Its been a while since I've featured Irish beers on this blog; so hopefully this post goes some way to redressing that omission. As I mentioned in my post earlier this year, Carlow were the first brewery in Ireland to collaborate with an international brewer (to my knowledge!) with Lublin to Dublin, an oatmeal stout brewed with Pinta last year ( which was very well received, coming in as 4th best Irish beer on RateBeer). I've just received a bottle of this year's release sticking to similar themes but as a milk stout this time around. Last year Polish hops were used, I'm not sure what they brought to the party this time as it was again brewed at Carlow.
So how does this years stack up? In my mind it betters even last years excellent release, with a full bodied chocolatey slightly milky mocha taste. This is no sickly sweet dessert beer however, being a proper robust porter first and foremost with the lactose accentuating rather than dominating the flavour profile. Seems the Beer Nut agrees with me.

Carlow also teamed up with American brewer Starr Hill to brew foreign affair, a red IPA. Of course IPA these days is a catch all term and often the beer is very different from even the modern reinterpretation of India Pale Ales. Colour aside, this one makes a good fist at the style being both hoppy and bitter thanks to the Falconners flight hop blend employed; though perhaps a little excessively due to an ABV on the low side at 4.8%. I'm a big fan of hoppy amber ales and there's much to like however with a decent level of carbonation, Big body for its strength and fresh hoppiness with red berry notes. but there's something in this one that doesn't sit right for me with a savoury almost meaty quality that jars somewhat with a tannic nettley bitterness.

Carlow also sent me a cider and hop adventure sorachi ace which I'd previously tried with my own coin. The former I found to be an entry level dryish uncomplex affair but rather enjoyed the latter, the malt bill allowing sorachi ace hops to work their magic - but very much an acquired taste. I'm looking forward to seeing more collaborations with from Carlow, particularly the promised Beoir beer. I also hope to hear whether they decided to use blogger input they gleaned from the conference in Dublin last year to inspire any of their beers.

Thank you to Carlow for sending me the samples, all the beers featured in this post are available bottled from all the usual suspects.


Dear Old Donegal

By local artist Barry Britton
This coming weekend sees the sophomore edition of the Wild Atlantic Craft beer festival hosted at Dicey O'Reilly's in Ballyshannon, Donegal (home of Donegal Brewing). Last year's event was a roaring success by all accounts with a number of new beers launched and hoards of punters' thirsts satiated. This year should be no different with an expanded programme of meet the brewer events, fresh cooked curries and beers pouring from at least thirteen breweries* including seven beers from the hosts (a new mild amongst them!);  with plenty of other beers available in bottled format from the well-stocked Dicey's off-licence.

Alongside the beer is a packed schedule of live music with styles to suit all tastes and with the Folk Festival happening in town at the same time plenty to maintain your interest if beer isn't enough to drag you out of your living rooms (why not?!)

Crowds enjoying the sun last August
Local beer festivals like this are an area where there's massive potential for growth in Ireland, but particularly in these parts, where the beer event calendar is fairly thin on the ground (of course bolstered this year by the ABV fest in Belfast). If you have a licensed premises why not consider running an event of your own? By my reckoning there are at least 48 weekends to choose from!

If you fancy popping along to the festival doors open 7PM on Friday 31st July and from 2PM Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd August. Kick out time is 2AM each day; so plenty of time to sample everything. You can also call in for a tour of the brewery to find out where the beer is made and drink it at source. Brewer Brendan looks forward to seeing you all!

Find out more:
(00353) 086 2836914

Friday 7pm: Beerhall Opens
7pm: The Beer Garden Folk/Trad. Session
10pm:  Night Time Trad/Folk Session

Saturday: 2pm: Beer Hall Opens
4pm: The Early Session
5pm: Chandpur Indian Food – Beerhall
5pm Meet The Brewer Session with
Richard from Black Donkey
7pm: The Tea Time Session
8pm: Meet the Brewer Session
with David from Northbound
11pm: The BIG Saturday Night
“Busy Fools”

Sunday: 2pm: Beerhall opens
5pm: Chandpur Indian Food – Beerhall
5pm: Lazy Afternoon Bluegrass Session
5pm: Meet the Brewer Session with
Gordy from Inismacsaint Brewery
 8pm: The Last Trad Hooley
10pm: Festival Farewell Gig

*Current beer list
Eight Degrees Nelson Saison
Eight Degrees Full Irish
Trouble Brewing Simcoe Smash
Saltaire Kola Black IPA
To oL Friends with benefits
Chimay White
Wicklow Wolf IPA
Black Donkey Sheep Stealer
Brooklyn Lager
Thornbridge Jaipur
Donegal Porter
Beavertown Neck Oil IPA
 Laguntias Pale Ale
Metalman Windjammer
Donegal Session IPA
Donegal Pale Ale
Donegal Atlantic Amber
Donegal Mild Ale
Donegal Blonde


What's Lego-ing on?

