The tasting takes place between 6.30pm and 8.30pm. Tasters are invited to come along any time in between, and for €10, will get to taste the three beers with three tapas plates to go with them. It's all happening in the West Cork Hotel, Skibbereen which is also the location of our Cloud Conference, headlined by Gavin Pretor-Pinney of The Cloud Appreciation Society.
These are the beers we will be sampling:
Eight Degreees Brewing: Howling Gale Ale
Like blitzing down the Ballyhouras on your bike with an icy wind in your face, this delivers a refreshing crisp smack around the gills. It pours a pale golden colour and the malty sweetness is well balanced by the chinook and centennial hops. Goes well with fish, chicken or anything off the barbeque. ABV 5.0%
Suggested food matches: Ales are traditionally seen a great foil for Indian food but we particularly like the Howling Gale with fish and chips. Crisp, with a hint of bitterness, the ale makes sure that spicy or fried food never becomes palate-clogging. It's also well worth trying with a creamy Cashel Blue and Broccoli Gratin.
Eight Degreees Brewing: Sunburnt Irish Red
Like an Irishman on holiday in the Canaries, this beer has a red tint but with a chilled out, mellow feel. A traditional Irish style with a twist, it has subtle caramel notes balanced with a hoppy aroma. Goes really well with roast beef, lamb or a traditional Irish stew, but beware: keep out of direct sunlight.
Suggested food matches: a platter with mature cheddar cheese – Hegarty's is good – Gubbeen salami and chorizo, fresh crusty bread, crisp apples and dried figs.There are enough hops here to stand up to the sharp cheese and cut through the richness of the cured sausage. The sweetness of the figs also compliments the caramel notes of the beer.
Lamb – sweet and ever so slightly fatty – is also a good pairing. Make some lamb burgers, with lots of rosemary, and let the Sunburnt Irish Red shine through.
Dungarvan Brewing Company: Black Rock Irish Stout
Bronze Medal Winner at the Brewing Industry International Awards 2011.
The Black Rock is a landmark for mariners at the outermost part of Dungarvan harbour, situated just between the Copper Coast and Helvick head.
This is a full flavoured, smooth, dry stout that has been described on more than one ocassion as "the way stout used to taste". Made from roasted barley which gives a rich, chocolate-y flavour with herbal hints and notes of vanilla and aniseed. This is a medium-bodied stout with a light carbonation and a smooth mouthfeel.
Ideally this stout should be served in the traditional south eastern way which is 'off the shelf' - ie at room temperature. It is the perfect beer to serve with robust meat dishes, or could be used as a 'dessert beer'. ABV: 4.3%
Suggested food matches: when the weather gets colder, there's always the traditional beef and stout stew but, for something completely different, hold your stout for the sweeter end of the meal. Make sure you keep the sugar content of the beer and the desert balanced. This smooth stout is good with a dense – not oversweet – chocolate cake or serve it with hunks of blue cheese and oatcakes. You can also use it as a flavouring for truffles or ice cream – Dungarvan's limited edition oatmeal and coffee stout would be particularly good for this.
And these are our guides for the tasting:
Eight Degrees Brewing and Scott Baigent
Eight Degrees Brewing is a new brewery set up in North Cork by Cam Wallace and Scott Baigent. Hailing from Australia and New Zealand, and with a thirst for craft beer, the lads have brought a fresh perspective to combing modern artisan brewing techniques with classical Irish beer styles. Their beers are full flavoured with very distinctive bitter and aromatic hops, balanced with a well-developed malt body.
Scott, the Kiwi half of the partnership, is the co-owner of, and brewer at, Eight Degrees Brewing. His brewing career started when he, gazing reverently upon a pint of Black Mac, suddenly realised that there's more to beer than you can find in regular taps. He became an avid craft beer consumer, an interest that developed into an obsession with home brewing, before he headed off to train at the VLB institute in Berlin.
Journalist, broadcaster and blogger – at www.bibliocook.com – Caroline Hennessy is based in a country cottage in North Cork where she grows veg, keeps chickens, turkeys and a toddler.
Together with Kristin Jensen, she set up the Irish Food Bloggers Association last October so that she could turn online acquaintances into real life friends – and have another excuse to spend more time eating and talking about food.
With chef Kevin Thornton, Caroline presented a six-part radio series called Foodtalk, has appeared on Dave Fanning's, Derek Mooney's and Tom Dunne's radio programmes and is a regular contributer to Lyric fm's Culture File. She has written for a variety of publications including Intermezzo, Food and Wine Magazine, the Irish Examiner and the Irish Times. She has also been known to work as a barista, adores baking and is a Bridgestone editor.
After spending time in New Zealand she developed an interest in, and appreciation of, craft beer. With the Kiwi Husband launching his own microbrewery (www.eightdegrees.ie) she's taking full advantage of the opportunity to try out some recipes and theories about beer and food matching.