There are so many breweries across Europe, we get that it’s tricky keeping up with them all. So, each month, we’re diving deeper into the innovative and exciting breweries that we work with — hopefully helping you to continue on your craft beer journey.
Freshness is king in beer, so what better way to start than with a new brewery? We’re keen on the Spanish scene, and not just because we’re looking for an excuse for a ‘business trip’ as soon as we can travel again. With the perfect mix of great weather, local ingredients, culinary culture and cosmopolitan cities, Spain has everything required for a craft beer boom to erupt. The buzzing city of Madrid has been somewhat of a sleeping giant on the beer front, but younger breweries like Península and our featured brewery Oso have been giving it a kickstart in the last couple of years.
The ever-adaptable Oso are nomadic brewers. This doesn’t mean that they wander the streets of Madrid with nothing but a knapsack of hops — just that they don’t have a permanent brew site, instead embracing craft’s famous spirit of collaboration and hopping on the kit of some of their fellow brewers. They’re also behind Madrid’s top beer destinations, La Osita. Tucked away in this hoppy haven, Madrileños are treated to pints of the latest in Spanish and international beers, as well as Oso’s own ridiculously refreshing range.
“We want to make an accessible range of consistently top-quality beers that appeal to ‘normal’ beer drinkers as well as beer geeks.”
A close connection to the natural splendour that surrounds the brewery informs and inspires each of their beers. Although many of these are now brewed at a second, state-of-the-art facility (known as K2) in Letterkenney, the original farmhouse ethos and attitude remains apparent in the clean and refreshing brews that we’ve become so fond of.
We caught up with founder Libby Carton, and asked a few questions around the brewery and what the future holds for Kinnegar.
What would you say is Kinnegar’s mission as a brewery?
“Our mission is very simple. We want to make an accessible range of consistently top-quality beers that appeal to ‘normal’ beer drinkers as well as beer geeks. Kinnegar feels equally at home both on the shelves of corner stores and in the fridges of eclectic bottle shops.”
How do your roots as a farmhouse brewer come through in your approach to more modern beers like New England & Double IPA?
“Our basic approach is the same no matter what the style: we carbonate naturally using the spünding technique and we neither filter nor pasteurise. Carbonating naturally presents its fair share of problems with dry-hopping but we’ve successfully overcome them. There’s been a few mishaps — Rachel took a proper drenching on top of a big tank in our early days in K2 after one of our less successful attempts at the manoeuvre. We’ve fine-tuned things since then!”
What plans do you have for the next few months/year?
“Surviving the pandemic is Target No.1! We’ve just added three new 70HL tanks so they will keep the core side of the operation moving along nicely for the next while. The next stainless steel to arrive will be going to K1 as we begin production again in our original premises in Rathmullan. We’ll be putting in a coolship and doing plenty of work with brett and spontaneous fermentation. We’re calling the project the Phunk Farm. Thankfully, with 24km of clear space between the two facilities, we have the comfort of knowing that there’s no chance of our yeast strains meeting casually at the water cooler. And there are also plans for a taproom at K2…”
White Rabbit is a beer that sits nicely with the range, but offers something a little bit different. How would you describe it to someone who’s never tried it?
“White Rabbit isn’t a beer that we can pigeonhole very easily! “White” is strongly linked to Belgian beer, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, whereas White Rabbit is an American Wheat Beer with no connection to the Belgian Witbier tradition. Really, it’s a straight-up session IPA with great bang for its ABV buck. Wheat forms a sizable proportion of the grist bill, but it certainly doesn’t dominate the flavour profile. Expect a creamy mouthfeel and a wallop of hops!”