They don't go in for half measures at the Boyne Brewhouse. The 30hL Kaspar Shulz brewkit was commissioned last October and occupies just one part of the large facility based in a former car showroom by the M1 just outside Drogheda. When a Beoir delegation visited yesterday things were very much a work in progress, with extra fermenters due to come on-stream shortly, a bottling and canning line going through final checks before commissioning, the copper stills of the Boann Distillery awaiting their turn to be hooked up, and a gin still still in bubblewrap in its crate. When the facility is complete it will incorporate a visitors' centre and restaurant as well as a vast warehouse for maturing the whiskey.
The whole lot is owned by the Cooney family and trades under an independent umbrella company which uses the Irish form of the family name: Na Cuana. Pat Cooney bought the Gleeson bottling company in the 1970s and built it into one of the largest drinks firms in Ireland, producing, importing and distributing wine, soft drinks, cider and liqueurs. There was also a brief foray into beer with Behan's Brew No. 1 lager in the early 2000s. Then in 2012, Gleeson's was acquired by C&C, though the cider and cream liqueur arms have remained with the family and are still produced in separate facilities in Tipperary. Now the company has passed to the second generation of Cooneys, adding spirits and beer to the portfolio and expanding the cider range from budget brand Devils Bit to include a mainstream Bulmers competitor as well as a craft brand, Four Keepers, all of them produced from cider apples grown in the family's own orchard. After the sale of Gleeson's to C&C, there was money available. A distillery and brewery was the end result.
Production in Drogheda is headed by brewer and distiller Áine O'Hora who came to the company via Matilda Bay Brewery in Melbourne. Initial plans are for three core beers: Born in a Day pale ale which is already in pubs; Long Arm, a 100% Saaz Dortmunder-style export lager; and Pagan's Pillar, a traditional Irish red given a German twist with Mandarina Bavaria hops. All are 4.8% ABV and will be sold kegged and in the brewery's distinctive custom-embossed bottles. Specials and seasonals will follow in due course and the state of the art packaging facility behind the brewhouse allows for large-format bottles. Canned beer is also being planned. Though the bottles are pasteurised, a 26-metre-long tunnel pasteuriser allows a light touch, with the beer never going over 60°C. In keeping with a philosophy to use local ingredients where possible, malt is supplied by Loughran Family, topped up by speciality varieties from Weyermann.
Unusually for a start-up brewery, there's almost no room for expansion. The company has opted to go straight for the largest size possible -- capable of producing 35,000 hL of beer per year though the intention is to remain under the limit for the microbrewers' lower rate of duty.
The potential of the brewery and its suite of sister products is enormous. Na Cuana is set to become a major player in Irish beer and cider in the months to come as well as being a major tourist draw for Drogheda.
Many thanks to the Cooney family and Áine for their hospitality during our visit.
It’s that time of the year when the evenings get shorter and the days get colder. Which means it’s time for the winter seasonals/Christmas beers. There’s been a massive increase this year with nearly half the Irish microbreweries producing at least one seasonal, and in some cases, two and even three. The styles are almost all malt-forward as expected for the time of year, with a couple of surprises. Red IPAs, Spiced Ryes and of course, the Coffee Porter/Stouts are all well represented. So, get tracking…
Currently there are 40 independent Irish craft brewery's across the island that brew vegan/vegetarian friendly beer. With a massive range of beers and styles there is certainly something for everyone.
This list will be added to over the coming days.
1. St.Mel's Brewing Company
2. DungarvanBrewing Company
3. Western Herd
4. Simon Lambert & Sons
5. RyeRiver (McGargles, Grafters, Solas, Crafty)
6. Brother Brewing
7. Galway Bay Brewery*
9. Wild Bat
10. Black Donkey
12. Independent Brewing Company
13. Wood Key Brewing
14. 8 Degrees Brewing
15. kelly's Mountain Brew
16. Galway Hooker Brewery
17. 9 White Deer Brewery*
18. Mountain Man Brewing
19. Radikale ale
20. Drew Fox
21. Mescan Brewery
22. Barrelhead Brewery
23. JW Sweetman
24. Boundary Brewing
25. Otter Bank Brewing
26. Blacks Brewery *
28. Treaty City Brewing
29. Rising Sons Brewery
30. Walled City Brewery
32. Ards Brewing
33. West Mayo Brewery
34. Four Provinces
35. Elbow Lane
36. Donegal Brewing Company
37. White Gypsy
38. Munster Brewery
39. Torc Brewing.
40. Manor Brewing
*Exception GBB: Buried at Sea, contains lactose.
*Exception 9 white Deer: Cask ale
*Exception Blacks: Some old bottles
On Wednesday 21 October hundreds of beer drinkers from across Europe raised a glass in Brussels to celebrate of 25 years of EBCU (European Beer Consumers Union) campaigning success.
The celebration took place at De Markten, where members were able to sample beers hand delivered from across Europe, showing the great diversity of beer styles and traditions existing in different countries. Members of the European Parliament, European Commission and European Economic and Social Committee officials were in attendance.
Beoir was represented by Chairman Reuben Gray (pictured) and Irish brewing by Carlow Brewing Company, which kindly donated a range of its beers to the event.
The new EBCU executive was welcomed in on the night, which will include Carl Kins from Belgium, Bo Jensen from Denmark, Tim Webb from the UK, Jan Lichota from Poland and Henri Reuchlin from The Netherlands. The new executive will be focusing EBCU's campaigning efforts on promoting transparency in consumer information of beer and for a fair taxation system for beer across the European Union.
EBCU Chairman Henri Reuchlin says: "The 25th anniversary of the EBCU marks an important milestone in our history. We have more support than ever before from European countries, demonstrating the real demand for a pan-European voice for beer drinkers. We look forward to working closely with the European institutions and our member countries to support the beer industry across Europe."