Those who’ve followed my musings on craft beer in Ireland over the last few years know how damning I’ve been about Irish craft beer producers & their enslavement to ‘the trinity’ (Stout/Pale Ale/Red Ale), & that their beers have been just way too safe. How long ago that seems amidst a plethora of kettle sours, super aggressive hoppy IPA’s, & fruity beers. And without sounding like a flip-flop; I’m super SUPER happy.
And at the same time, we’ve never ever had this many foreign craft beers available in Ireland to buy in bars & off licenses. The choice is bloody incredible. It is a fantastic time to be a craft beer drinker in Ireland. And yet. the more foreign beers we get, the more I find myself drawn to Irish craft beers.
Let me be abdundently clear here. This is absolutely not about flag waving. I do not go in for that for one second. I believe products should stand on their own merits irrespective of country of origin. Nor, is this about limited availability/seasonality of craft beers. And a good example of this, is what my regular drinking beers are.
- IPA: ‘Francis’ Big Bangin IPA’ from McGargles or Stone IPA by Stone Berlin
- Pale Ale: KPA by Blacks of Kinsale or Eternal by Northern Monk
- Stout: Galway Bay Buried At Sea or BrewDog Tokyo* (when it’s availabe)
- Pilsner/Lager: Fancy Franks Lager by McGargles or Anchor Steam
- Barley Wine: Louder by Porterhouse Brewing
- Double IPA/Strong Ale: Ruination by Stone Berlin or Arrogant Bastard by Stone Berlin
- Red/Amber: Amber Ella by Eight Degrees or BrewDog 5AM Saint
To put this in perspective, three years ago – these were my regular drinkers:
- IPA: Punk IPA by BrewDog or Sierra Nevada Torpedo
- Pale Ale: KPA by Blacks of Kinsale or BrewDog Dead Pony Club
- Stout: Tokyo* by BrewDog or Brooklyn Black Chocolate
- Pilsner/Lager: Anchor Steam or Sam Adams Boston Lager
- Barley Wine: Clown King by BrewDog or Louder by Porterhouse Brewing
- Double IPA/Strong Ale: Hardcore IPA by BrewDog
- Red/Amber: 5AM Saint or Levitation by Stone Brewing
As you can see; alot has changed. Have I fallen out of love with BrewDog? Nope – I love them just as much as I always have. It’s just I think that Irish micro breweries have gotten that much better, & the quality of the beers is right up there with Ellon, despite the scale difference. They’re definitely paying a heck more attention to the market changes & the continued growing openness of craft beer drinkers in Ireland who are happy to push the envelope as that number grows too.
I also think in terms of creativity, I think Irish Brewers are really pushing the envelope & to my taste preferences, are producing the kind of beers I really want to have regularily. Does it mean I don’t pick up Torpedo or Punk or Anchor Steam anymore? Of course I do. But, these have become super occasional now. In fact, I honestly cannot remember the last time I bought Dead Pony Club.
Buying local ‘because you should’ makes sense when it gives you what you want. When it doesn’t, being a nationalistic/local flag-waver doesn’t change things. Voting with your hard earned cash does. And boy are Irish craft breweries getting my vote a heck of alot these days.