Ireland’s craft beer and spirits boom

ThinkBusiness went to the Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair for a taste of a sector on the rise. 

Craft brewing in Ireland has seen an explosion in recent years. There are over 60 Irish microbreweries in Ireland, and they produced approximately 145,000 hectolitres (hl) in 2015. The turnover of craft beer producers last year was estimated at €39.6 million according to a recent report by the Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland.

Nowhere was the growth of craft beer and craft spirits more evident than at the recent Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair at the Convention Centre Dublin. Throngs of Irish breweries, distillers and food makers from all over the country set up their stalls and served their finest produce to an excited crowd of industry and consumer enthusiasts. Here is a selection of what was on offer.

Who: Blacks of Kinsale

The husband/wife team behind this West Cork brewery, Maudeline and Sam, first became interested in brewing when she gave him a brewing kit for Valentine’s Day one year. The hobby grew into a business in 2013 at the end of a successful crowd-funding campaign, displaying the increasing demand for new, interesting craft beer by craft drinkers in this country.

What to try: Black IPA.

As the name suggests, this beer has the jet-black appearance of a stout (and a hint of red if you look closely), but is actually a light, hoppy IPA with subtle orange and chocolate flavours.

Who: Black Donkey

The craft beer revolution has hit Roscommon, with Black Donkey leading the way. Based in the rural village of Ballinlough, the people behind Black Donkey learned to brew in the US before setting up for themselves in 2014.

What to try: Scythe.

A refreshing Belgian Pale Ale with American and Kiwi hops mixed with Irish and Belgian malts.

Who: Redwell

This Norwich-based brewery is one of a number of UK beer makers interested in expanding into the Irish market. The brewery has some Irish links, having trained the head brewers of Munster’s White Gypsy brewery.

What to try: West Coast Pale Ale.

A fruity Pale Ale made with American hops.

Who: Kelly’s Mountain Brew

Based in Clane, Kelly’s is County Kildare’s latest brewery, following in the steps of the likes of Trouble. Their four brews have distinctly biblical titles; Justice, Revenge, Redemption and Revolution.

What to try: Revolution.

This triple hopped red ale is made with crystal malt and roast cereals, giving it a clear caramel taste.

Who: Rascals

From Wellington to Rathcoole; the people behind this County Dublin brewery first became interested in brewing while living in New Zealand’s craft beer capital. They opened their doors in 2013 and have quickly made a name for themselves, with their Chocolate Ginger Porter winning the Gold Medal at the 2014 Alltech Fair.

What to try: 13 Seconds.

A Conor McGregor themed porter. Actual time until blackout may vary.

Who: Dingle Distillery

The latest string in the Porterhouse’s bow, the Dingle Distillery was launched in 2012, and its Dingle Whiskey Bar on Nassau Street is a welcome addition to Dublin’s pub scene.

What to try: Dingle Gin.

A classic dry gin, made with locally grown botanicals such as rowan berry, fuchsia, bog myrtle and more, giving the gin a distinctive ‘Taste of Kerry’.

Who: Muldoon

We round off our list with a whiskey. Muldoon’s is an award winning whiskey distiller based in County Waterford, based on a hazelnut moonshine recipe from a time when it was believed to have curative powers.

What to try: Tommy Passion.

A deliciously fruity cocktail of whiskey, passion fruit, lime and ginger ale.

The Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fair ran from February 5-7th 2016 in Dublin.

For an overview of the pub sector in Ireland, read this, it’s very interesting.