Meet the Makers sessions with Waterford’s beer and cider

The Most Excellent Craft of Beer Pairing

Welcome to our series of four Meet the Makers tasting sessions – do try this at home!

Like wine tasting, but much more rewarding and fun (for a start, you don’t spit), craft beer tasting and food pairing is the way to discover new beers and ciders, and open up a range of taste sensations. Thanks to the legacy of Guinness, the world knows the Irish excel at brewing, and Waterford is home to some of the best micro brewers in the business.

That’s hardly surprising.

With its lush landscape, ideal climate for growing, and long history of great food and drink, the breweries of County Waterford have a rich artisan tradition, and a maverick spirit that means the taste adventures keep coming. Pair with foods from the same region (terroir, for those in the know) and you’re on the way to making your tastebuds dance.

With so much choice, where do you start?

Meet the Makers

Food: The Waterford Way invited Julie Ward of the legendary Ardkeen Stores to join us at Shush, on the Mall in the heart of Waterford’s Viking Triangle, and be our guide through four tasting sessions, where you can meet the makers, and set off on a brilliant beer voyage of discovery. So grab a cold one and settle in for your fascinating chance to get a true taste for it.

Basic beer and cider pairing guidelines suggest that when it comes to Pale Ales and some Belgian-style Tripel beers, cheese is your friend; while everyone knows that Stout and oysters go hand in hand – or they would if oysters had hands to hold – but what about beer and ice cream? The answer is: Yes you Can!

Here’s some highlights to whet your appetite… And fret not, even if you’re not lucky enough to live in County Waterford (also known as Foodie Heaven) it’s all available to order online at Ardkeen, or direct from the makers.

So make your shopping list, pick your moment and let’s have a session.

Each session lasts between 15 and 20 minutes, but you can carry on sampling and sipping all evening long…

Session One

Metalman: A Feast for the Senses View Tasting Video

At Metalman Brewing, Gráinne Walsh knows the importance of a decent glass. “You need to see the colour of what you’re drinking,” she says. Just like a great wine, a really great beer is a feast for the senses. Brewing, it seems, is not for the fainthearted, but Gráinne clearly loves her job. A rich nutty cheddar from Knockanore brings out the spicy clove and banana flavours in Metalman’s Atomium Amber. Then, ditch your expectations to sample Razzbeer, and learn what magic a sour beer with a hint of chilli can conjure on the tongue. Staying on Knockanore’s “hill of gold”, Julie cracks open a tub of Baldwin’s Chocolate Ice Cream. Seriously. Try it!

Session Two

Viking Irish Drinks: Get hoppy View Tasting Video

David Dennison talks of terroir with a passion as he discusses what makes Viking Cider so unique. Discover bits of history, and how the weather affects each year’s crops, subtly influencing flavour and the intricacies of brewing. While the nicely dry Blue Label was the first Cider from Viking, this time we’re tasting Harvest Blush and Hoppit, for which David selflessly went on a research trip around the cider houses of the United States. There’s dedication for you. Food pairings are Mezze’s Lavosh Flatbreads with spelt and nigella, and Dillisk from the Sea Gardener, as well as a wonderfully unusual hoppy cider along with the ever amazing Knockalara Sheep’s Cheese

Session Three

Legacy Irish Cider: Opening Up Your Cider Experience View Tasting Video

Legacy Irish Cider is aptly named, as you could almost think Liam McDonnell’s blood runs with apple juice. Growing has been in his family for generations, and he’s one of the best advocates of this very wonderful, and sometimes undersung drink. In this session, sampling Legacy’s Dry and Medium ciders like wines, Liam and Julie find a wealth of tasting notes. Get ready to pair with black pudding from (whisper it) Cork, and available from the very brilliant McGrath’s Butchers in Lismore. “Soul food,” says Julie as the black pudding opens the cider up, and vice versa. Then enjoy Pure Food Company’s Rocket and Garlic Pesto on Mezze’s Lavosh Flatbreads

Session Four

Dungarvan Brewing Company: The Heritage Craft Beer View Tasting Video

Celebrating their tenth birthday in 2020, The Dungarvan Brewing Company are pioneers – one of just seven microbreweries when they set up shop. Claire Dalton draws on tradition, and the vibrant Waterford food community and loves to see her beers turn up as ingredients in restaurants, as well as in the glass. Tasting the international award winning Black Rock Stout, and Main Sail – the first alcohol-free bottled craft beer in Ireland, Claire describes putting flavour into the place where the alcohol would have been. You won’t even miss it. Pair Main Sail with The Sea Gardener’s Almond and Orange Bar and bring out the flavours in both, and marry Black Rock Stout with the surprisingly good for you (despite the name!) Chocolate Truffle Balls from Nutrilicious. 

So join us for one, or all of our sessions. After all, what have you got to lose? You may never want to drink commercial beer again.