First there was the Irish Masterchef, now there’s the Irish Master Bartender – one for beer and drink lovers this.
Dubliner, Fearghus McCormack, a third generation barman in the family run Merrion Inn, Dublin, has beaten stiff competition from across the globe to carry off the title of Pilsner Urquell International Master Bartender 2011. During a highly-competitive week-long final in the Czech Republic this month, he claimed the victory against an impressive group of finalists representing 15 countries.
Fearghus claimed the title in Prague earlier this month in a gala final he likened to ‘the Oscars of beer’. Commenting on his win Fearhgus said: “I can’t begin to express how excited and proud I am to win this title. The Merrion Inn always prides itself on quality, from the staff in the bar, to the food we serve, to the beers we stock. To have been internationally recognised & awarded by a brand of the pedigree of Pilsner Urquell is amazing. Pilsner Urquell is a real beer lovers’ favourite in The Merrion Inn, but I didn’t truly appreciate the brands incredible heritage & dedication to quality until I’d visited the brewery in Pilsen. Pilsner Urquell literally means ‘Pilsner from the original source’; it was the world’s first golden beer way back in 1842, when they discovered a revolutionary new brewing technique. The beer has remained unchanged ever since.”
Now in its sixth year, the global International Master Bartender (IMB) competition brought together top bartenders from around the world to Pilsen, the birthplace of the world’s first golden beer. The bartenders sat interviews with a panel of beer experts, undertook an exam and demonstrated their knowledge, passion and skills in the heart of the brewery followed by a bartender serving exercise in front of a live audience.
The competition prize is valued at an incredible €10,000. Fearghus will also join Senior Brewmaster, Vaclav Berka, in brewing a batch of beer which will be served at the 169th anniversary celebrations on 10th November. Fearghus will brew his very own batch in the Pilsner Urquell micro-brewery that will be delivered on the eve of the anniversary to his home outlet, The Merrion Inn in Dublin.
Fearghus’ involvement in the 2011 competition began when he entered the Pilsner Urquell Irish Master Bartender competition back in June. In order to qualify for the International Final, Fearghus had to win the Pilsner Urquell Irish Master Bartender Final which took place over 2 days in September in the enchanting Pilsner Urquell Brewery, Pilsen, Czech Republic. Out of the hundreds of bars that applied, ten top bar men and women from across the country were selected to travel to Pilsen for the final, however there could only be one winner to go forward and represent Ireland in the Pilsner Urquell International Master Bartender Final. Fearghus succeeds previous Pilsner Urquell Irish Master Bartender winners; Darren Geraghty from The Exchequer Bar, Dublin & Jonny Hayes from O’Connells Bar Galway.
Petr Dvorak, Global Brand Director for Pilsner Urquell, said: “More than 16,000 bartenders have taken part in the competition over its duration and it is great for us to see the care, focus and dedication they are putting into the serve. Each year, we are pleasantly surprised by the standards we see and remain committed to ensuring this professionalism is given the necessary rewards.”
IMB 2011 competition is the culmination of an annual quality assurance programme that recognises the paramount importance of bartenders when it comes to serving a perfect pint of Pilsner Urquell. It is their commitment, passion and dedication to quality and the perfect serve that has helped Pilsner Urquell, the world’s first golden beer, to remain uncompromised and enjoyed at its best since its creation in 1842.
The 2011 judging panel included: international beer writer Alastair Gilmour; Pilsner Urquell Senior Trade Brewer Vaclav Berka; 2010 IMB winner Lukas Svoboda; Director of the Cicerone® Certification Program Ray Daniels; and Ron Busman, Vice-President Europe, from the International Bartenders Assocation.