Added to your cart

  • Free Delivery over £100
  • Sustainably Brewed & Distilled in Southwold
  • Award-winning Beers, Wines & Spirits

Fergus: The Perils of Twitter

By Fergus Fitzgerald, also posted in News on

Fergus and panelists at the Electric PicnicWe’ve been sending bottled beer over to Ireland for a few years now, but recently we’ve also been sending over a small amount of keg Innovation as well. As often happens I got chatting via Twitter to Colin, part owner of two of Dublin’s finest craft beer pubs in W.J. Kavanaghs and L Mulligan Grocer. Colin is also behind the Brown Paper Bag Project which aims to brew small batch experimental beer styles. I don’t remember how it came about but Colin asked if I would like to get involved in a beer vs wine event he was organising at a music festival in Ireland. I also don’t remember how I agreed. So, tent packed I headed off to Ireland for a few days at the end of August to go to The Electric Picnic. The idea behind the event was to match a beer and a wine to three dishes served up by chef Paul Flynn from The Tannery. There was a team of three on each side. Joining Colin and me on the beer side was Seaneen, also part owner of the W.J. Kananagh and Mulligans team. While Colin looks after the beer side of things for the bars, when he’s not helping out in the kitchen and lopping off the tops of his fingers, Seaneen focuses on the food. Fergus at The Electric PicnicPutting wine’s best foot forward was Shane Murphy, former Berry Bros & Rudd sommelier and head wine manager for La Rousse foods, Caroline Byrne, editor of McKenna's Food Guides and wine writer with The Irish Garden Magazine and Dermot Nolan, Master of Wine. A couple of days before, a menu was emailed over and we suggested a few beer matches that we thought might work. I hate matching to food from a menu without getting to taste it first (getting my excuses in early), however we were all in the same boat. The first dish was a pea and mint soup with crubeen fritters (for the non-Irish amongst you crubeens are boiled pigs feet). Next up was Skeaghanore Duck Breast, Sweet Potato, Garden Beetroot, Baby Turnip. And finally, Chocolate Fondant with Vanilla Pannacotta. We finally settled on Innovation with the soup, Trinity (a Belgian triple that Colin had brewed and re-fermented with champagne yeast) with the Duck and Boon Kriek with the dessert. The wine team went for Telmo Rodriguez, El Transistor with the soup, Proyecto Garnacha Olvidada, Aragon, with the duck and for the dessert a Mas Amiel, Maury. I did have to ask Colin for the wine list to write this up as I was enjoying a Trinity at the time. On the day, five members of the audience were picked at random, although somehow food and wine writer from the Irish Examiner, Leslie Williams, managed to find himself at the table. We each gave a little talk about the match with some wholly unsound facts to back-up why we thought our chosen beverage was better and why the alternative was the spawn of the Devil. The loudest cheers were for our argument that beer laid the foundations of civilization as we know it, while on the wine side their strongest argument rested on the entirely suspect assertion that beer is not conducive to romance due to its gaseous nature. Caroline though managed to sum it up in much fewer words. The select five audience members were then asked to vote on the best match with each course. The Electric PicnicI have to break it to you that Innovation lost out to the wine, and probably rightly so, it was a little too big and the crubeens weren’t as large a part of the dish as I’d envisaged. For the second course the panel went with beer, much to Colin’s delight, as Trinity is a new release for him and then we were down to the dessert. After the drama of a re-pour due to an infected bottle the panel came down very much in favour of beer. As is usually the case with these events, the result isn’t really important, it does help, but the main purpose is to get people to think about beer differently, to think about beer as an option with food and something that can be appreciated rather than something that must only be consumed in multiples of pints. Afterwards I caught up with Dean from Beer Heaven, our importers in Ireland as well as Claire and Tom from Dungarvan Brewing Co. and a couple from Dublin who are opening up a brewery next year. I really enjoyed the trip, brief though it was. I haven’t lived in Ireland for over 16 years now and my visits back home are mostly short and consumed with catching up with family (it is a large family) as well as explaining why I’ve lost my accent, when as far as most people around Adnams are concerned they can barely understand me. I don’t often get to see the beer culture in Ireland but this visit and conversations with some very knowledgeable people suggests that where I once thought the craft beer sector in Ireland was emerging, my latest visit tells me it’s now in bloom.    


Fergus Fitzgerald