When one hears the term "Secret Beer Garden", one could be forgiven for assuming that only a select few might know about such a place. However it seemed a fair portion of Dublin was in Dundrum two weeks ago for the 2013 Deveney's Secret Garden Beer Festival. Indeed it was hard not to notice the beer festival since it was located in the Dundrum town centre in a very public plaza.
Ruth Deveney who organises the event each year, was running around trying to keep things running smoothly and here's the thing. It was her birthday! I don't think she got to drink a single beer on the day. That's dedication.
To be honest, the last time I was at this festival, it was the first one that was held in the Bull and Castle all those years ago. Things are a little bigger these days. Unlike most beer festivals in Ireland, this is not about Irish breweries, though some do have a presence. This is more a beer festival celebrating all the good beer you can get in a good off license.
Molson Coors had a stand featuring their "Craft Collection". Recently purchased Franciscan Well featured with a new IPA and a Coffee Porter. I will write more about these beers later in the month after their official launch. Worthington's and Sharp's beers were also proudly displayed. Less deserving to be there perhaps was Blue Moon but the interesting thing was the new (to Ireland) versions of blue moon. This will make a lot of American Ex-Pats very happy, my wife included.
One of the few Irish breweries that were there with a stand was Trouble Brewing. I'm a massive fan of their Dark Arts porter but this time they had the second version of their Sabotage IPA. Unlike the first one, which finished too high meaning all the hops were lost in a sweet sticky body, this one is almost perfect. Almost because while the flavour is there, the aroma is somewhat lacking. Not to worry, version 3 is already hot on its heels and should be what they are trying to achieve.
I never did find out what the point of the random apparel hanging from the beam down the middle of the tent was for. Ambiance perhaps?
5 Lamps were there too with beer on tap. This picture was from the night before where I tried it. You know what? It's not too bad of a lager. That said, it's certainly not something I would drink on a regular basis.
Abstrakt AB:13 was on the 4 corners stand, and remember, most stands are run by importers and 4 corners import Brewdog beers among many others. AB13 was seriously impressive. Perhaps the best one yet.
I eventually made my way over to a stand that had a load of beers I have never seen before. A lot of them were from New Zealand. I don't recall the name of the importer but it turns out most of the beers in the pictures below are available in Redmonds in Ranelagh.
They had some very limited edition beers that they made available at certain times throughout the day. These were Welsh I believe. The one pictured above was Danish Monster and it wasn't the best beer of the day by any stretch of the imagination.
The rest of the beers pictured below (including hopwired above) were some of the stars of the festival.
They were absolutely beautiful and I will have to keep an eye out for them and buy them because as regular readers will know, I tend not to take tasting notes at beer festivals. At a certain point, I just won't be coherent enough to do it justice. Plus it's far too noisy and awkward to stand up and taste beer and then write what you think.
And now I'm going to save the best for last. When we first walked in to the beer festival, and by we I mean myself and fellow Beoir member Andrew. Andrew is responsible for the BeoirFinder app which allows you to easily find where the nearest establishment that serves Irish Craft beer is located.On a side note, both of us are running for the position of Chair in Beoir so it was a great conversation piece when talking to brewers and distributors alike. I'm digressing, anyway the first stand we walked over to was The Brown Paper Bag Project.
They recently re-branded and like the jagged top to their labels. That said, I think it's a missed opportunity to not use brown paper on the labels. The interesting thing is the icons. Each beer has an icon that's very obvious so if you are looking in a fridge for a beer, you will see this icon and recognise it before you read the name of the beer.
Oxman was great but the real star was the new version of Dr Rudi, their Belgian ale hopped with Dr Rudi. It's sort of like a Belgian/New Zealand IPA. It was fantastic and Colin was there for a chat. You might recall that the last time I had Dr Rudi, it was pretty bad. The beer didn't age well. True to his word, Colin recalled all the bottles left on shelves and replaced them with the new version. Fear not over potentially wasted beer.
The old ones will be used to make a range of sauces for their pubs.