Irish Craft Beer: A New Hope.

With the new bill to allow craft breweries & distillers to sell their own produce on-site without acquiring a bar license a mere handful of bureaucratic footsteps away, & in sight breweries like Hope Beer in Kilbarrick in Howth, County Dublin are excited & already in the process of putting together their taproom to complete their piece of the puzzle like so many other craft brewers in Ireland. So, I took this opportunity to take a visit to see Hope’s brewery, check out the taproom & catch up with my old drinking buddy, their headbrewer Mark Nixon.

Mark Nixon is one of a number of young, ridiculously talented brewers in Ireland today who are not only pushing new boundaries with bold flavoured beers, but they’re at the vanguard of our beer resurgence in Ireland. Having previously tenured as head brewer of another favorite of mine, Trouble Brewing in Kill, County Kildare, the Dublin man is brewing back in his home county.

As you rock up to Hope’s brewery, there’s the DART station so close you could literally fall off the platform & almost land at the door of the brewery (okay, so this may actually require some Tarzan-esque or Green Arrow shenanigans), but it bodes well for tourist visits to the brewery from Dublin City. Big bright yellow & black brewery signs guide you to the door. Also helps there’s a Hope-mobile outside (a.k.a. ‘their branded delivery van’).

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The Hope-Mobile

Walking through the front offices into the brewery, just like Yellowbelly in Wexford, Hope’s yellow colour is striking on the walls of the brewhouse, as is the shiny brewporn that is their brewhouse. And it is a hell of a good looking one. The pipework is an OCD addict’s wet dream. And it’s a thing of beauty. Mark gives me the full working rundown of their brewhouse, how it works, their vertical chain feed mill, the Lauter, mashtun, kettle & even how their wort chilling system can help heat water for the next brew they need to do. I honestly get really excited about stuff like this, even though at this point I can myself barely even brew a decent beer myself. But one day, I’d like to be able to learn to use something like this.

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Hope, is brewing in Howth

Hope’s core beer range honestly has something for everyone. For those who dig the farmhouse funk, a Saison called ‘Grunt‘, an IPA named ‘Handsome Jack‘, a blonde ale called’Passifyoucan‘, & a recent addition, a lager called ‘Underdog‘ (which has one of my favorite pieces of beer label artwork ever done, which is South American themed). All of which are incredibly well made beers, as you’d expect under Nixon’s stewardship. They include these in a special 5-pack box of beer along with the latest seasonal, which I also think is a pretty cool idea. I’d recently written about their latest seasonal, ‘Summer Session IPA‘, which for me set an all new bar for Summer beers.

On today’s visit however, I got to try two new seasonal  beers they are getting ready to release; seasonal #6, which is a tropical sour & seasonal #7,which is a tropical IPA.

Both of these are going to be complete crowd pleasers right now given how sours have been taken to Ireland, & the latest trend in fruity IPA’s. I’ll have reviews on these two soon, along with the rest of the range as I was given one of the 5-packs, but needless to say I think people are going to be buying alot of these when they release. They are simply fabulous.

After talking me through the new beers, Mark then kindly showed me their new taproom in progress, which looks out on the brewery on one side, and Kilbarrack road the other. Coiled bulb lamp lighting hangs from pallets on the ceiling, with some vintage furniture in the center. A merch case stands to the left of you entering it with their glasses (and god they’re pretty – I really need to get some of them as their logo on a snifter glass looks bloody lovely). It’s going to be a lovely spot for a beer. Now, usually there’d be some out there rolling their eyes uttering the ‘H‘ word, but they’d be wrong. The usual problem with that decor is it’s overdone to hell when deployed. It’s been done super sparingly in here, & it works, with the light fitting acting as the central focus point of the room.

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Hope on tap

While the taproom isn’t finished quite yet, I can picture what they’re going for. And I think it’s going to really help a brewery like Hope. In fact, taprooms I believe are going to help many micro breweries in Ireland. I don’t believe with the new license changes for breweries are going to give us American-style beer gardens or live event venues like Dogfish Head in Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, or Stone’s World Bistro & Gardens in Liberty Station in San Diego, CA. But I think they won’t be too far off those we see in some of the regional breweries in the UK. And this is great for local tourism, growth in the craft brewery sector, & additional growth revenues for brewers, which could help create new jobs at microbreweries.

This is an exciting time. And trips like this one I made, give me an all new Hope for our microbrewery landscape.


 

Many thanks to Hope Beer (and especially Mark Nixon for taking time out to show me around) for having me over, showing me around., sharing their stories, meeting their team, trying beers & being able to see where some of my favorite beers at the moment are coming from & meet who’s behind them in person.

DISCLAIMER: While this was not a sponsored piece, nor was I solicited by them to write it, or visit, some token beers were received from Hope Beer.

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