Boxtravaganza: The White Hag’s Beer Festival Goes Cyber

If you’re looking for an online craft beer festival, look no further. On 25th July 2020, we’ll be bringing you the sixth instalment of Hagstravaganza from Ballymote, Sligo. Now, it’s not going to look like it did in the past but here’s everything we think you’ll need to know about Ireland’s first online international beer festival – Boxtravaganza.

What is a Hagstravaganza?

Every year, for the past five years, we’ve opened up the brewery and held our own birthday party called Hagstravaganza. It was born out of realising craft beer festivals are great craic but they were also typically reserved for breweries visiting other breweries. We wanted to organise something for you, the drinkers! In what was to be a bit of a “mash tun” of a festival, we thought we’d bring breweries and drinkers together under the roof of our Sligo brewery.

After deciding this was a great idea and giving thirsty punters two-weeks notice, over two-hundred people ended up knocking on our brewery’s front door in Ballymote. Last year over fifteen hundred people rocked up for a day of craft beer and nerding out over some of the tastiest beers on the global scene.

Over the years we’ve seen the popularity of craft beer festivals in Ireland skyrocket and we love it. We have taken it upon ourselves to set the bar as high as possible, not just for ourselves but for the industry so that we’re a “must attend” on your beer festival list.

All of these ideas and ambitions come together in Hagstravaganza, The White Hag’s own magical beer festival.

Wait, so what’s Boxtravaganza?

Ah, you’ve spotted the ever so subtle name change this year.

2020 has been an odd year, to say the least. Despite a huge national effort and the national plan to reopen the country coming forward considerably, we’ve made the decision to pull back on plans for Hagstravaganza 2020. It was a terribly difficult decision for us to make, but the health of our punters and our staff is paramount.

2020 was the year of things going online and with that Hagstravaganza became Boxtravaganza. Boxtravaganza is Ireland’s very first international online craft beer festival, beaming into your home via smartphone, laptop or telly straight from the brewery here in Ballymote.

How does Boxtravaganza work?

Hagstravaganza is when you come to the beer.
Boxtravaganza is when the beer comes to you.

We’ve been asking ourselves “what would make a great Irish beer festival” and so we got chatting with some of the world’s very best breweries over the past couple of months. Our single mission was to hand-pick the tastiest craft beer from around the world so we could pack it into a box and deliver it to your front door.

While we’d have loved to have had arctic lorries loaded with boxes of beer leaving the brewery, for a variety of reasons we’ve had to limit Boxtravaganza to 500 boxes.

Once that box arrives at your front door, you’re to bring it inside and stare at it. You can poke it and carefully look underneath it, but just don’t drop it. Chill it, but definitely don’t open it until 5PM, 25th July. Because that’s when the craic really starts.

What to expect from an online beer festival like Boxtravaganza

There are other craft beer festivals and even other online beer events, but there’s nothing quite like The White Hag’s birthday bash going cyber. We’ve been plotting and planning how much of what normally goes on at Hagstravaganza can be squeezed into a laptop. But we’ve also been thinking about what online lets us do that we normally can’t get away with.

Kicking off at 4PM BST (Ballymote Sligo Time) we’re going to squeeze in as many live brewer tastings as possible. Some of these will be pre-recorded to allow for time differences, travel restrictions and the simple fact that later in the evening there’s an increased potential for drunkenness. Beyond the beer there’s also be:

  • A barrel of laughs worth of comedy
  • Live music to get that party atmosphere
  • A bizarre postal quiz – think The Late Late Show x Charades
  • Reams of slagging and abuse and more slagging
  • ‘Where’s Mikey?’
  • Cyber Cornhole Championships
  • A digital take on Hagwort express

Benefits of an online beer festival

Ok, so we would have loved to have you up to the brewery and it’s an awful shame things didn’t work out this time around. But, believe it or not, there are positives.

