Kerry brewery honoured at 2023 IFWG food awards

Beoir Chorcha Dhuibhne was one of a select few who were honoured at the 2023 Irish Food Writers’ Guild (IFWG) Food Awards for its golden ale, Béal Bán

From ale and eel to eco-friendly pig farming, the winners of the 30th Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards are a diverse group that represent a commitment to provenance, sustainability, quality, and flavour above all else.

With just eight prestigious awards presented, Beoir Chorcha Dhuibhne was one of a select few who were honoured at the 2023 Irish Food Writers’ Guild (IFWG) Food Awards for its golden ale, Béal Bán, created and produced by Adrienne Heslin at her small-batch brewery in the heart of the Gealtacht on the Dingle Peninsula.

Adrienne Heslin is one of Ireland’s early craft beer innovators, founding Beoir Chorca Dhuibhne, also known as West Kerry Brewery, in 2008. The brewery is based in the garden of her pub, Tig Bhric, in Ballyferriter on the Dingle Peninsula. Adrienne’s late partner, Pádraig Bric, had inherited the pub in 1999 and immediately set about renovating it and creating a home for himself, Adrienne and their daughter Maude. Tragically Pádraig died in 2001, leaving Adrienne with a young daughter and a pub to run.

Tig Bhric has been serving customers over four generations for more than 100 years. With Beoir Chorca Dhuibhne, Adrienne began a new chapter. It was the first brewery in Kerry and the first in Ireland to be founded and managed by a woman. With a small 800-litre kit and using water from 150 feet below the brewery, this is true craft brewing that has an intense connection with its terroir. Small batch production allows the brewery to produce a range of beers which are beautifully balanced and flavourful.

The full list of winners of the 2023 Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards were as follows:

  • Irish Drink Award:Beoir Chorcha Dhuibhne for Béal Bán, Co Kerry
  • Food Award:Smoked Lough Neagh Eel, Co Antrim
  • Food Award:Velvet Cloud Sheep’s Milk Yogurt, Co Mayo
  • Food Award:Ballylisk of Armagh, Co Armagh
  • Outstanding Contribution to Irish Food:Gabriel Faherty, Aran Island Goats’ Cheese, Co Galway
  • Environmental Award:The Wooded Pig, Co Meath
  • Community Food Award:Field of Dreams – Down Syndrome Cork, Co Cork
  • Lifetime Achievement Award:Kevin and Seamus Sheridan, Co Galway

“Besides Béal Bán, her brilliant golden ale which we are highlighting today, Adrienne and her small team of Daniel, Pat, Paul and Norah now have 17 beers in their portfolio, said Caroline Hennessy, chair of the IFWG, at this year’s awards. “Still proudly independent, Adrienne brews what she calls “progressive, traditional” beers, some which are only available in the pub itself. Fortunately for us, the delicious caramel malt flavours of Béal Bán are more widely accessible in your local off licence – but it’s always worth having an excuse to visit Tig Bhric.

“Since the Food Award’s inception, each winner has been chosen independently and anonymously by IFWG members, recognising the best in Irish food and drink by shining a light on smaller producers who might otherwise slip under the radar. From traditional products of the highest quality to new innovations, this year’s winners exemplify what is so exciting about Ireland’s food and drink industry right now.”

Three decades on from the first IFWG Food Awards, Caroline Hennessy took a moment to celebrate how the industry has evolved and how this has been reflected in the Food Awards each year: “When the IFWG Food Awards began in 1993, it was with the aim of promoting and celebrating Ireland’s indigenous food producers and, as Ireland’s artisan food scene has developed and flourished, our core principles have remained true.

“Guild members have always shared a passion for nurturing a proud and vibrant Irish food culture. Thirty years on from those first awards, we are fortunate to live in a country where there is more attention paid to the food we eat, to who is producing it and how it is produced.  Many of the winners from the early years are still familiar names today, proof of their enduring quality and we have no doubt that this year’s cohort of winners will continue that legacy.”

Una Fitzgibbon, director of marketing at Bord Bia, which sponsors the IFWG Food Awards, said: “Bord Bia is delighted to support The Irish Food Writers’ Guild as it consistently highlights the outstanding quality, craftsmanship and innovation in Ireland’s artisan food industry through these awards. Now in their 30th year these awards have honoured those in the sector that take ingenuity and entrepreneurship to the next level.  Congratulations to all those involved in these prestigious food awards and, of course, to the very deserving winners.”

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