Vanguard Beer Collective

blacks of kinsale

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Follow the Randall

What is a Randall?

A Randall is a double chambered filter that allows you to infuse your favorite brew with all kinds of ingredients, like fresh hops for example.  It is an original invention of Dogfish Head Brewery, Delaware, USA, and we are lucky to have one of our own here at Vanguard.

At this year’s Beer Bloggers Conference not only were beer writers chatting up #EBBC14 all weekend, but there was plenty of Twitter talk about an inanimate object we all know and love as the Randall.  You see, James came up with this brilliant idea to put the Randall on tour to give people the opportunity to taste fresh hop infused craft beer in pubs all across Ireland. First stop was The Norseman (formally Farrington’s) as they poured Blacks of Kinsale KPA through Centennial hops.

It was during this Twitter beer banter that @DubBeerGirl and myself had a lightbulb moment thus #followtheRandall was born.  Now you can follow @VanguardRandall to find out where you the Randall will be next.

Currently, the lads at Simon Lambert & Son’s down in Wexford are hosting the @VanguardRandall and have enjoyed Bo Bristle’s IPA with Citra hops.  If you are a publican or restaurateur and are interested in featuring the Randall at your place give us a shout.

#followtheRandall @VanguardRandall

Want to learn more about the Randall? Visit Dogfish Head Brewery’s webpage here.

For the complete Randall user guide click here.


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Talking Craft Beer & Food at Ballymaloe

This past weekend we were proud to be a part the second annual Ballymaloe Literary Food and Wine Festival in Co. Cork. The festival brought acclaimed chefs from all over the world for demonstrations, panel discussions, book signings and more.  Local producers sold and sampled artisan products while musicians and DJs carried us through the night.  Plus there wasn’t a big brand brew in sight!  Only Irish craft beer flowed through the taps at this event which was a refreshing, and delicious, change from normal events of this scale.

Our very own Julie Levy held an intimate Introduction to Food and Wine Pairing demo in The Big Shed on Saturday where she featured beers from Blacks of Kinsale, N17 Brewery and Eight Degrees with local fair (see delicious pairings listed below).  You see, we believe in tasty beverages full of flavour so it is only natural that we are big into the delicious flavours of food as well.  Contrary to what you might have been told beer is a much more versatile libation to pair with food than wine.  There are more variations and styles of beer so you know you can always find something to accompany even the most difficult to pair items like vingerary salad dressings or bitter dark chocolate (fyi berliner weisse and barely wine respectively). Not too mention you can pair different beers with the same dish for different, yet equally enjoyable, results.  For example, grab a big hoppy IPA to bring out the spice in Thai coconut curry or if you rather put out heat and highlight the other flavours go for a sweeter, yeasty beer like a Belgian tripel.

Much fun is to be had in the ways of matching beer and food, as you may have seen already in our other beer and food pairings here and here.  Watch this space for more beer and food pairing tips and recipes from Julie soon to follow.


Perhaps we should take this opportunity to officially introduce our fantastic marketeer Julie Levy who joined the team this March and who has, among other things, contributed fun, beer filled posts to this blog ever since.

Julie is from Calif-rado! That’s California & Colorado. Yep, raised in California, and fell in love with(in) Colorado, our Ms Levy is adventure. She surfs the cold waters off the Irish coast, trail runs in the Wicklow Mountains and enjoys cycling around the city. Described as a lover of noodles, craft beer enthusiast and superb parallel parker she knows which end of a camera to point and has a degree to prove it. Having worked for brewers on both sides of the Atlantic she knows her beer and wants you to know it too.  Which is why she loves leading staff trainings and beer tastings for our customers continually on a mission to bridge the gap between the brewer and the consumer. She manages all of our PR and digital marketing, including this here blog, she designs chalkboard menus, window displays, brochures and more.  Did we mention she is also studying graphic design? So you can blame her for those fancy Irish craft beer posters.  Be sure to try out her craft beer and food pairings below if you missed them at her demo on Saturday.


Blacks of Kinsale Pale Ale w/ Gubbeen cows milk cheese.

N17 Rye Ale w/ Gubbeen fresh chorizo.

Eight Degrees Knockmealdown Porter w/ Morton’s chocolate peanut butter cookies.

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Beer and Food Pairing: Blacks KPA and Salt Baked Fish

Welcome to our next beer and food collaboration with the very talented Chef and Food Stylist Jette Virdi. Last time Jette brought you a tasty steak salad creation that we paired with Bo Bristle’s Amber Ale.  Today we have a salt baked fish recipe for two paired with Blacks of Kinsale Pale Ale (KPA).

I promise this recipe is simpler than it looks and it is guaranteed to wow your date when you crack open the salt shell at the table.  Because the recipe brings the heat with a blend of chili and garlic we paired it with a the hoppy, but light, KPA from Blacks of Kinsale.  Besides, what better beer to have with fish than one from a fishing village ;-)

We found Blacks KPA to be delicious with this dish because it didn’t over power the delicateness of the fish yet it was bold enough to highlight its spicy and aromatic flavours.  The beer’s delicious tropical and citrus flavours from cascade and citra hops paired really nicely with the lime and fresh herbs in this recipe. But don’t take my word for it.  Try it out for yourself.  And do let us know how you get on!



2 whole fish unscaled but gutted. Preferable sea bass or rainbow trout

Salt…lots of it. Regular table salt or rock salt

4 chillies: 2 green, 2 red

2 garlic cloves

1 lime, cut into wheels

handful of parsley/coriander


Poppy Seed Slaw

¼ red cabbage, sliced finely

4 carrots, peeled and shredded

2 Tbsp natural yoghurt

juice of one lemon

1 tsp poppy seeds


Preheat oven to 180C.

Get the 2 green and 1 red chillies and pop into a blender with a bit of olive oil and garlic.  Whiz till a paste.  Generously spread the mixture around the cavity of the fish.  Then lay a few slices of lime, remaining red chili (halved) and the fresh herbs in the cavity of each fish.


In a bowl mix a large amount of salt with a couple of tablespoons of water.  You want a consistency of wet sand.  Add water little by little until you have the right consistency.


On a baking tray make a layer of the salt/water mix. Place the fish and its filling on this.  Then cover with salt and pack tightly.  You ideally don’t want to be able to see any part of the fish although if the tail is sticking out it’s no big deal.  Pop into the oven for 15-20mins.  Check by sticking a knife into the the flesh.  When taken out if it’s piping hot then the fish is cooked.


Whilst the fish is cooking, mix the veggies, yoghurt, lemon juice and poppy seeds together to make a slaw.


Remove fish from the oven and crack open the salt at the table. Peel the skin off and enjoy with a cold glass of Blacks KPA.  Cheers!


 Jette Virdi is a regular contributor to Easy Food Magazine and Image Magazine and is co-founder of The Workshop People, a one-stop-workshop for an evening of bespoke food, DIY, meeting new people, plus a couple beverages, all under one roof.  You can follow Jette@WoodandC or visit her website