There are now about 22 craft brewers in Ireland responsible for employing around 90 people and accounting for around one per cent of the beer market, according to the organisers of the 2012 Irish Craft Beerfest. In the UK the number of breweries topped 1,000 last month.
Despite some craft breweries having operated here for more than 15 years, it’s only in the last few years that a surge in demand has been recorded – especially in the on-trade.
“The Irish craft beer market has come on in leaps and bounds,” reported Seamus O’Hara, owner of the Carlow Brewing Company and Co-Founder of the Irish Craft Beer Week and Festival, “We were export-focused in the early days because craft beer was so new to the Irish market but we’re very encouraged by the surge in demand in Ireland in the past couple of years and we just need people to know what craft beer is, what it tastes like and what it entails.”
Irish Craft Beer Week was officially opened in the Bull & Castle in Dublin’s Christchurch area. The launch entailed a craft beer and food pairing experience hosted by the Bull & Castle’s Manager Geoff Carty along with Seamus and Co-Founder of the Irish Craft Beer Week and Festival Bruce Mansour.
The event was aimed at showing support and ongoing commitment to craft beer drinkers and fans. Seamus and Bruce were also confident that the Craft Beer Week would introduce new customers to the Irish craft beer market.
"We were absolutely thrilled with the turnout at this year’s festival with almost double the attendance figures of last year” stated Seamus, “even the sun made a special effort to turn up!"
His partner Bruce added, "For craft beer fans, the festival was a real treat. We had 19 brewers/cider makers and almost 100 different brews on offer. For newcomers to the craft beer market, this weekend was the ultimate introduction to what the Irish craft beer market has to offer."
Over 70 participating outlets nationwide (including pubs, off-licences and restaurants etc) came together in support of Irish craft breweries and offered craft beer lovers a “hop-tastic” experience for the Week including special offers, tastings and expert views on the product range.
The ultimate insight into the Irish craft beer market was held in the RDS from the 7th to the 9th September as the fourth Irish Craft Beer Festival swung into action offering a celebration of Irish craft brewing, live music and fabulous Irish artisan food stalls.
The Festival featuring craft breweries, craft cider producers and a number of guest breweries attracted over 5,000 visitors across the weekend. Niche brands, new products and pipeline products were all showcased at the Festival which also provided craft beer lovers with a unique insight to the Irish craft brewing scene and the opportunity to meet the brewers.
For the first time the Festival launched with a one-of-a-kind beer and food pairing evening, offering guests the opportunity to learn more about the different attributes and traits of Irish craft beers as well as providing a deeper understanding on which foods compliment different types of craft beers.
Irish craft breweries featured at the Festival included O’Hara’s, Dungarvan, White Gypsy, Eight Degrees, Trouble, Franciscan Well, Portherhouse and Dingle breweries. Guest breweries included both Sierra Nevada and Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale.
“We’ve seen really strong growth in demand for craft beers in the past year bucking the general trend for the beer sales,” noted Seamus, “It’s getting people talking about beer in pubs again and because craft beer has more flavour we’re seeing a lot of experimentation with food parings.”
“The Irish craft beer market has come on in leaps and bounds,” reported Seamus O’Hara, owner of the Carlow Brewing Company and Co-Founder of the Irish Craft Beer Week and Festival.