Thursday, 30 October 2008

Galway and The Great Irish Beer Festival - Part 2

My comrades Beer Mat and Beer Goggles turned up in due course and after they got a bite to eat we headed up to The Black Box to the festival, stepping around the broken umbrellas and puddles as we went. I have never seen so many dead umbrellas in any city, there were hundreds of them. A testament to the earlier weather and the lack of concern for littering and rubbish in this country. (and many others of course.)

We arrived around six and the place was fairly packed. We headed first to the Gordon Biersch/Speakeasy importer to see what was on offer.

I had read about these on the ICB site and thanks to The Beer Nut so decided to try the Gordon Biersch range first, beginning with the Hefeweizen. The tasting notes had mentioned banana and bubble gum but I didn’t believe it until I took a whiff. Well it certainly did smell of both, the taste being a little more subtle with a little malt and spice coming through. It was a really nice beer, refreshing and easy to drink. Next up was the Marzen, a sweet, spicy beer without being cloying. A fine and tasty beer indeed. I had decided that I would not try the Blond Bock as I thought it might be too rich and sweet but I was splitting bottles with BG so I said I’d try it. It wasn’t bad but not to my taste, perhaps it was after the Marzen, which was so good. A great start to the day, this was a great-tasting range. We decided to move on to another stand and leave the Speakeasy until tomorrow.

Seating was a bit disastrous at the event. There was a scattering of picnic tables and a few chairs. Apart from that you had to stand at tall tables or sprawl on the ground.  Certainly not an ideal arrangement, surely a few more picnic tables could have been bought. It’s been a bad summer, they’d be cheap now!

We snuck in on a tall table that was quite full already and had a look at the list I had printed out. (Yes. I am that sad/efficient! Delete as applicable.) We decided on the Gulpener Korenwolf. With its blue bottle and hamster on the label it certainly looked appealing. Taste wise we thought it ok but didn’t blow us away. I got a bit of spiciness but not as good as I thought it should. A mix of flavours with a bit of lemon to the fore but the taste didn’t seem to last. I think I might have to try it again in other circumstances as I feel I might have missed something.

Next up was the Well’s Banana Bread Beer which was ok actually. I really did exactly what it said on the bottle. I’m not sure I need to say more.

After that, we moved on to the Weihenstephan range. BM and I had tried them at a tasting in Kilkenny and I was keen to try them again. We went first for the HefeWeissbier Dunkel and it was nice to get these in proper glasses and not the plastic ones. This caught me by surprise as I smelled of the seashore! It was quite rich in taste though with flavour of bitter banana and spices, perhaps a bit of clove and a touch of lemon. Not bad at all.

As we drank we commented on the amount of young people there and decided this was a good thing. They were experiencing something other than ‘the usual’ in the pubs. However much you would lament the lack of Irish beers there, it would still seem that this festival was a good thing. Not perfect but still a good thing.

The food was quite good.  One stand selling German style food and another selling a mixture of continental style sandwiches and stews. BM and I had the Krakeaur (Bacon sausage) and BG had a chick pea and roasted vegetable stew. All were excellent.

We decided to continue on the Weihenstephan beer and picked the Vitus next. Wow this was good! It was sweet, tasty and spicy but, again, not in a sickly or cloying way. Loads of sweet barbecue banana with cloves and a bit of malt. A super beer, this would be hard to beat.

By now we had been joined by The Cider Girls and another mate from Dublin. The CGs were working their way through the cider on offer and the odd beer. Time was pushing on and we decided to have one last beer  here for tonight.  BM picked a Maisel Weisse Dunkel to keep us in the same general area. It was smooth, very smooth and subtle. I couldn’t pick up a lot in taste but I think that we had maybe gone one to far here so I will reserve judgement for another time.

It was now ten and most people still here were either very merry or worse but there was no hassle.

 I have to say that I was quite cheery myself but not too bad really. Just in need of a walk and some more food.

So off we toddled into the night.


Alistair Reece said...

A bottle of Duff snuck in there...was it any good or did it live up to its name?

Liam said...

My mate Beer Mat got one. He thought it was ok, I thought it was shockin' stuff. Really bitter and not in a good way. Mind you at that stage of the night I couldn't judge things to much....