Festival offers help-yourself beer tastings

Kilkenny Craft Beer Festival takes an innovative approach to showcasing Irish beers

At Kilkenny Craft Beer Festival you pay €20 entry, drink as much as you feel like, and pour for yourself

At Kilkenny Craft Beer Festival you pay €20 entry, drink as much as you feel like, and pour for yourself

 

“Grab a glass” is first on the list of instructions at a help-yourself style beer tasting event at the recent Kilkenny Craft Beer Festival. It’s just one of the tips – including “taste from light to dark” and “cleanse the palate” – to help you navigate some 200 bottles set out for the Taste Them All evening.

It’s a simple idea: you pay €20 entry; drink as much as you feel like; and pour for yourself. The tables of Irish beers are separated into styles: pale ales and IPAs, reds, stouts, lagers and specialty. Around the room are periodic tables of beer styles and other titbits of information so you can build on your beer wisdom as you go.    

It’s a relaxed, easy-going event and the self-service approach means you’re not stuck with a glass of beer that you’re not that into; and you can go back and try more of something you really liked. You can also pair your beer selection with some of the tasty morsels delivered from Anocht Restaurant – mini fish cakes, cheese plates, honey and mustard sausages.

Parallel tastings are a great way to really get to know your beer styles, compare versions, and find your favourite lager or IPA (and spark conversations about the constant changing of styles and rule-breaking in craft brewing, if you feel like it).

One of my favourites on the night was Trouble Brewing’s raspberry Berliner weisse, Stone Barrel’s C no Evil, a very tasty IPA, Costellos pale ale, and Kelly Mountain Brew’s black IPA.  

The usual, and slightly tired, format for most beer festivals is rows of stalls in a massive hall – so it’s great to see a more imaginative approach. Organised by local brewery Costellos, the Kilkenny Craft Beer Festival is very much about its scenic setting, with craft beer trails and tastings, and microbreweries paired with the many, many lovely pubs dotted around the city.

@ITbeerista beerista@irishtimes.com

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