The Menu: Raise a glass to Indie Beer Week

You may have noticed a recent spate of TV ads, chockfull of ‘authentic’ beardy home brewers, as the Big Brewers attempt to pass off their own industrially-produced wares as somehow comparable or even superior to the new wave of genuine Irish craft beers. 

In addition, new faux ‘craft’ beers, cannily labelled to cloud the fact they also originate in the industrial sector, are taking up space on the shelves alongside the real thing, further muddying the waters. 

In other words, the big brewers have noticed the discerning Irish drinker’s rapidly growing interest in good craft beers and, while The Menu reckons the obvious answer would be to raise the standards of their own products, they are instead fighting back which is why he urges all to give fulsome support to Indie Beer Week (June 23-July 2).

Craft breweries throughout the 32 counties are inviting their local communities to join in a celebration of genuine Irish beer and brewing with all manner of wonderful eating and drinking opportunities and fun events (including a Metalman scavenger hunt around Waterford City).

In fact, wherever you look, local brewers will be working with other local food producers, crafts workers, artists and musicians to offer a community-based experience.

(Calendar of events:


On the subject of beer, the Cork Ale Trail is a splendid local initiative by some of the original stars of the city’s craft beer scene (including Abbot’s Ale House, Bierhaus, The Friary, Bradley’s Specialist Off-Licence & Foodstore & Franciscan Well Brew Pub) to develop a ‘community’ for local imbibers with a loyalty card reward scheme and a new sponsoring craft brewer each month from around the country. 


The School of Culinary Arts and Food Technology in DIT, Cathal Brugha Street have launched Ireland’s first Masters in Gastronomy and Food Studies, commencing this September and of equal interest to industry professionals, food enthusiasts and graduates seeking careers in tourism, media, government agencies, NGO’s and the Agri-Food industry. 


The family-friendly Westport Food Festival (23-25 June 2017) in lovely Mayo offers workshops (for kids as well), tours and chef demos and a market crammed with food and beverage stalls.

Events include a Fast Food Race, in which children compete over an obstacle course while balancing plates of food and the very splendid black tie Midsummer Banquet includes wine pairings from an old Menu fave, Cabot’s of Westport. 


Transplanted chef Bob Cairns, on foot of the success of his inaugural Glensallagh Gardens pop-up, near Ballydehob, in West Cork, returns, this time with a Midsummer Supper, five courses featuring exquisite West Cork produce, much of it grown by Bob himself and supplemented by some of the area’s finest producers, served up in a gorgeous venue. 

Bia Sasta’s ‘Critics’ dinner returns with another chance for diners to operate as food critics on the night, this time at lovely Longueville House (June 22), for a drinks reception followed by tasting menu. 


The Menu is delighted to herald Cork-based baker Irena Tammik’s Norse Rye, and her sourdough rye bread made from nothing other than stone ground organic whole grain rye flour, water and Himalayan salt, the only ingredients required to make real bread. 

Though traditional rye sourdough may present as a dense little block, the class of weapon you’d bring to a faction fight, tasting is a different matter and Irena’s version, a home recipe from her native Estonia, has such a lovely moist, chewy crumb structure and earthy rye notes shot through with tangy ‘sour’ undertones, that it all makes for delightful eating, especially fine with Silver Darlings pickled herrings and sour cream. 

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