It initiated the project last year to harvest and brew with a wild Irish yeast. The yeast, Saccharomyces diastaticus, is cultivated from the walls of Oweynagat cave in County Roscommon.
The resulting beer, Underworld, makes The Black Donkey brewery the only one in the country (and the planet come to that) brewing with a native Irish yeast and Underworld is to be added to the brewery’s core range this year.
Two batches of the wild yeast beer have been brewed so far, the bulk of which has been bottled. The first, brewed last Autumn, sold out so quickly that another batch was brewed hot on its heels, The Black Donkey’s Founder/Brewer/Director Richard Siberry told Drinks Industry Ireland.
“We have a product that nobody else has and a product that people will travel for,” he added, “From a publican’s point-of-view, you can’t get this at home, it’s a unique West of Ireland experience.”
The main thrust of Underworld is on draught around the Galway, Sligo – Connaught – area.
The wild yeast project garnered quite a bit of international attention including that from ABC in Australia and a BBC article on the topic.
“Underworld is a product with which I hope to lead our 2019 export initiative,” explained Richard, “It’s the most unique beer currently being brewed in Ireland. We’ve modified our bottling line to fill export-friendly 330ml bottles in addition to our current 500ml offerings.”
With its own bottling line, the brewery exported some 15-16% of its beer range last year.
The Connaught brewery’s domestic beer range has a “reasonable” distribution in the West being mostly distributed between Athlone and Galway.