Menu: Celebrate craft beers with an Indie Beer Week tasting pack

— and King of Kefir effervescent drinks are just wonderful for sipping in the sun
Menu: Celebrate craft beers with an Indie Beer Week tasting pack

Irish craft brewers Sam Black (Black’s, Kinsale), Claire Dalton (Dungarvan Brew Co), Adrienne Heslin (West Kerry Brewery) and Eoin Lynch (Cotton Ball Brewing) will this year celebrate beer Indie Beer Week online

Craft beers

Indie Beer Week (May 17-22) is always an excellent celebration of the local indigenous small craft brewers and microbreweries that backbone the vibrant and wonderful Irish Craft Beer sector. 

Like so many other such gatherings, it is forced this year to go online for the 4th Indie Beer Week — but with wonderful beers delivered to your door so that you can enjoy full participation in the online tasting sessions (May 20-22).

Indie Beer Week is a collaborative event organised by the Association of Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland (ICBI) in conjunction with Beer Cloud and Craic Beer Community. 

And throughout the week, the usual array of community events introducing the public to the small brewers in their locality will instead head online with the Irish public invited to meet the people behind the brews, learn more about their favourite brewed beverages, hear about exciting new arrivals and learn to separate the genuine locally-brewed Irish Craft Beer from the lesser offerings from the industrial sector and further afield.

Individual tasting packs are limited so immediate ordering (from beercloud.ie) is advised, with all three available for a special price.

Basic cookery skills and masterclasses online

Award-winning pastry chef Aoife Noonan is just one of a roster of star chef tutors delivering online masterclasses for Sprig Cookery School
Award-winning pastry chef Aoife Noonan is just one of a roster of star chef tutors delivering online masterclasses for Sprig Cookery School

Sprig Cookery School and founder chef, Eamon Lynch, (an experienced chef, also a former teacher at Dublin Cookery School) is offering a tempting array of online cookery classes until it is safe for live classes to resume. Classes are divided into three different sections:

  • Basics (for inexperienced cooks)
  • Technical (covering specific skills or areas, eg knife skills, pasta, bread, pastry)

and

  • Explore (covering specific cuisines eg Indian curries, Spanish tapas, Mexican tacos)

What is especially appealing is the roster of Irish food stars he has also roped in to deliver online masterclasses. They include Grainne O’Keefe (Culinary Director of BuJo Burger Joint), Niall Sabongi (Chef & Restaurateur of Klaw, The Seafood Café and Salty Buoy Food Truck), award-winning Pastry Chef Aoife Noonan and Brian Donnelly (Bia Rebel Ramen), with classes from May 14, €49 each with nationwide delivery of ingredients for certain classes. sprigcookery.com

Food writing awards

The Irish Food Writing Awards, an initiative by writer and broadcaster Suzanne Campbell, are designed to celebrate the high quality of food and drink writing in Ireland across print, broadcast and online.

Prior to the pandemic, the Irish hospitality sector had been fast developing an international reputation for the technical skill and consummate creativity with which it delivers to the plate some of the very finest produce available anywhere in the world from our superb producers, growers, farmers and fishermen. 

While it is they who deserve the credit for a thoroughly deserved international reputation, food writers have contributed to spreading the gospel, at home and abroad, and it is nice to see them being recognised.

Campbell has assembled a truly stellar array of international judges (including Rene Redzepi, Tom Parker Bowles, Xanthe Clay, Fiona Beckett, Joanna Blythman, Jay Rayner and Colman Andrews) to ensure absolute integrity in the judging process while the categories run the gamut, from restaurant criticism to investigative journalism and so much more in between. 

Members of the public can also nominate favourite writers (online until May 21) and awards will be announce in September. 

Burren Slow Food Festival

The Burren Slow Food Festival is one of The Menu’s most favourite reasons for visiting one of his most favourite of all places. It seems that the carrier pigeon tasked with bringing news of this year’s (online) celebration of its rich food culture, with a theme of the Fertile Rock of The Burren, was so overly respectful of the 5km limitation then prevailing that The Menu was late in his receipt of advance warning. 

However, it is still possible to catch up with the remaining days of the festival (until May) to whet the appetite whet for when it will be safe to return to The Burren once more.

Today's Special

Cucumber, Thyme & Mint, from King of Kefir’s delicious range of water kefir drinks that have very much taken The Menu’s fancy
Cucumber, Thyme & Mint, from King of Kefir’s delicious range of water kefir drinks that have very much taken The Menu’s fancy

Now that mass-produced ‘kefirs’ (pasteurised, to prolong shelf life but in the process killing all the wonderful gut-friendly bacteria, one of its primary benefits) masquerading as the real deal have hit the shelves of the major multiples, it means greater confusion for the consumer in search of the real deal. So The Menu is delighted to feature King of Kefir in that latter category. 

It's a quite splendid range of water kefir drinks, all naturally fermented (bottle conditioned for 14 days) using natural vegan-friendly and gluten-free ingredients and with absolutely no preservatives, emulsifiers or stabilisers.

Flavours are amongst the most sublimely assembled and balanced profiles of any water kefir The Menu has tasted in many a long moon and he speaks as a keen home kefir brewer highly appreciative of the alchemy and craft at work.

Possessed of a becoming effervescence, they make for wonderful sipping in the sun, from the gently citric Lemongrass & Ginger to the punchier — but only just — Chilli and Ginger. 

Hopped Culture provides all the thirst-quenching of a crisp, hopped beer but without any of the alcohol but The Menu’s favourite is Cucumber, Mint & Thyme — the unique freshness of cucumber to the fore followed closely by that magical complexity of mint crossed with thyme.

And if that all weren’t enough, they also pair superbly with food. 

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