Irish Beer

My bike trip to Ireland last week with TEAM CRAZY BIRD, essentially culminated with us attending Day 1 of the Doolin Craft Beer and Roots Festival in Doolin IE on Friday night, an enjoyable event made all the more rewarding because some of us on the team completed a 10 mile hike along the Cliffs of Moher late that afternoon.

Several craft beer manufacturers, all from western Ireland, offered samples of their beers to fest attendees. It was €10 to get in. They gave us a pint glass to drink craft beer from, which was ours to keep. The vendors offered sample tastes of their beers for free and then you could get a half pint for €3 or a full pint for €5. My strategy was to sample two or three of the beers offered by each vendor and then get a pint of the one I liked best. In the course of the night, I only managed to hit three vendors, because the team was on a timetable to catch our minivan back to Galway (the price you pay for a designated driver).

I'd like to be able to tell you what Irish craft beers I liked best, but I can't...mostly because I don't remember and I didn't write it down, but also because in all honesty, I liked all the ones I tried. If you are in western Ireland, definitely try some of the craft beers there.

From what the Irish liaisons to our bike team told us, Ireland had not had much of a craft beer market up until about the past five years. Responding to the growing craft beer demand worldwide, Guinness started making a craft beer (or perhaps craft-style beer, since it appeared to be mass produced much like their staple, Guinness stout) called Hop House 13. It was a good and flavorful beer, I thought. I did not find it overly hoppy as its name would indicate, but it had bold flavor.

I have never had much of a taste for Guinness stout, but the Hop House 13 was totally different and great tasting.

Some of the craft beers I saw in Ireland were marketed as "hand crafted," and I kept trying to visualize the awkwardness of brew masters handling the beer. Better terms could probably have been found.

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