Irish Craft Beer 2019: Unmissable Beers from Ireland

Rascals Brewing based in Dublin.

Brody Rossiter takes an in-depth look at the rocky history of the Irish beer landscape and reveals how there’s far more to Irish beer than a pint of Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day…

Modern Irish Beer

Though the colours of Diageo’s Guinness may well still adorn the fronts of public houses throughout the land, independent craft beer producers are making themselves heard through the production of characterful and quality-driven beers that are proving serious contenders to the once insurmountable stout.

Since 2012, Republic of Ireland  based microbreweries have more than trebled in number – highlighting the public’s newfound thirst for small batch beer and vast possibilities for growth. However, this isn’t the first time that a more under the radar approach to brewing made a play for mainstream attention.

The early days of Ireland’s independent brewing scene will still linger in the minds of those who were there to experience its troubled beginnings. Naivety and a lack of experience on the part of smaller breweries established throughout the 1980s, led to a multitude of issues that would eventually submerge their artisan approach to brewing beneath a wave of the black stuff and mass-produced straw-coloured fizz. The bigger brands encouraged publicans to remove craft brews, and often those who did stock their bars with unconventional new tipples took a less than urgent approach to paying their bills – leading to the downfall of many brewers.

As Irish craft once again faces competition from those wanting to take advantage of its resurgence, projects such as “Downstream” are ensuring that the providence of truly independent Irish beer is safeguarded and transparent, ensuring consumers are given the necessary information about the beer they choose to drink and producers they choose to support in the process. Independent Irish beer continues to grow and evolve by the day; a fact exhibited by the breweries that walked away with awards at our Independent Beer Awards and the exciting prospects on the horizon. We’re passionate about Irish beer, and you should be too!

The White Hag Brewery based in Sligo.

Welcome Home

Today, craft is back in town, and in a big way. The number of Irish breweries continues to grow, while a reputation for quality products is being reinforced by producers such as White Hag.

The Ballymote-based brewery are one of the most exciting and unique breweries to arrive in the wake of the recent craft beer boom. Combining traditional and modern techniques to build upon beloved native Irish styles with their own distinct twist, the brewery have rediscovered and reintroduced extinct styles from the many breweries that once thrived in Ireland. With American-inspired, hop-forward offerings also finding their way out of the brewery, White Hag offer drinkers a multitude of eclectic and complex options.

White Hag are but one of the many of the vibrant Republic-based breweries steering modern Irish beer into the future. 8 Degrees, Black’s Of Kinsale, Galway Bay, Hope, Metalman, Rascals and Whiplash are now landmarks upon of Ireland’s rejuvenated brewing landscape, offering distinct, flavourful and storied beer brewed with passion and expertise.

Travel north and there’s even more to discover. Hailing from Belfast, Boundary are a brewing cooperative established by head brewer Matthew Dick. The brewery has quickly become a favourite amongst craft lovers, recognisable for painterly labelling and a dynamic approach to styles and flavours. From hop-forward US-influenced beers, to modern interpretations of classic Belgian and French farmhouse brews, Boundary are carving a distinct path for beer lovers to journey to down. Heaney Farmhouse Brewing are another Northern Ireland-based brewery that we’re proud to champion due to their characterful brews inspired by classic Irish styles such as red ales and dry stouts.

“We have a slice of Heaney land, a source of pure water right beneath our feet and a brewer. We want to create a home for our beers and somewhere to welcome visitors from all over, whether they are interested in beer or poetry.”

Heaney’s goal is to make exceptional beer and create something universal from their tiny rural patch. Inspiration springs from their farm, the land and the people. The addition of pure Bellaghy spring water and an inspired brewer combine to bring you great beer. There’s a story inside every bottle.

Kinnegar Brewing

Kinnegar is named after the nearby beach in County Donegal. Filtering or pasteurising is not for them, instead they let their industrious little friends, the yeast, carbonate the beer naturally during fermentation. Since the opening of their state-of-the-art facility in nearby Letterkenny, the sounds of the brewery no longer mingles with the bleats of sheep – yet their farmhouse ethos remains the same.

Blacks of Kinsale

Sam and Maudeline Black, are a husband and wife team, who started their brewing company Kinsale Craft brewery in 2013. This venture/obsession first began many years ago when Maudeline gave Sam a beer making kit for Valentines Day. What started as a hobby quickly developed into an obsession and thus through Sam’s passion and enthusiasm Kinsale Craft brewery became reality. Living the dream since 2013. Black’s Brewery want to escape the mundane of the mass market by production beers with passion and personality. Their Kinsale Pale Ale is an exciting fusion of Cascade and Citra hops.

Irish Beer O'Brother Joe Coffee Porter
Irish Beer O Brother Brewing Can

O’ Brother Brewing

O’ Brother Brewing are quickly becoming one of 2019’s most exciting Irish prospects thanks to their crushable lineup of releases. Following the introduction of some new recipes and a striking rebrand featuring the diverse work of a range of local artists, we’ve seen the demand for their beers grow and the Untappd ratings continue to rise.