You won’t find any pints being served at next weekend’s craft beer fair in Naas. “This is more of a taste and chat event,” explains Eugene Dempsey, store manager of the local O’Briens off-licence. The aim of the fair, he says, is to showcase the stories and people behind Irish craft beers. All breweries have their own philosophies,” says Dempsey. “Until you get to speak to the brewers you don’t really know what they’re about.”
Featuring more than 70 beers from breweries all over Ireland – including YellowBelly, Black Donkey, Hope, Third Barrel, Dot Brewing and lots more – it’s the perfect spot for people curious to learn a little more about craft beer and how it’s made. And there’s none of that beer tokens malarkey. Visitors pay €10 for a ticket and can sample as many of the beers as they like over the four-hour period.
“It’s an informal, relaxed affair,” says Dempsey. “You can have a chat and wander around from table to table.” One of the rules for breweries taking part, says Dempsey, is that the brewer – and not a sales rep – must be on hand at the stalls to chat to visitors.
All of the beers are being made specially for the fair, so there’ll be plenty of surprise, one-off beers and a few newbies. Kildare Brewing Company will be launching their range of beers, including a beetroot ale and Weiss beer (winners at the recent Alltech festival). There’s also a chance to sample the offerings from Ireland’s latest microbrewery – Tipperary’s Canvas Brewery.
All proceeds from the event are going to McAuley Place, a volunteer support centre for older people, where the fair is being held. Now in its fourth year, the expanding O’Briens Naas Craft Beer Fair has moved to this bigger venue – and it’s right beside the bus stop.