Craft gets canny

The innovations in craft beer just continue to roll along with consumers always looking for the next new development. While IPAs are still as popular as they were a year ago, fruit beers and sour beers have begun to make their presence felt on today’s craft beer market. Our Industry Report looks into the current trends in this dynamic, growing arena.

The craft beer movement has created a global surge in the number of new breweries opening. As the craft beer revolution takes hold in more countries across the globe a new survey from Alltech in conjunction with The Brewers Journal states that 94% of the world’s 19,000-plus breweries are making craft beer.

Although the US is recognised as the originator of the current craft beer movement and has heavily influenced the modern take on traditional styles, there are more craft breweries in Europe than North America.

According to the survey of 209 countries and territories, the largest craft beer producer remains the US with 4,750 craft breweries out of a total of 5,025 breweries. However the UK has the most craft breweries per capita with 25 breweries per million people compared with 15 in the US and 16 in Germany.  The US and the UK alone have seen a year-on-year increase of over 10% in the number of craft breweries in production.

The top 10 craft beer-producing countries are the US, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Australia.

Consumer demand and a growing passion for craft brewing ensures that customers can now get an IPA in India or Iceland, a Saison in Belgium or Brazil and an APA from the US to the Ukraine.

The global momentum behind the craft beer craze has led Alltech to leverage its worldwide presence and create opportunities for craft brewers to network and showcase their creations.

The international company, with a brewing and distilling division renowned for its Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, hosts numerous beer festivals around the globe, the largest of which is the Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair here in Dublin.

Now in its fifth year, the last event featured 38 breweries from five countries and attracted more than 7,000 attendees. The Fair has since been replicated in other locations including Kentucky, Canada, Brazil and China.

“It’s great to see so many different brews being developed for these festivals,” said Gearoid Cahill, European Director of Brewing Science with Alltech, “In Ireland, we found that the majority of seasonals were launched for the first time at the Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair.”

Alltech hosts numerous beer festivals around the globe, the largest of which is the Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair here in Dublin.

Alltech hosts numerous beer festivals around the globe, the largest of which is the Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair here in Dublin.


Women in craft beer

According to a recent survey in the UK by Nicholson Pubs, craft beer and ale is now the top choice for British women in pubs with more than 57% of them seeking out craft beers and ales above whisky or soft drinks.

“Women have always been somewhat undervalued and underestimated,” believes Grainne Walsh of Metalman Brewing in Waterford, “The reason that a lot of women don’t drink beer is because the beer industry has traditionally been marketed at men. Craft beer offers females the opportunities to seek out new flavours, so it’s about the flavour investigation for them as much as the beer itself. It’s more about how it’s presented in terms of flavour profile.”


Craft caution

A word of caution: in the summary of Euromonitor’s just-released report Craft beer: coming of age or past its prime? the researcher predicts a slowing growth trajectory for craft in mature markets and it envisages challenges in consumer perception arising from ‘commoditisation’, but points out that, “The craft trend is still in its infancy in emerging markets”.

Craft beers have also stimulated a wider demand for ‘world beers’ and global beer itself is set for expansion, particularly in Asian markets with China’s beer market set to become the value leader, surpassing even that of the US.


Craft in Ireland

Craft beer consumption witnessed another notable gulp in its share of the overall beer market here last year when it jumped from a volume share of 2.5% to 3.4%.

The increasing presence of craft beer in the on-trade can be seen by the growth in the number of taps taken up by one or more craft beers.

Mintel estimates that craft beer sales in 2016 ran to €21.8 million for RoI with craft beers being drunk by 18% of RoI and 14% of NI consumers.

The drive for authenticity and new flavour experiences helped boost usage.

Beer or cider aged in an oak barrel appeals to almost six in 10 consumers, with this tapping into Mintel’s contention that consumers increasingly seek new and more intense flavour experiences.

