2013 looks to be a bumper year for Irish craft brewing. With Mountain Man launching shortly, to be followed by Holy Mountain, 9 White Deer and several others, the prospective is one of greater choice than ever before for the beer consumer.
The established microbreweries, meanwhile, are struggling to keep up with demand, and two of them have recently undertaken expansion work.
The Galway Bay Brewery opened at The Oslo in Salthill, Co. Galway in 2009. The brewkit was a modest 10hL set-up in a rear corner of the building. Since opening, however, the Cottage Group of pubs which owns the brewery has expanded significantly and now carries three to four Galway Bay beers in seven pubs in Dublin and Galway as well as the brewpub itself. With plans afoot to launch the range in bottles too, the need for greater capacity was obvious.
Space has been found on the Oslo premises to double the kit size and a 20hL brewhouse is now under construction. The open fermenters will largely be replaced by sealed unitanks allowing a much greater degree of control over each batch. A smaller pilot brewery is also to be installed, allowing what head brewer Chris Treanor describes as "more adventurous brews" to be produced. The new area is split over two storeys, allowing for a on-site malt store as well as a laboratory.
The new brewkit arrives next month and Chris is hoping the first beer from it will be flowing in July.
Meanwhile, the elder of Co. Donegal's two breweries -- Kinnegar, established 2011 -- is also in the process of increasing its capacity, "from tiny to just plain small" says proprietor Rick LeVert. A purpose-built brewhouse is almost finished at time of writing, occupying a compact 100 square metres on a farmyard site overlooking Lough Swilly.
The brewery will be home to a two-vessel brewkit plus three cylindrical fermentation vessels and a number of conditioning and bright beer tanks. Determined to keep the business on a farmyard scale, the new Kinnegar brewery will be creating its beers in 10hL batches.
June 2013 is the month Rick expects his hair to go grey, with the expected completion of the building, delivery of the equipment and -- all going well -- the first brewday. You can see pictures of the new brewery and follow developments as they happen on the Kinnegar Brewing website.
Beoir wishes every success to both projects and we look forward to tasting the new beers.