Crafty Stuff: Paul McConville samples award-winning Irish ales

Paul McConville

Paul McConville

Paul is the Irish News sports editor. He has worked for the newspaper since 2003 as a sub-editor and sports reporter. He also writes a weekly column on craft beer.

Surrender to The Void by Whiplash is this year's Beoir Beer of The Year
Surrender to The Void by Whiplash is this year's Beoir Beer of The Year

LAST week it was the Baftas and the Grammys, next week it's the turn of the Academy Awards.

Awards season is in full swing, so what better time to assess the top gongs handed out at Ireland's 'beer Oscars' last week – the Beoir Beer of The Year awards.

With Irish brewers upping their game of late with some top notch double IPAs, it was perhaps fitting that a beer of that style carried off the 2017 Beer of The Year award.

McGargles' Francis' Big Bangin IPA and Galway Bay's Of Foam and Fury are both great beers, but Surrender to The Void by gypsy brewers Whiplash got the nod from the judges.

Brewed at Rye River in Co Kildare, it packs an upfront punch of hops but once you get used to that, there's a lovely grapefruit flavour. There's a clean, crisp feel to it and it's quite light on the malt and has wonderfully bitter finish – far too easy to drink at 8.5 per cent.

The first runner-up is something a touch more sessionable. Little Fawn from Sligo-based White Hag is light and fruity with a piney and peachy aroma. The mosaic hops give it a unobtrusively tropical taste and it has a crisp, dry finish.

At 4.2 per cent abv, it lives up to its sessionable billing and is now available in cans, ensuring a fresher taste.

The second runner-up straddles styles. I first sampled a pint of Bonita by O Brother in the Woodworkers in Belfast in early December and it's a beautifully balanced beer.

Closer to the Cascadian Dark Ale style, it has the feel of a light stout with lovely roasty, chocolate notes. But it also has some traits of a west coast IPA – floral and bitter.

Given a limited outing in early 2015, it came back by popular demand towards the end of 2016 in a bottle and keg release and was a hit once again.

Dark and with a 7.1 per cent abv, it certainly slots effortlessly into the 'winter warmer' category, but good beer is good beer at any time of the year.