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The annual Franciscan Well October Beer Fest is in full swing at the North Mall. A wide selection of imported Festival beer is available, beer cocktails (with spirits by St Patrick's Distillery), pizza by the tried and tested Pompeii crew, and music is all part of the mix. But this year, they've got cheese, lots of it, from a company called Antica Latteria Bruzolese who are based in Borgone di Susa, close to Turin in the north of Italy.
There are a few dozen exotic beers from Belgium, USA, Germany, New Zealand, Ukraine, even Luxembourg! I didn't get to try them all in a quick tour last night but did get a few. The Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest/Marzen, a collaboration with Augsburg’s Brauhaus Riegele, was one and the Tuatara Aotearoa Pale Ale another. Then there was the Karpat Mustang from Ukraine, an American Pale Ale, and also I enjoyed a glass of the Lagunitas Fusion XXX1, a USA Imperial IPA weighing in at 8.9%. My favourite was perhaps the Aotearoa from New Zealand.
Then I left the ranks of beer taps and called over to the cheese stall and got the low-down there. Bought a plate of the cheese for a fiver and tried it out. The range, all made from milk supplied by small farms in the Piedmonte region, consisted of some fairly fresh cheese to one that was very mature indeed. All were “hard” cheese but, of course, the younger ones were soft and easy to eat, much like Tomme de Savoie the French mountain cheese.
The oldest one was really hard, best grated over your pizza or salad etc. In between, they had a Tometta Onion. That contained six per cent onion - not to everyone's liking! And also a Tometta Tomato.
And if you wanted an instant fondue, they have just the job. Get yourself a jar of the Fonduta (€6.00). All you then have to do is to warm the cheese mix, pop in a breadstick and enjoy. Don't take my word for it! Call over to the Well, get yourself a beer and then go to the cheese stall where they'll offer you a taste of the Fonduta! In fact, I’m told they will have an artisan beer there for the rest of the weekend.
The October Beer Fest reopens today at 2.00pm, same time tomorrow Sunday.