  1. No queuing for the toilet unless you’ve lost control of your home. In which case, sorry.
  2. Right up there with the toilet in terms of big benefits. How do you keep beer cold at a festival? At Boxtravaganza, leave it in the fridge until it’s drinking time.
  3. Wondering what to wear at a beer festival? Normally we’d be bothered but not this year! Feel free to enjoy Boxtravaganza in your jocks and socks. Be mindful of those you live with.
  4. You choose the food. Pringles, sausage sambos or veggie curry. We recommend making it the night before the more complicated it is. Do eat though. It’s a long haul.
  5. It’s a great excuse to hide in the shed drinking for the evening.
  6. When the night’s over, you’re already home unless you’ve been hiding in the neighbours garage!

List of beer in the festival box

We’re terribly proud of the lineup we’ve pulled together for Boxtravaganaza. As we said, we’re not just trying to throw together an online version of Hagstavanaza. We’re looking to set the bar as high as possible for what an online beer festival can achieve.

As you might imagine, delivering some of the world’s best craft beers is an important part of that. We’re really hoping that we can continue on our track towards becoming the best Irish beer festival and one of the best beer festivals in Europe.

The box we deliver to you contains 24 beers including a wide variety of beer styles. These have been freshly brewed, packed and shipped fresh to us by some of the best breweries in the world, fellow beer lovers who want you to have a great time drinking them. Unless you like warm beer we massively recommend that you get as many of the beers on show into the fridge and, style dependent, enjoy your beer cold.

Of course, you’ll find some beers from ourselves in there too. Here is the complete list of breweries taking part Boxtravaganza.

Alefarm Brewing

Founded in 2015, this Danish brewery is family run but is adopting modern methods. Not afraid to experiment with hops, Alefarm offers flavorful farmhouse ales and full-bodied stouts while also creating fruity sours.

Learn more about Alefarm Brewing

Brewfist Beer

Italy knows craft beer. Brewfist hails from Codogno in Italy and has been crafting gorgeous beers since 2010. In the 10 years they’ve been at this they’ve created some stunning beers. The original “firstborn” beers are still in their core selection today!

In addition to an excellent core range, Brewfist has added a barrel-aged program and celebrated seven years with a barley wine. The flavour they bring comes with experience.

Cloudwater Brewing

Having become one of the best-known craft beer breweries, we’re delighted to have Cloudwater taking part in our first international online beer festival. Founded in 2014, Cloudwater has brewed hundreds of quality craft beers and also collaborated with the biggest names in the industry. We share plenty with this independent brewery hailing from Manchester and we’re delighted to be sharing some time with them at Boxtravaganza this year too.

On a recent episode of “Between Two Ferms” we chatted with Cloudwater founder, Paul Jones. Check it out.

Between Two Ferms Episode #4:

Collective Arts Brewing

We love a good yarn, but the story behind Collective Arts is exceptional. Marrying creativity of brewing and the arts, Collective Arts believe creativity fuels creativity. The result is a fantastic and exceptionally taste range of beer. This is the first time you’ll be able to get your hands on a Collective Arts beer in Ireland and yes, you should be very excited about that.

Fyne Ales

Few have debated a festival being a festival purely because it’s moving online. But if we left the Scots out we’d never have lived it down. Fyne Ales is an award-winning independent brewery and tap-house founded all the way back in 2001.

Not only were they creating some lovely beers, but like ourselves, they were bringing jobs, industry and tourism to a rural area. The Scots always feel like brethren, don’t they?

Gipsy Hill

There’s a decent chance you’re already familiar with Gipsy Hill as they’ve appeared in many fridges around Ireland already. It all started back in 2013 when founders Charlie and Sam met at The Rake in Borough Market.

Today they’ve opened a taproom and innovated with batch brewing to trial new flavours. The result is, as you might hope, great beer production. It’s all come as a result of Gipsy Hill focusing on quality, innovation and community.

Green Cheek Brewing

Beer all the way from Orange County, Los Angeles. Beer that’s been considered to be some of the most awarded beer in the United States. The story of Green Cheek is that of many breweries. From homebrewer roots riddled with trial and error to perfection.

Green Cheek on the way:

A tale as old as time. This is a brewery that doesn’t like the regular. They rotate their beers every three weeks in their taphouses to keep different and fresh beer running regularly. One to look forward to!

Learn more about Green Cheek

Horizont Brewing

Horizont is a proper ground-breaker. They were one of the first big craft beer names to be established on the Hungarian brew scene. It’s not their first appearance in Ireland either, winning the 2017 Alltech Craft Beer Cup in 2017.

