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Don't worry be hoppy
Without in any way having to compromise on quality, this was the year when craft ales, lagers, stouts, porters, and – well, whatever you’re having yourself! – hit the mainstream and proved that we truly are a nation of beer lovers.
Stuart Clark, 24 Oct 2012
The same love is invested into Windfall, a 4.7% ABV premium sparking cider, which is available both in bottles and on draught (winefoodbeer.com).
The chances of Cam, an Australian, and Scott, a Kiwi, ending up in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork together were fairly slim, but thank goodness they did or otherwise the beer world would have been deprived of the very fine Eight Degrees Brewing (eightdegrees.ie). Committed to making modern interpretations of traditional Irish beers, their Howling Gale Ale, Knockmealdown Porter, Sunburnt Irish Red and Barefoot Bohemian Pilsner – great names! – have proved so popular that they’ve recently made it on to the shelves at Tesco.
They won more plaudits last month with their limited-edition 6.4% ABV Marzen-style Ochtober Fest lager, and over the next few weeks will be unleashing the latest batch of A Winter’s Ale, a 7.5% ABV orange, cloves and star anise Christmas seasonal, which Team HP can’t recommend too highly.
Proudly flying the flag for craft brews – and live music!– in Roscommon Town is JJ Harlow’s, a wonderful old school bar on Market Square that for the past two years has been run by Caitlín McConn and Brian Mugan.
“Yes, it was our second birthday the other day,” Brian says. “We’ve lots of Irish craft beers like Galway Hooker, Eight Degrees, O’Hara’s and The Porterhouse bottles; English ale’s on cask including the Fuller’s range; and a lot of Belgian, Czech, German and other international beers. We’ve put new piping in, so we’ll be adding more Irish draught beers in the coming months. Some people were sceptical at first, but we really are in the middle of an Irish brewing revolution.”
Saturday nights at JJ’s are devoted to rock ‘n’ roll with The Calvinists, Barley Mob and Jukebox Gypsy all attracting big crowds this year, and Túcan among the bands who’ll be playing in the run-up to Christmas – see the bar’s Facebook page for details.
“There’s huge enthusiasm locally for the gigs,” Brian resumes. “We put a really good PA and lights in and have the well-known Mullingar promoter Dave McGlynn booking for us, so it’s a nice place for bands to play. We’re also jammed on Sunday afternoons for our trad and bluegrass sessions.”