July 19th saw the start of the International Brewing and Distilling Convention in Dublin. It was a sort of last minute affair with the organisers, Alltech, only deciding about 6 weeks beforehand that they would hold it. Six weeks later, they put on a hell of a good convention and especially good going considering the short preparation time. There was also a music event the night before and I went to the first half which was the woodsongs old time radio hour. It was broadcast live to 173 countries around the world. I rather enjoyed it actually. Bluegrass music is similar to Irish music and it was great to listen to.
The format was sort of twofold. There was the expo which ran all day and featured stands that were either related to brewing and distilling in some way, or the odd food stand featuring tasty local produce such as Sheridan's cheeses, always a welcome sight at a beer festival. Beer and cheese pairing is a great way to pass the time.
The other format were the talks and workshops that took place on the Friday and Saturday.
The National Homebrew Club, of which I'm a member, had a fantastic stand and it drew a lot of attention due to the interactive nature of homebrew equipment and the fact it's something anyone can get in to at any age.
Even Metalman's Grainne ended up talking about homebrew on the stand, although that was by accident I believe. Never mind, as well as being a professional brewer, Grainne started out homebrewing just like many of us and she never forgets her roots.
|Will and Rossa preparing a brew.|
TheBeerNut showing us what the official twitter hash tag was, though for the sake of transparency, that picture was taken after the conference officially ended and we were in the press room doing a beer tasting. I'll be writing about that next.
|Anne from Hardknott.|
I attended a couple of talks on technical brewing but by far the most fun was the tasting session. I missed the first half on Friday and went in for the second half and then on Saturday I decided to head back in for the first half.
Tim O'Rourke, Beer Sommelier, brewer, author and general beer encyclopaedia was an fine form during his talks which ranged from general beer tasting from 11 in the morning, to off flavours in the afternoon and then more beer tasting. I ended up staying for the full day and going through the off flavours again in the afternoon. I'm glad I did because we had some different beers to the Friday afterwards.
The view of the city from the top level in the convention centre is pretty amazing, especially when the sun is shining like it was. This is rare in Dublin, and we had a few weeks of proper summer.
At the end of the conference, Dr Pears Lyons, the man who set up Alltech after moving from Ireland to the USA in 1976 and in 1980, he set up Alltech in his garage. Today Alltech is headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky, Alltech has offices and distributors in 128 countries; 3 bioscience centres; and 32 manufacturing facilities located strategically throughout the world including the European headquarters in Dunboyne, Ireland.
Anne and Dave from the Hardknott brewery showing off the two beers that won them bronze medal in the Dublin Beer Cup. There was fierce competition from around the world.
It wasn't perfect, the main gripe is the music. There was no need for live music or Irish dancing in the expo, especially not so early on. In fact I think people started leaving to get some quiet. It made the sensory sessions impossible because we couldn't hear the person talking about beer or whiskey etc.
Alltech have announced they will be holding it again next year, though this time in March for some reason. Personally I think July is a better month. Either way, I look forward to next year and look forward to see if they can better the experience with a year of planning.