Franciscan Well Sign

"Give me one year" asks Shane Long, co-founder of The Franciscan Well. As the news officially broke last week regarding the Molson Coors buyout of the Well, speculation and opinion has been rife regarding what this means not only for the Well but also for Irish Craft Brewing.

Shane has been in the business longer than most. "It"s been 14 years" he says "I still remember the early days, sleeping in the back of my van before doing the deliveries up in Dublin or on floors of friends apartments." And Shane is deeply passionate about beer as anyone who knows him would agree. So why the sale to Molson Coors? "I needed to expand and I couldn't do it alone. I had demand for our beers that I couldn't fulfill."

Shane's need to expand came earlier in the year when he was given a very viable opportunity to increase his sales by exporting to America. "They [the new customer] came here last March because of the awards we had won and once they tasted the beer they brought me to New York to arrange an import agreement."

When you say “home-brew” to most people, they think of cheaply made, poor quality beer. Cloudy, foul smelling muck, only the most desperate college student would drink. The reason that people think this is because, a lot of the time, this is exactly the case. When people decide they want to make their own beer they are often motivated by the desire for cheap alcohol. They don't see it as taking up a hobby, nor do they think there are any skills to be acquired, they just want to have some cut price booze.


Award logoFor the second year, members of Irish Craft Brewer attending the Easter Beer Festival at The Franciscan Well in Cork selected their favourites from among the Irish craft beers exhibited. (Results for 2007 are here.)

The contenders included cask beers from Carlow, Franciscan Well, Hilden, Hooker and White Gypsy (Messrs Maguire). All brought keg beers too, as did UCC Pilot Brewery and The Porterhouse. Whitewater were represented in bottled form only, and other bottled contenders included White Gypsy's Black Pearl and O'Hara's Celebration from Carlow, both stouts.

The Easter Festival run by the Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork provides a unique opportunity for people to experience a huge range of quality Irish Craft Beers in one location. With this in mind, a group of ICB members converged on the Well to sample with gusto. This fantastic festival also provided an opportunity to compare and contrast the beers made available by the various breweries on that weekend, which is exactly what the ICB members present did. The result of this was a set of ratings by our members which, we feel, recognises of the quality work Professional Craft Brewers are doing in this country; so much so, that it has spawned the first Awards that is proud to present.

Award logoThe results of the third annual Irish Craft Brewer Awards were announced at the 2009 Franciscan Well Easter Beer Festival on Saturday 11th April. In a radical change from procedures in 2007 and 2008, voting was opened to all members and every one of the ninety or so beers brewed and sold on the island of Ireland in the previous twelve months was eligible for nomination.

This was very much a drinkers' choice awards, and the winners can truly be said to be the favourite among people in Ireland who genuinely care about the beer they drink.