Tuesday 20 March 2018

Lobsters and beer to salute last weekend of summer

Soaking up the atmosphere' at the Irish Craft Beer Festival taking place this weekend at the RDS was Alain Dekoster , brewer and owner of 'Radikale' which is only three months old
Soaking up the atmosphere' at the Irish Craft Beer Festival taking place this weekend at the RDS was Alain Dekoster , brewer and owner of 'Radikale' which is only three months old
The King of Dalkey Finbarr Madden getting ready for the Dalkey Lobster Festival this weekend at Bulloch Harbour
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

When even the teenage volunteer who officially wears the lobster suit doesn't want to have his name associated with the exercise, that should have been all the information I needed not to agree to the lobster suit.

"I have a lot of sadistic friends," was his reasonable explanation.

Sadistic friends have nothing on the capabilities of three small, sadistic children.

But, anyway. It's the last weekend of the summer and it's all nice and casual and this is what they're wearing in Milan these days and is it hot in here or is it just me?

The irony about all of this is that just as the Dalkey Lobster Fest gets under way in the Dublin village, there is a real shortage of actual lobster.

The summer has been too bad and the water temperature several degrees cooler than it should be for the time of year.

Local fisherman Peter Drummond (72) shrugged off concerns, saying: "It's great. That's nature. Things change all the time."

Fishing since the age of 12 - it was a good way of "mitching from school", he explained - his hands still bear the scars of those early scuffles.

He quickly learned that you cannot catch a lobster by startling it or it will just use those knife-and-fork pincers, one with a straight edge, the other serated, to good effect.

Festival organiser, Dave Coulson of the Tramyard Cafe, was reassuring; they have plenty of lobster in stock, with over 30,000 people expected to flock to the seaside village over the weekend.

Restaurants and cafes throughout Dalkey will offer lobster done all ways - from posh thermidor to barbecued lobster to lobster mac 'n' cheese, with a side order of jazz.

The exclusive enclave may have a wealthy reputation but like anywhere, it relies on outside cashflow, explained 'The King of Dalkey', Finbarr Madden.

"We have people from all social classes living here," he said.

But on the weekend that we officially exit summer, there is more than just seafood on the menu in Dublin.

The RDS sees a lively selection of some of the country's best niche beers at the Craft Beer Festival.

Just new to the scene and already brewing up a storm is Alain Dekoster of Radikale Beer in Cork.

The Belgian native quit the lucrative technology business to follow his passion and had his first beer ready for sale three months ago.

"The attraction is the pleasure I get from seeing people enjoy the product," he said.

Wicklow Red Ale was famous in the 18th Century and was much loved by writer Jonathan Swift - but it mysteriously disappeared following the 1798 rebellion.

Now it's back on the boil at the Wicklow Brewery, set up just two years ago by Ashley and Leigh Williams.

Master brewer Mattias Krone, who is originally from Germany, says their Weiss beer is "better than any available" in his home country.

Meanwhile in Kerry, artist Adrienne Heslin turned her hand to brewing in 2008 and is proud to be the first brewery in Kerry - as well as the last brewery in Western Europe.

"We use water from our own well, botanicals from our garden and we ferment our own yeast," she said of the secret to her uniquely indigenous product.

Irish Independent

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