Indeed taste remains a key factor, with 59% of RoI and 62% of NI consumers noting that they would only be willing to pay more for a beer (compared to a cheaper equivalent) if there was a difference in taste, thus highlighting that it’s the taste profile of a beer brand that’ll likely pique the interest of Irish consumers.


Canned craft

It seems then that cans, once the pariah of the gentrified beer drinker, are now an increasingly acceptable packaging format for the consumer.

While travelling canneries serve some of the craft breweries others, such as Metalman Brewing in Waterford, now can their own.

“It has changed what we do dramatically,” explains Grainne Walsh, “We wanted control over the packaging process but moving from draught into cans was a really big step for us.

“We did the research and figured out how to run a line at its optimum to ensure the best beer on the shelf.”

As a result, she’s seen the use of the brewery’s canning line go from once every fortnight to every week.

“It’s made a big difference as to how far we can get our beer,” she adds, “Canning gives us a perfect seal unlike a bottle, so no oxygen gets in and it’s very stable.”

Other advantages to canning – overlooked initially – include the fact that with no glass in production, there’s no chance of contamination.

The product is also lighter, with favourable implications for shipping and storage in that one can get 108 on a palette as opposed to 70 or so for bottled beer.

The can surface also leaves “a lot of real estate” for getting your message across to the consumer.

With spare capacity, Metalman is investigating canning for other breweries at present.


Craft trends

Sour beers, porters and especially barrel-aged brews number among the likely trends going forward in the craft beer market.

That’s not to say that interest in coffee stouts or in what a whiskey barrel can impart to a fermenting beer is not gathering an increasing fan base.

Fruit beers too are taking an increasing hold on the UK market where they’re estimated to account for around 13% of the overall craft beer market.

‘Fruiting the beer’ – adding in fruit to the latter stage of brewing – leads to juicy fruity tastes in the final product.

However India Pale Ales or IPAs remain the dominant force on the market for the time being.

“Within IPAs the New England-style IPAs are getting a lot of attention,” believes Seamus O’Hara of the Carlow Brewing Company, “They tend to be less bitter and more fruity with lots of tropical flavours. They tend to be cloudy too, where they’ve taken a lot of the fruitiness from the hops rather than the bitterness.”

He also predicts a trend towards more craft beer appearing in canned format.

“It’s early days but it’s something that will continue to grow,” he says. Cans protect beer much better than bottles – even brown bottles – from being adversely affected by light.

Arguments can also be made that cans provide a better seal and are better for recycling.

“There’s definitely a trend towards premium and craft beer in a can and that’s set to continue,” he says.



Two international awards for Boyne Brewhouse

Boyne Brewhouse scooped two International awards at the 2017 World Beer Awards held recently in London. Boyne Brewhouse Saison received the ‘Country Best – Ireland’ award while Boyne Brewhouse IPA won the ‘Country Gold – Ireland’ category.

The World Beer Awards selects the very best from around the globe in all internationally-recognised styles of drinks.

Boyne Brewhouse IPA (6.8%) has won other awards including:

    • Gold Medal, Dublin Craft Beer Cup 2017
    • 2 Star Great Taste Award 2017

Boyne Brewhouse Saison (5.5%) has also won:

    • Gold Medal, Dublin Craft Beer Cup 2017
    • Best in Category: Speciality, Dublin Craft Beer Cup 2017
    • 2 Star Great Taste Award 2017

Head brewers at Boyne Brewhouse Andrew Jorgenssen and Richard Hamilton were on hand in London’s Olympia to receive their awards.

Winning at the World Beer Awards follows on the heels of two Star Great Taste Awards for IPA and Saison earlier this month. Boyne Brewhouse Lager and limited-edition Imperial Stout were awarded One Star Great Taste Awards.




Cooney’s Irish Cider wins international acclaim at 2017 World Cider Awards 

The team behind Cooney’s Irish Cider are also celebrating international recognition for this new Irish brand after scooping two awards at the 2017 World Cider Awards in London.

The World Cider Awards selects the very best of internationally-recognised styles of drinks and is judged by a panel ofinternational experts.

Cooney’s Irish Cider won the ‘Best Irish Sparkling Cider’ category and was also named “Best Style” winner.


Hope Beer release two Limited Edition brews

Kilbarrack-based craft brewery Hope Beer has launched two new beers – Limited Edition No 6 Tropical Sour and Limited Edition No 7 Tropical IPA.

Limited Edition No 6 is a kettle sour infused with a house blend of tropical fruits including lime, passionfruit, pineapple and mango, then dry-hopped with American Lemondrop hops for a juicy and fruity taste at 4.5% ABV.

Limited Edition No 7 is a fruity, full-bodied IPA. Heavily dry-hopped with juicy US and German hops, it’s finished with a cocktail of tropical fruits including passionfruit and mango, ABV 6.5%.

Always keen to hear customer feedback, Hope Beer recently launched the #HopeAgainstHope initiative which asks that once consumers have sampled both beers they post an image of their favourite to their preferred social media platform, tagging Hope Beer and using the hashtag #HopeAgainstHope. One post was chosen at random each week for four weeks to win a case of the new limited edition Hope Beer.

Renowned for its four core brews – Grunt, Handsome Jack, Passifyoucan and Underdog – Hope Beer strives to create great beers with a distinct brand, story and taste experience.

For more information on its limited edition beers goto:




O’Hara’s Irish Craft Beer has officially entered adulthood! 

The Bagenalstown-based brewery is celebrating 21 years of brewing and as befitting the landmark birthday the team also managed to add a pretty impressive set of keys to their growing portfolio, with the official launch of Urban Brewing, an exciting new Dublin-based microbrewery bar and restaurant.

The microbrewery facilities afford the brewing team an opportunity to flex their creative muscle with small experimental and collaborative brews produced and served on-site and  is key in the future of the family-run brewery, according to Carlow Brewing Chief Executive Seamus O’Hara,

“This is an important development in the evolution of the O’Hara’s brand as it not only allows the team to continue to produce the classic styles that we have spent the last two decades perfecting” he explained, “but to also innovate, to experiment, to play around with different hops and try out new styles and brewing techniques which ultimately gives our loyal customers a reason to keep coming back and our prospective new customers the incentive to join the O’Hara’s community.”

According to Beverage Dynamic’s 2017 Craft Beer Trends a ’continuation of consumers looking for the newest and most unique beer available will lead them to the complexity and range of flavors and aromas that IPAs can deliver’.

While craft beer aficionados in Ireland and beyond are well-versed in the O’Hara’s Irish Stout, Irish Red Ale and Irish Pale Ale, the brewing team continue to push boundaries with interesting collaborations, limited editions and seasonal brews.




Galway Hooker, a pioneer of the modern craft beer movement

Galway Hooker is an independent artisan brewery nestled in the stunning surrounds of the Wild Atlantic Way. A pioneer of the modern craft beer movement – famous for its innovation and quality – Galway Hooker has developed a reputation as one of Ireland’s leading breweries. The brewery’s ethos is to brew natural, full flavoured, high quality and preservative free beers. The results are beers that have received numerous awards, including Gold Medals at the Irish Food Awards in 2014, 2015 and 2016 – the only Irish brewery to have achieved this distinction.

Established in 2006, Galway Hooker produced the original Irish Pale Ale – now the most popular style of craft beer in the country. They also produce a diverse range of core and seasonal beers both on draught and in bottle. There are plans in place to launch a series of limited edition small batch brews on draught in bottle over the course of the next 12 months.

Galway Hooker is Ireland’s third oldest independent brewery and the oldest existing brewery in Connacht. In 2014 the business expanded in to a new state of the art facility in Oranmore, making it one of Ireland’s largest and best equipped craft breweries.


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