There are 75 independent craft breweries currently operating in Ireland, a five-fold increase from 15 in 2012 according to Bord Bia’s Craft Beer and Independent Microbreweries in Ireland 2018 report. In total 10 new craft breweries entered the market in the year to mid-2018. However, this increase was offset by five company closures in the same period, along with two further craft brewery closures in 2016. The craft beer sector provides employment opportunities in rural and urban areas across 24 counties, employing an estimated 522 people on a full- and part-time basis.
Despite a 2.1% decline in overall beer consumption, Irish craft beer consumption increased by 12.7% in the same period, increasing its domestic consumption market share to 2.8% from 2.5% in 2016.
Production of craft beer increased by 10.7% and now accounts for 1.9% of overall beer production in Ireland. The turnover of craft beer producers in 2017 is estimated at €44.3 million, up 10.9% from €39.4 million in 2016.
Although the total output of craft breweries increased from 142,000hl to 157,000hl in 2017, growth has reduced from 2016 and 2015 when production experienced a 31% and 56% increase respectively. Almost 20% of microbreweries experienced a decline in output in 2017, an increase on last year’s figure of one in six. The volume of production destined for export is estimated at 19.4% or 37,000hl.
“While growth in the craft beer industry has slowed, the increase in domestic consumption of Irish craft beer is an encouraging sign of consumer demand for premium and artisanal products,” said Denise Murphy, Beverage Sector Manager at Bord Bia, “The sector is still in the early stages of development and there is future potential for growth based on the experience of craft brewers internationally and unused capacity in many independent breweries. It’s positive to see that nearly three-quarters of those surveyed are either planning to open or have already opened a visitor centre as a way to increase awareness and sales of their products in the future.”