The inaugural International Craft Brewing and Distilling Convention in Dublin has just finished. Fancy an ultra-quick summary? Alltech (the organisers) nailed it.
Alltech are one of those mad companies that just seem to do everything. You want some animal feed with your Bourbon barrel-aged Ale while watching the World Equestrian Championships? Well, Alltech are there for you. This lot are based in Lexington Kentucky (and worldwide) and were founded by an Irish bloke, Pearse Lyons, many moons ago – Pearse (Dr Pearse to give him his full credit) loves yeast. Mad for the stuff, so he is. And he’s built up a billion dollar business around it – so far play to him. He’s in no mood to stop either – his next goal is to get his company to the four billion mark…lend us a tenner eh Pearse?
There were some sceptics prior to the event (myself included) – they only booked the venue (the huge, glitzy, expensive Convention Centre in Dublin) a few weeks ago. Some odd balls-up with pricing structure saw the cost of attending plummet from an initial five hundred odd quid to a more sensible 65 – teething problems, evidently (plus, I guess not many folks had five hundred notes burning a hole in their wallets so they had to reduce the price to get bums on seats). Upon entering the event, however, all of this was forgotten.
All the company staff I encountered were an absolute credit to their line of work – top bunch of lads and lasses who were delighted to be in Dublin and even more delighted that we were there with them having a good time.
The lectures I attended were fascinating – Mark Lyons (son of ‘The Doctor’) gave a brilliant presentation about the rise of craft beer in China…did you know that if the Chinese drank as much beer as the Irish (per capita), their beer market would be 10% larger than the rest of the world’s combined? Crikey. Mark also brought us big samples of the company’s flagship Bourbon Barrel Ale to teach us how to toast in Chinese. 8.2% ABV at 11:30am. No wonder I didn’t make the second day lectures. (I ended up the day being professionally langered). Other interesting stuff about building an environmentally sustainable brewery and general beer-related entrepreneurship was great too.
Now, as well as putting on a good event, Alltech didn’t miss the opportunity to lay on their branding and self-promotion with a massive big old ladle – lots of company backslapping – but, hey, with the amount of cash they ploughed into this event, they’d have been well within their rights to force us all to get ‘I luv Pearse Lyons’ tattooed on our foreheads.
The beer and food expo in the basement was to be my undoing, however. Incredible beers from cracking UK breweries Beavertown, Great Heck, and Hardknott were all on tap – the first time any of them had seen the light of day in Ireland. Needless to say, I went to town on these. Irish beers were there in force too, and although I prioritised sinking as much Beavertown Gamma Ray as humanly possible, it was great to see the foreign convention attendees sampling Irish brews and really enjoying them. I heard lots of praise being dished out to White Gypsy’s Mustang and Galway Bay’s Buried at Sea – good job lads. Kudos to the lads from J.W. Sweetman’s for bravely bringing beer cocktails to the table – although I’m not convinced with their actual worth, they were surprisingly (and dangerously) drinkable. Lots of delicious food on offer too from local and international producers. So many cracking beer people were in attendance – all the familiar faces from the Irish scene with a whole host of other lovely folks from British and American breweries. Beer people most certainly are good people.
A final word of thanks must go to two of Alltech’s team, Will and Sarah, who made all the bloggers feel unbelievably welcome by setting up a tasting of all the entries from the Dublin Beer Cup. Three Floyds, Stone, Dogfish Head, Founders…the list goes on. Although the blame definitely lies with them for the horrendous state I was in on Saturday. I was like a moving DrinkAware advert with a conference lanyard.
So, I can’t tell you much about Saturday (other that I spent the day on the sofa), but no doubt one of my fellow bloggers will sum it up well.
Cheers Alltech, see you next year!