In order to brew their Christmas Ales at scale in the 10 Hectolitre brewhouse in St James’s Gate alongside the Smithwick’s brewers, Smithwick’s recently welcomed homebrewing duo Stephen Ryan and Brian Mooney from Celbridge, Co Kildare and Polish native Sebastian Kondol from Ballyfermot to St James’ Gate – a first for the brewery and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the homebrewing enthusiasts as part of Smithwick’s Homebrew Challenge.
Over the past two months homebrewers across the country have been brewing Christmas Ales for this inaugural challenge. The two finalists had the rare opportunity to recreate their Christmas Ales at scale in the 10hl brewhouse alongside the Smithwick’s Brewers.
Judged by Smithwick’s brewers, members of the National Homebrew Club and expert beer bloggers, Stephen and Brian’s cinnamon, nutmeg and star anise brew ‘Old Town Christmas Ale’ and Sebastian’s apple, cinnamon and spiced ginger brew ‘Apple Pie Ale’ were selected from over 70 entrants judged on their taste profile, aroma, mouthfeel and appearance. But taste was the most important factor in the judging process.
“An occasion like Christmas calls for a special brew – and our finalists nailed it,” commented Smithwick’s Brewer Natasha Alves.
“We already feel like winners,” commented one finalist, Stephen Ryan, “The real prize for us was going into St James’s Gate. This is the first homebrew competition we’ve ever entered and only our second attempt at an all-grain beer – and now we’re getting to brew in St James’s Gate, it’s a dream come true.”
Sebastian Kondol was similarly enthusiastic: “I’ve brewed over 100 batches and each year I’ve always brewed a special beer for Christmas time,” he said, “This year will be incredible as I’ll get to enjoy the beer that I create in St James’s Gate with my friends in the pub”.
Jennifer English, Marketing Director of Smithwick’s, added, “We know that there’s a huge sense of achievement behind brewing a beer from scratch and we’re excited to welcome homebrewers into St James’s Gate to collaborate with our brewers in brewing their own recipes”.
Trade locations of where the two brews will be available to sample will be available in the coming weeks. The winner of the inaugural Smithwick’s Homebrew Challenge will be announced following the public vote at an event in early December. To find out more follow the conversation: