Ireland’s pubs, shops and pantries are experiencing a tasty revolution.
Craft-brewed beers are becoming increasingly popular. Hosts and thirsty throats on the green island have not escaped this fact. Friends of artisan brew are discovering new flavors, new possibilities and even better beers. But who is responsible for this trend? The answer is: Ireland’s microbreweries.
Ireland’s brewing artists are fearlessly taking on the world’s biggest brands. The “beer scientists” are busy experimenting and conjure up their very own, incomparable tastes from various combinations of hops, malt, yeast and water.
The most important ingredient here: the yeast.
According to master brewers and beer connoisseurs, the secret lies in finding the right balance of yeast in a brew. Each type of yeast also has its own influence on the beer. It is therefore thanks to the magic of yeast and the dedication of the master brewers that you will remember every sip.
The good old time
In the 19th century over 200 breweries in Ireland produced a wide variety of beers. In the course of time, their number was reduced to a manageable 12. Nowadays, thanks to the independent breweries, this number fortunately increases again steadily. 16 Microbreweries are now in operation in Ireland.
We asked three craft producers about the secret of their success.
Hilden Brewery, County Antrim
Founded in the 19th century, Hilden Brewery is Ireland’s oldest independent brewery. Like so much else in County Antrim, Hilden has a connection to the Titanic. Helen Barbour, daughter of the ship’s architect, Thomas Andrews, once lived in the brewery.
Owen Scullion of Hilden Brewery explains the new beer trend: “Many friends of the well-kept beer discover that beer does not have to be mass-produced. It can be a drink produced with great care and dedication, which always opens up new worlds of taste for connoisseurs.”
Brewery tours: Wednesday and Saturday; or if groups of more than 8 people register.
Try the beer: at Botanic Avenue in Belfast at Molly’s Yard or Hillside in Hillsborough, where usually 2 or 3 different varieties of the Hilden Brewery are served.
Eight Degrees Brewing, County Cork
The brewmasters of Eight Degrees are originally from Australia and New Zealand. But they have chosen the rebellious county as a location for their brewery. Every member of the brewing team, who incidentally all learned the art of brewing in the UK, are busy handling. The boys have a special sense of humor and this is how they describe their Sunburnt Red Ale: “It’s like an Irishman on vacation in Gran Canaria: with a distinctly red hue and a relaxed, serene feel.”
The owner of Eight Degrees, Cam Wallace, explains what he loves about home-brewed beer. It is exactly what makes it so exciting for the connoisseur: “We can experiment with our beers and be flexible. That’s our big advantage. “Customers seem to love the results of these experiments.
Brewery Tours: Currently not possible. But the location of the brewery in the Ballyhoura Mountains makes a trip to the area still worthwhile.
Try The Beer: At Mad Monk in Middleton, County Cork.
Armagh Cider Company, County Armagh
This is a real family business. For over 100 years, the Troughons have been harvesting apples at the estate of Ballinteggart House. While the apples were extremely popular from the beginning, the production of Cider began in 2006. Since then, the Troughtons have hardly come to rest.
“We mainly use the Armagh Bramley apple,” explains Helen Troughton, “which is then mixed with cider apples and dessert apples. This entitles us to mark our products with the “Protected Geographical Indication” award.”
Try the cider: Groucho’s in Richhill is the ideal pub to sample local beers and our ciders. It is not only full of character, but also brings delicious treats on the plate!
So the next time you’re in an Irish pub or restaurant, be sure to order one of those drinks produced with such devotion. According the waiters who now have in-depth knowledge and are happy to help: “At a pub called The Black Sheep in Dublin, I was recommended a St Peter’s Stout: just heavenly.”
That same evening I visited a friend and “I was given a bottle of a normal, sold in Ireland beer of a large brand. I took a sip and could hardly believe how big the difference in taste was,” which now gives me the certainty that “artisan brewed beers should be sold with a warning: Attention! Very tasty!”
What are your experiences with Ireland’s microbreweries and their craft beers? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment box below – cheers.