Over the weekend of February 27th to March 1st the Alltech Craft Brew & Food Fair took place, for a third time, in Dublin’s Convention Centre. Traditionally the event was geared more towards those with an interest in craft beer and ciders. This year the event diversified somewhat and included a range of culinary delights to cater for those with more of a food persuasion.
Tickets for the event were €15 per day and included a souvenir cup, program and four tokens. Unfortunately there was no option to buy a weekend pass at a discounted rate, which is something I’d personally like to see should they decide to return. I’m sure it would prove popular.
There were about 60 breweries and distilleries, 12 food stands and a handful of other food and drink related stands set up.
In terms of drinks offerings there was the usual mix of craft beers, ciders and even a couple of whiskeys and liqueurs thrown in. Quick visual run down of some of the ciders and liqueurs below.
Bluegrass Sundown kind of like an Irish Coffee and very tasty, is part of the Lexington Brewing and Distillery company.The flavoured liqueurs from Ruby Blue were a firm favourite I have to say. The chilli pepper one will certainly give you a kick. They are frequently used to make Kir Royale’s along with a host of other cocktails.
A great tasting cider from MacIvors a family run business from Co. Armagh. Available in medium and dry.
Another great cider brand Tempted Cider were also in attendance. I had tried them out previously at a tasting event in Ely and have to say their Summer Sweet variety will be in my hand this Summer for sure.
The last of the cider brands I got to try out was Dan Kellys Cider which is made in the Boyne Valley in Drogheda. The brother sister team on the stand were showcasing a new cider which was a reduced carbonated one. It’s great to see these family run businesses evolving and trying out new products to keep a head of the game. The cider of course was great and the staff, well I’d buy the cider alone just to chat to them, they were great fun.
The main stage at the event also had a number of bands playing including Amazing Apples and Interskalactic. While enjoyable I have to say, for the space and the event the volume was too high. It was actually difficult to have a conversation and also hard for those on the stands to hear what I was trying to order.
In terms of food offerings a few familiar faces were on show. Donal Skehans Skoff Pies of course. He seems to be doing the rounds with heavy promotion of his products. Quite enjoyable I have to say and I’ve tried the entire range at this point.
Seymours from Cork, who make a range of biscuits were showcasing their Social Circle offerings. Each box contains a mix of Cardamom Orange and Vanilla Pecan.
O’Donnells Crisps were on hand with their award winning Hickory BBQ flavour which won the Blas na hEireann Gold Medal in 2013. I’m now a convert I have to say.
Found at all good markets and fairs Man of Aran fudge had a great range of products on offer.
And of course no Craft Beer event would be complete without the stars of the shows, the craft beers. I didn’t get a chance to try that many but there was a wide range of beer producers at the event including the following.
The only drawbacks for me surrounding the event were a real lack of seats. While I understand the aim is to get people circulating around the various stands, it’s not exactly easy to drink a beer and eat a pie while standing. I suspect more people would spend a bit more time at the event if they could sit down and enjoy the music, drink and food all at once.
Also, the Dublin Craft Beer Cup was awarded on the Friday evening. The winners were Coisbo. The awarding of the cup was all a little underwhelming I have to say. It might perhaps have been better to highlight it a little more and award it on the Sunday to a much bigger audience. These distillers/brewers work very hard and I’d hate to see an award such as this not get the fanfare it deserves.