Their story is beautiful too. In 2016 they took over an abandoned factory with a history of brewing from back in the 1930s. Today, this reclaimed space chucks out more tasty beer than ever.

Learn more about Horizant

Kinnegar Brewing

We know that you know Kinnegar Brewing. The rest of Ireland should want a rail service out of Donegal if for no other reason than to get more Kinnegar beer spread around the country. The Kinnegar team believes in natural beer brewing processes and supporting local communities.

You’ll find them in our Boxtravaganza delivery but also in fridges around Ireland. Definitely one to sneak onto the shopping list.

Lambrate Brewing

Founded in 1996, Lambrate is one of the longest-serving crafters of beer in your Boxtravaganza delivery. The level of care and thought that goes into Lambrate beers, along with their incredible experience is why we included them in this box. Plus they are absolutely mental for the sesh, and are serious craic.

Our collab ‘Festa Nuda’ is one of the best we’ve ever done, conceived with them in a kebab shop in Bergen, Norway at 3am. They’re hand-picked perfection and we’re delighted that you’ll be able to taste them with us on July 26th.

Lervig Brewing

We’re all here to taste lovely beer but admit it – you’ve picked a can in the past from the fridge purely because it was pretty, didn’t you? There’s a fair chance a Lervig can made its way into your basket for this reason. Either that or you already knew they create incredible beers.

Lervig is a Norwegian brewery that serves up everything from pilsners and pale ales to barley wines and sours. It’s one of the international craft beer brands you’re most likely to find around Ireland and that’s down to their quality. That, and we’re great mates with these guys and sit alongside them in a few of our International distributors portfolios.

Mac Ivors

We can’t be forgetting our cider-lovers now, can we? Mac Ivors is one of the best-known cider brands in Ireland and remains a family-run operation. The farm behind it all was started in 1855 in Ardress, Armagh, and today the Mac Ivor team continue to create cider with heart and soul. We make an astonishingly good beer-cider hybrid with them, Silver Branch.

Even if you’ve found yourself wandering away from cider in recent years, we feel that Mac Ivors can rekindle that love again.

Mad Scientist

Yep! We’re bringing you not one, but two incredible beers from Budapest. As the name hints, this brewery is all about challenging the accepted norms of brewing. Whatever they create, it’s surely never boring. Put that alongside some impossibly high standards and the result is unbelievable flavour profiles in a wide range of beers.

They also have a bar called the Lab in Budapest’s best-known ruin bar. That’s pretty cool.

Learn more about Mad Scientist

Mont Hardi

The Mont Hardi brewery is located just off of the Loire River, East of Nantes.  These guys have a 19hl brewhouse with a maximum annual production capacity of 4000hl.  With 10 beers currently in the rotation, with three main stays (APA, Hefeweizen, Kölsch) and 5 in a recently developed special series (DDH IPA, Double IPA, red Saison, Baltic Porter, purple Berliner Weisse), lack of choice is not a problem here.

Their vision is to produce quality beers influenced by tradition, while introducing a unique new twist.

Pilot Brewing

Pilot was born when Matt Johnson and Patrick Jones met while studying for masters degrees in Brewing & Distilling at Heriot-Watt University in 2012. They’re not afraid to try something new and if someone floats an idea that sounds good, they’ll give it a lash.

What they really like is pairing interesting flavours. For example, the lime and black pepper in the gose in the Boxstravaganza box. It doesn’t always work, and there’s one beer we’ll never speak of again, but when it does it’s magic.

Learn more about Pilot Brewing

Round Corner Beer

Hailing from Melton Mowbray, the UK rural food capital, you should already start thinking about what you’ll grab to eat when putting away the car of beer we’ve picked from Round Corner Brewing.

Founded by two friends, one of which is a Beer World Cup Judge, Round Corner brewing comes from an area that expects exceptional flavour in everything and the beer is no exception. Crombie, one of the founders, is from Ballinamore, one of two brewers from Leitrim featured in the box!

Learn more about Round Corner Brewing

Salt Brewing

Some breweries will talk about themselves, but Salt certainly talks about history. Rightly so! This brewery is based in the UNESCO World Heritage village of Saltaire. Their foundations are deeply rooted in working people’s beer.

