The three beers were Thumper Imperial IPA, Donegal Lager (Light Lager) and Black Bucket (Black Rye IPA).
The Brussels Beer Challenge, the first professional beer competition in Belgium, was created in 2012 in response to a growing interest in beer culture. Since then, the event has expanded to become one of the world’s most important and prestigious beer competitions.
“It’s particularly gratifying after a gruelling year coping with the pandemic to gain this level of international recognition,” commented Head Brewer and Co-Owner Rick LeVert.
“What’s particularly satisfying about these three medals is the scope and versatility that they represent,” commented Kinnegar’s Seán McCarthy, “To achieve Gold with an Imperial IPA (Thumper) and also with DL (Light Lager) is remarkable. It’s tough to imagine two beers farther apart on the spectrum of taste and appeal.”
That a small brewery on the north western periphery of Europe can hold its own amongst the makers of the world is indicative of the progress made in the past 10 years of Irish brewing, he added.
The brewery’s distributor here, Grand Cru Beers in Dublin, is equally impressed.
“We founded our business 12 years ago with the concept of importing top class beers from America and elsewhere in Europe, with Sierra Nevada as the flagship”, says Grand Cru Beers’ Wally Kiernan, “It’s a testament to the quality and ambition of independent breweries like Kinnegar that over 50% of our warehouse is now occupied by indigenous Irish products.”
Conall Deazley of Northern Ireland distributor Nelson Sauvin agrees.
“We sell a lot of beer from the leading UK and international breweries but there’s no doubt in my mind – and I see the evidence daily in my orderbook – that Kinnegar can hold its own in this company. The fact that it’s Irish and independent adds to the appeal but the quality has to be there first and foremost.”
Co-Owner Libby Carton reflects, “It’s not easy achieving consistency and excellence across such a wide variety of styles but we firmly believe that our customers enjoy and deserve variety. It’s every bit as important to be able to deliver a simple lager as a show-stopper like Black Bucket, our gold medal winning Black Rye IPA”.
Kinnegar, established at commercial scale in 2013, moved from its original home in Rathmullan to its K2 facility in Letterkenny in 2017. With a staff of 16 the brewery produces 12 beers in its core range, six of them available in 500ml bottles and all available in 440ml cans.
To this range can be added a similar number of seasonals and specials as well as the innovative Brewers at Play series of one-off small batch experiments.