Far too often beer reviews can be staid an boring (perhaps I've been guilty of that too?); so its always nice to come across and interesting and refreshing take that's a bit more fun too. Pottering around Facebook t'other day I came across a page called Beer Farts. Being a bit puerile I clicked on and found the page to be full of well-taken pictures of beer - but with a twist; every beer is paired with a Lego character. I also like that there's usually a short topical comment linking beer with current affairs in beer and wider world. Being a fan of both Lego and beer I got in touch with the creator to find out a bit more.

Who is behind beer farts and where did the name come from?
Hi, I'm Tom, based in London and I take the photos (and drink the beers !). When brewers etc meet me they always say ‘oh, you’re not what I was expecting’. They may be expecting some strange guy that plays with Lego but I am normal. I promise! 
I toyed with a few names but once I landed on Beer Farts it stuck. It seemed to catch people’s eye and make them laugh.  

Punk IPA
How did you come up with the idea to use Lego?
I was given a Lego set as a gift after seeing the Lego movie last year. I was already posting photos of my favourite beers and decided to include the Lego in one. It turned out to be quite popular and at all started from there. 

What comes first , the beer or the Lego?
The beer is always first. I just then try to work the appropriate Lego in with the beer. That can be difficult if I cannot get the Lego man I want. I've had to hold out for weeks to try a beer because I wanted the right figure for the photo. A little sad I know.

 Where did you get such an array of figures; do you have to carry them all around with you?
I am always buying new ones from local toy shops, online and even charity shops. Sadly, yes I do carry some with me almost everywhere. I don’t want to miss a shot! Planning ahead can be tricky though.

Beavertown Honest Pale
What is your favourite Lego set/ character; are there any that don't exist which you'd like to see?
My favourite set is the Back to the Future set. I love the movies so I love this set too. The hotdog mini figure still makes me laugh though, he is a great one.
After the success of The Simpsons two series I’d love Lego to make a Family Guy series. I think that would work great. I’m also excited for the release of the Big Bang Theory set that is coming out soon.

What has been your favourite review?
One of my recent favourites is the post for Beavertown’s Skull King. Not only is the beer great but their can designs are always so crazy. I’m always happy when I can make a character to match those on the can design. The can designs alone make for great photos.

What do you enjoy most about using Lego alongside words to convey your thoughts on beers?
It makes people laugh and beer is meant to be fun after all. Lots of people post photos of beers; I find the Lego men are a great way of making my posts stand out. I hope people see the photos and then are interested to read what I’ve said about the beer.
Do you have a favourite beer style and is there a beer you'd really like to review using Lego?
My favourite style has to be IPA, whether it’s traditional British style or West Coast. I’d really like to try and review Heady Topper as I hear so many good things about it. I’m sure I could find a good Lego to go with that!

Which beer so far has been most enjoyable?
This is almost impossible to answer. I’ve had so many good ones. Some of my favourites include; Firestone Walker’s Union Jack IPA, Camden Town’s IHL, The Kernel’s IPA, Russian River’s Pliny The Elder, Meantime IPA, Ballast Point Sculpin' and Stone’s Japanese Green Tea IPA. 

What character would you choose for the following "whale" beers:
·        Pliny the Elder – I have a Roman Emperor that could play Pliny
·        Three Floyds Dark Lord -  A medieval knight would work great here I think.
·        Old Chimneys King Henry – The King from the latest series looks like a young King Henry VIII. He works very well for any ‘King’ named beer.  
·        Cantillon Blaeber – The cowboy would be perfect for this.

Thank you to Tom for taking the time to answer my questions, hopefully you check out his work, its good fun!
Beer Farts is on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and also has a few blog posts here.