla Shake
Milkshake IPA 5%
Mrs Hallion ordered this one, even though I’d pointed out it was an IPA and she’s not fond of that style. She quite liked it, definitely more than any other IPA she’d had but was disappointed not to get a more intense flavour of strawberry and vanilla.
I finished of the rest of it and could see what she meant, the strawberry and vanilla flavours were subtle but I didn’t mind that, I still wanted to know I was drinking a beer. I’m assuming it was brewed with plenty of oats and maybe wheat, definitely some lactose, this gave it an amazing sweet creamy mouthfeel that imitates the effect of a milkshake perfectly.
We were worried we’d miss the rugby, with myself being Irish and Mrs Hallion being
a loser Scottish, it’s a big match in our house, But our concern was uncalled for, there were large screens all around the venue for those who were interested and there were many.
Needless to say Ireland were victorious and after a few tears from Mrs Hallion and threats to leave me in Dublin if I gloated, we got round to seeking out more beer.
Hopfully Brewing Co
We were drawn towards Hopfullys stall by their eye catching artwork.
We chatted to the guys about the branding and their brews which were interesting to say the least, several of them completely new taste combinations to me.
Most exhibitors will give you a taster or two at no charge and I pushed this option to the limit at Hopfully’s stand.
I tried almost the entire range, from Beetjuice, a beetroot infused saison with sage and thyme that messes with your pallet, to their Baniwa Chilli, another saison that starts subtly but finishes with a strong heat.
California Common 5.4%
I eventually picked one to sample in full. Sakura is single hopped with Japanese Sorachi Ace hops.
It was crisp, clean very dry and extremely refreshing with a beautiful floral nose. It was the perfect beer to cleanse the pallet after my mid rugby snacks.
Let’s take a moment to mention those snacks and some of the other food on option, this was after all a craft brews AND food festival.
We started light with some tortilla chips and beer infused jams from Gibney’s Garden Preserves.
I wasn’t sure about tortilla chips with jams but the sweet and salty combination was great. My favourite was the Stout Jelly made with McGargles Export Stout, I’d love to pair it with a really mature cheddar. (Actually intended on going back and buying a jar, but my memory was “impaired” by then)
There was plenty to choose from if you were peckish, from popcorn to pies, sausage to sushi.
We were drawn by the smell to Smokin Bones, a low and slow barbecue joint.
We both ordered pulled pork rolls which Mrs Hallion tells me were great. Unfortunately while we were waiting on them getting put together for us I spied a sample bowl of chilli sauce, it had signs pointing to it and warning of extreme heat, personally I have a low tolerance for spice so I’ve no idea why I did what I did next.
I took a piece of cracker and scooped up a large quantity of the sauce, and knocked it back.
Needless to say the signs were there for good reason, and my mouth was set ablaze like a tiki torch at a Trump rally.
My taste (and vision) eventually returned after I downed a half of dry cider from Scotts Irish Cider, which was a fantastic cider by the way even if I didn’t treat it with the respect deserved due to my flaming agony.
Lough Gill Brewery
Flanders Red Ale
Barrel aged 7.1%
With a range on offer as interesting and the one pictured above I was in heaven.
I wanted to get a taster of them all and started with the Flanders red, curious to see how they’d take on the style.
As soon as it hit my tongue though all thoughts of sampling anything else went out the window. To quote the notes Mrs Hallion had been keeping for me
“This is f*#king amazing!”
A slightly more professional description would be, a medium bodied red ale, on the nose it’s funky as it should be with a hint of red berries. Quite sour, with strong dried fruit notes and black raspberry. Tartness at the back of the mouth and a dry tannin finish.
This was the only beer I posted on social media about during the event as I couldn’t wait to tell people about it.
Seriously, this Flanders red is as good as any I’ve had in Belgium.
Rye River Brewing
Belgian Imperial Stout
This was the only beer intentionally sought out.
Only released a few days prior, it’s the first seasonal special from Rye River and I’d heard rave reviews from everyone at the launch night.
I wasn’t disappointed, lovely velvety mouthfeel, strong aroma of coffee on the nose, malt biscuit and dark chocolate notes were very prominent, with a bitter coffee finish.
Basically everything you want from an imperial stout. Only wish this beer wasn’t a seasonal as I could drink it all year round.
By this stage of the day my memory of events get a little blurry….
But going by my notes I also drank;
Larkins Brewing Co:
Chocolate and coconut stout
Long meadow IPA
Red something (this was given to me for free after my wife hugged the Scotsman behind the bar)
12 Acres Brewing Co:
I can’t give you a proper description of these ones but I’m pretty sure they were great.
In fact I never had an average beer the whole day, everything on offer was top quality.
A big part of attending this event for me (apart from the beer obviously) was the chance to meet up with fellow bloggers and beer fans. Many of whom I’ve only known on twitter.
So a big shout out to all those I tortured with my drunken ramblings.
Love you guys! 😘
I’m a bit late getting this blog finished up, as usual I write 99% straight away but then it’s a week or two before I finish it off.
Anyway the Alltech Craft Brews and Food Festival was fantastic, if you’ve never been I strongly suggest you get yourself there next year.
As for me I can’t wait, but next year I promise to be more organised and get accommodation booked well in advance.
Can’t promise I’ll be better behaved though, I am a Hallion after all!!!