This year I've done a set of Golden pints just for Ireland because I want to highlight what a fantastic selection we have here. Indeed one of my top five rated brewers this year is Irish. Read on below for more:
I've had a busy year supping almost 200 Irish beers and Ciders in 2014. We've been truly spoilt with 25 new breweries opening in the last 12months alone, almost doubling the total on the island. This should continue apace in 2015 as there are already 16 breweries (that we* know of!) in the planning phases. I'll post a summary of these new openings in the next few days but for now, here's my "best of the best" for 2014.
Best Keg Beer Blacks Kinsale Pale Ale was fantastically fresh at the brewery when we visited for our Beoir brewday in 2014. Honourable mention to the much applauded Galway Bay of Foam and Fury
Best Bottled Beer A last minute entry Beoir Chorca Riasc Black is just everything you would want from a porter, with added blackberries to boot. Took me by surprise and one of my top overall beers (regardless of origin)Try it whilst its available! Eight degrees Double Irish was excellent, Irish Whiskey Aged Leann Follain s;lipped down far too smoothly. Far too many others to mention!
Best collaboration brew Eight Degrees/By The Horns Horn8's nest took the best elements of weisse and IPA to produce an excellent hop-forward hopfenweisse. Brown Paper Bag Project/ Fano Gose was also superb and one I hope will be rebrewed.
Best Overall Beer White Gypsy scarlet, the first proper sour in Ireland, refreshing, full of flavour and hopefully not a one off!
Best Brewery would have to be awarded to Eight Degrees, for a solid, hop forward and varied range of releases this year.
Best NI Brewery Pokertree continue to impress with Dark Nirvana being seriously impressive
Best New Brewery Opening 2014 Its been hard to keep track of them, thic and fast openings this year. I'll pick Mescan for their unsual but solid raft or Belgian inspired offerings.
Pub/Bar of the Year Norseman (nee Farringtons) for the excellent range of beers and providing a location for thirsty beer bloggers/ homebrew meets/ impromptu bottle shares. They also now have a taplist on their website, which helps we who are looking to sample new beers no end!
57 The Headline has a proper backstreet local feel to it, lovely interior, solid range of beer and (I've heard) decent food.
Best beer and food pairing Franciscan Well Chieftan and Burger & Chips
Beer Festival of the Year Only been to the ICBCF which is obviously the best anyway
Supermarket of the Year M&S has yet again proven itself with a great range of single hopped beers.
Independent/Online Retailer of the Year Drinkstore is the stalwart but was also impressed by selection, prices and speed of delivery from Bradleys of Cork
Best Beer Book or Magazine Slainte is an excellent guide to Irish breweries as at September 2014. I'm looking forward to more editions of BeoirMag too.
Best Brewery Website/Social media Brown Paper Bag Project for release events and excellent manning of the Twitter for questions answering.
Most Anticipated Brewery Opening 2015. Jointly between Belfast Brewing and Boundary Brewing...The North is going to be very different beerwise this time next year!