Friday, June 4, 2010

The re-awakening of Irish Craft Brewing

Ireland's brewing history is a rich and colourful one. However if you were to ask somebody today to name an Irish brewed beer, you would more than likely get the answer of Guinness, or possibly Murphys or Beamish. You would be surprised to hear names like Galway Hooker, Helvic Gold, Clotworthy Dobbin, Headless Dog, Oir etc. However we have seen in recent years a re-emergence of micro brewing in Ireland, the latest addition being the Dungarvan Brewing Company from Waterford. So the question is, are we seeing a re-awakening of the Craft Brewing industry in Ireland?

A fews years ago some of the guys over on  decided to try and trace the rich history of Irish brewing and to create a map of Ireland highlighting all of the 'lost' breweries, currently the map contains references to over 160 breweries from Ireland's past. I am in no way suggesting that these type of figures could be replicated again, however with the launch of a number of micro breweries in the last few years it is undountedly a sign of progress, maybe even a re-awakening. Here are some of the new breed of Irish Craft Breweries:

Est.: 2010
Products: Black Rock Irish Stout, Copper Coast Red Ale and Helvick Gold Blonde Ale

Est.: 2006
Products: Galway Hooker, Irish Pale Ale

Products: Oir
Stockists: Currently limited availability, watch out for it on the guest tap in the Bull & Castle and other specialist pubs.

The question of course that all of this boils down to is whether or not there is a significant market in Ireland to support micro breweries that intend to maintain a focus on the local market? Here are some interesting facts:
  • There are just under 1500 Microbrewers, brew pubs and craft breweries operating in the United States, thats one for every 206,000 people. At that concentration the island of Ireland could theoretically support 30 Microbreweries!
  • The Irish beer market is worth approximately €3.2bn (2007 figure), if microbreweries could capture 1% of that market it would mean annual sales in the region of €32m.
The acid test for all of this is persuading consumers to choose not only something different, but something Irish. This is a task that will begin in earnest on the 1st of July with the official launch of Beoir, a beer consumers group for Ireland. More on this to follow.

No comments: