This weekend the Irish Craft Beer Festival is taking place in Dublin. Unfortunately we’re feeling the pinch at the moment and can’t go, so we decided to have our own craft beer fest at home!
A whole variety of beers from Irish craft breweries and some tasty snacks, which Isis seems a little too interested in. The crisps are from O’ Donnells, who were originally farmers but are now also makers of some of the nicest posh crisps on the market. These are from Tipperary potatoes and the cider vinegar in this flavour comes from an apple farm in Tipperary also. Lovely stuff. I find a lot of salt and vinegar type crisps are either not vegan (milk powder in bloody everything!) or are so heavy on the flavourings that they almost burn the tastebuds. No thanks. Their barbeque flavour are also vegan and really good, but I couldn’t find any in the shop.
The chocolate is a big bar of “cooking chocolate” from O’ Conaill’s artisan chocolatiers in Cork. Amazing stuff. Naturally gluten free and vegan, it makes the most incredible brownies as well as being good applied directly to the mouth 🙂
….but on to the main event.
All of these delicious craft beers are Irish and vegan.
Howling Gale Ale is first, produced in Cork by Eight Degrees. This stuff is amazing, and they also produce a good red ale as well.
Trouble Brewing produce a range of bottled and draught beers and are based about 20 miles from my house. Lovely beers and lovely packaging. This is their Deception Golden Ale.
Next is a great blonde ale, Helvick Gold, from the Dungarvan Brewing Company. I used to go to Irish language summer school just outside Dungarvan when I was a teenager, and spent many sunny afternoons on Helvick beach, which is entirely covered in stones. Their brews are almost all named after places in the Waterford area.
The next three beers are from the Carlow Brewing Company. Curim is one of my favourite craft beers. It’s nice and light and perfect for a warm afternoon and a lazy lunch. They also produce a great stout that makes a certain famous Irish one look like ditchwater, again under the O’ Hara’s name.
Last up is Bay Ale from the Galway Bay Brewery, and is a new one to me. The master brewer replied to my email personally to let me know that all of their beers are vegan except for the milk chocolate one (he’s a vegetarian himself!).
I wasn’t a beer fan at all until the last couple of years, when I discovered the world of craft beer. It may sound terribly pretentious, but these beers are a million miles away from that pale fizzy water that leaves taps all over the country in streams every weekend.
While your milage may vary, almost every Irish craft beer that I’ve looked at is naturally vegan (unless it has the word milk in the title, like the Galway milk chocolate beer). It’s a matter of pride, it seems, among the breweries – if your beer needs things like isinglass and eggs to clarify it (eeeewwww!!) then “you’re doing it wrong”. Even companies that brew stouts, which are almost always filtered with isinglass in big commercial breweries are largely filtered with naturally vegan substances in the craft breweries.
This is all good news for fans of tasty, tasty alcoholic beverages who want to get away from the commercial rubbish. It’s also great news for vegans as more and more of these fantastic local, independant companies are producing really top class beers that we can partake in.