The lead brewer here is Colin Stronge, a Monaghan man and legend on the UK brew scene. They’ve been creating beer to match their history since 2018 winning their first award in 2019 it wouldn’t be the last and now, with our Boxtravaganza mixed crate, you can sample Salt for yourself.

Learn more about Salt

Santa Monica Brew Works

LA loves craft beer but still, Santa Monica Brew Works is Santa Monica’s only craft brewery. That’s despite this amazing brewery throwing out quality beer since 2014. We’ve visited them three times in the past few years, and they are amongst the most hospitable in the world.

Actually, if you ever find yourself in LA, be sure to go seek them out. The local LUAS goes right there from Santa Monica pier, and Ballinamore man Carl Sharpley is a founder and top dog here, alongside Carl and Scott Francis, so you’ll be right at home.

While they love their taproom they also love tasty cans and we can’t wait for you to crack open the one we’ve picked for you.

Learn more about Santa Monica Brew Works

Sierra Nevada

If this was a music festival, this would be the headline act. Even if you’re not into craft beers, there’s a very good chance you’ve sampled Sierra Nevada beers. A behemoth in the craft beer industry we’ve had the pleasure of hosting on one of the first episodes of “Between Two Ferms”.

We’re even more excited to be bringing them to you as part of Boxtravaganza. They were here last year, and while a slated collaboration had to be shelved in the past few months, it’s on the cards so they are coming back!

While Lambrate made a decent claim, Sierra Nevada has been brewing quality beer since the 1980s. They’re behind the whole craft revolution. Without them, we wouldn’t be here talking to you right now.

Siren

Making noise in the industry since 2013, Siren Craft Brew is all about bringing tasty full-flavoured beers to as many people as possible. Around Ireland, you’ll have noticed them popping up in new places thanks to their adventurous but also extremely drinkable beers. They pack their brewing schedule with favourites and experiments,  the result being a beer for every occasion. Plus, they are a great crew to bring to any party, noise and dancing being two of their most prominent attributes!

The Kernel

The Kernel is a London-based brewery creating classic London Porters and Stours alongside Pale Ales and IPAs. The beauty of their beer is that it makes you actually think about every mouthful. A beer nerd’s dream sup! Consistently amongst the highest rated breweries in Europe and the World, the founder and owner here is an Irish man of Waterford extraction, Evin O’Riordain. Originally a cheesemaker, Evin segwayed easily into brilliant beer, and was one of the first wave of beers on the legendary bermondsey beer mile.

Learn more about The Kernel Brewing

Trouble Brewing

Alphabetically they’re last, but by absolutely no means least. Trouble Brewing operates out of Kill, Kildare and has been one of Ireland’s leading craft breweries from their start in 2010. You’ll find them on draught around Ireland but also in many off-licence fridges. Founded and run by the most consistently grumpy men in beer, Stephen Clinch, the beer and the brand has revamped recently and become one of the most loved and called on beers in the land.

You should have tried this long before now, but if you haven’t, remember it was us that brought you your first can of Trouble.

The White Hag

We can’t forget ourselves of course! In your Boxtravaganza delivery you’ll find The Dark Druid and Hopstravaganza, our beer made especially for the festival!

Erm… I didn’t get a box? Can I still have the craic?

Unfortunately, for loads of reasons, we had an upper limit on how many boxes we could send out for the festival. Due to massive demand and wanting everyone to be able to join us on the day, we’ve put together The Boxtravaganza Birthday Box. This features 24 cans of our own beer including the two we’ve brewed especially for the birthday bash! Head over to the shop now and pick yourself up a box for the big day.

That’s it. Everything you need to know about Boxtravaganza, the first international online craft beer festival. If this is your first White Hag beer festival, we’re looking forward to having the craic with you. If it’s not, thanks for your ongoing support!

We can’t wait to digitally beam our virtual beer tent into wherever it is you’ve decided to enjoy the box we’re delivering to you.

On the day, be sure to show us what you’re set up for the festival looks like on social media. We’ve been checking the deliveries and we’re expecting to see photos from as far afield as London, Paris, Denmark, Milan, Budapest and LA!

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