The craft brewers of Ireland recently competed in the second Beer of the Year competition. Each brewery was permitted to enter one beer. The brewers then judge the beers (blind) along with a few members of the press.
Astral Grains Foreign Export Stout won silver last year and joint gold this year so obviously this is a stout that impresses judges. Made by Lineman Brewery in Rathcoole, Co Dublin, it is a full-bodied smooth stout with roast coffee and dark chocolate. Vivienne Lucy from Lineman was understandably pleased. “Astral Grains was the first or second beer we made and it has been a consistent seller ever since.” As to its success, she says it is a beer with a lovely rich flavour and real depth. The 7.2 per cent abv make it a perfect fireside drink, although I suspect it would also go well with beef stews.
The other joint winner was Spear Irish Whiskey Barrel Aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout from the Lough Gill brewery in Sligo. At 25, Jordan Donnelly is one of the youngest master brewers in the country. “We laid this beer down in ex-Oloroso, ex-whiskey hogsheads from Boann Distillery in December 2020,” James Ward, mananging director at Lough Gill tells me. “We tasted it every month and feel we pulled these at just the right time.” It is part of a series produced by the brewery. Boann has provided more casks, and the brewery hopes to release a new batch in December.
In third place was Common Element Extra Pale Ale brewed by Dead Centre in Athlone. All three beers are available online and through specialist off-licences. See icbi.ie for further details.