Food highlights of 2016
Alcohol, and plenty of it, seems to be the only answer to the year that we've just put down. Thankfully, 2016 was the year when the quality and variety of Irish-produced beers, ciders and spirits reached a real tipping point, moving from the devoted fringes into a newly clued-in mainstream.
The recent launch of the Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Bill 2016 (aka #CraftDrinksBill), which will enable microbreweries, cideries and distilleries to sell their own produce to visitors and tourists, is a great leap forward. It shows an industry that, even as it says goodbye to one of its founding fathers, Oliver Hughes, is working towards ensuring the future remains bright, local and in the hands of small producers.
Innovation was also a watchword, with products like Stonewell's apple and rhubarb cider winning at Blás na hEireann, White Gypsy's Russian Imperial Stout taking the first Irish Drink Award for beer from the Irish Food Writers' Guild and a spate of exciting saisons, sours and barrel-aged stouts arriving toward the end of the year.
Hopefully we won't need to drown our sorrows in 2017 but at least, if we do, we'll have plenty of local choice.