Brew Love

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Ireland's artisan drinks makers are brewing up a storm at the RDS?

Ale aficionados, cider sippers and whiskey connoisseurs will definitely drink to this. The Irish Craft Beer and Cider Festival kicks off today from 5pm at the RDS, bringing together the country's coolest craft brewers, artisan cider makers and independent whiskey distillers under one roof - so if you know your India pale ale from your Irish blonde and like to try distinctive local variants, this is the place for you.

More and more of us are opting for small labels with a distinct local flavour, rather than the often insipid offerings of mass-produced international brands, and it's been interesting to watch the proliferation of so many new names colourfully adorning the bar taps in pubs around the country over the last few years. Lots of the labels setting up stall at the RDS will be familiar to you - but there will be many little gems you may not have seen (or supped) before.

Some of our favourite brands to watch out for include Eight Degrees and Franciscan Well from Cork, Waterford's Metalman, Galway Hooker, Kildare-based Trouble Brewing, Armagh Cider and Dublin's acclaimed Teeling Whiskey, rubbing shoulders with?about 40 other burgeoning and established brewers.

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You'll get to meet the makers and sample all their wares (sensibly of course!) while enjoying masterclasses,?live music and a dizzying array of gourmet grub. Get a feel for the art of beer and food pairing with the help of a host of local artisan producers such as Jane Russell Sausages, Cillian the Pie Man, Dave's Wood Fired Pizza and Cr?pes in the City.

Finally, food bloggers Caroline Hennessy and Kristin Jensen will be seizing the moment to unveil their brand-new book, Sl?inte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer and Cider (New Island), today. So you can read all about the painstaking craft involved while you sample the luscious liquid results?

Tickets for Thursday, Friday and Sunday are €10; entry on Saturday is €15. A pass for all four days costs €20.

Hitting the hop-fest? Send us your snaps on Facebook and Twitter!

irishcraftbeerfestival.com

If you're feeling thirsty after reading this, try our gin, nettle and thyme cocktail.

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Sharon Miney for @Image_Interiors

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