Kildare is proving to be a hotbed of microbrewery growth. Rye River, Kelly’s Mountain, Kildare Brewing Co., Two Sisters & Trouble Brewing. Trouble Brewing has been a stalwart of the craft beer scene in Ireland for seven years, with favourites such as ‘Deception’, ‘Dark Arts’, & ‘Sabotage‘. But Trouble Brewing in 2017 is a very different animal beer wise & under its third revolution with former Bo Bristle brewer Dave Guilfoyle taking over the reins from Mark Nixon, who left to head up brewing at Hope. The third act of a story is typically meant to be the high point, & with the beers coming from their Kill facility today, Trouble are showing no sign of let-up.
Trouble Brewing have always produced beers that have been reliable, & if I’ve seen them on tap, I’ve enjoyed them. Their year-round core range is solid. Under Mark Nixon, they grew a reputation for some ballsy & ridonkulously enjoyable specials such as ‘Chasing the Dragon’, ‘Fallen Idol’, ‘Beoir #2’, ‘Hop Priority’ & of course, ‘Agent Provocateur Rye Red Ale’. But then, one of the cheekiest & most-under-rated young brewers in the country, one Dave Guilfoyle joined them from Bo Bristle. And then?
Dave in his time with Bo Bristle & the Old Schoolhouse brewpub in Swords has turned out some incredible beers that have been beyond his time brewing. It is this kind of natural talent that gets brewers jobs overseeing beer production in a brewhouse like Trouble’s. In his short time there, he’salready knocked out beers like soft-serve Mandarina Bavaria hopped & mandarin lager, a Hopfenweisse, , sour beers, more IPA styles than I have digits to count on & it isn’t stopping there.
Trouble are a different brewery to some of the newer kids on the block. And I think it’s one of the reasons I enjoyed this particular visit (my first since Dave took over from Mark). On this visit, as always I bump into Stephen Clinch who as always remains oneof the most interesting people I know in the Irish microbrewing industry, with his sarcastic sense of humour. And it’s the characters of people in the industry that make getting to know where your beers come from so bloody fascinating. And he is one of those characters any time I come across him, it’s enjoyable as well as memorable for all the best reasons.
As I take a trip up to my old homestead of Kildare on a late August Wednesday morning, out front is still the small Trouble Brewing sign. Their signage has always been an under-statement to the beers they’ve produced (even their core beers), which again too often I feel don’t get enough ‘shine’.
The brewhouse is crammed with beer to go out for delivery. Up until recently, all their beers have only been available in 500ml bottles, kegs or cask. There is pallete upon palette of bottles of beer ready to go out to retail, & their deal with Lidl looks like it’s doing pretty well. I notice how quick their beers move in my own local Lidl’s, whether it was Kilcock before or Gorey in Wexford now. They are popular, including the Grafitti session beer.
Their current specials are heading out into cans for the first time. And in white cans, which really makes the branding of them very standout. I get to try ‘Remix’ (their IPL) for the first time, & it’s magical. Irish brewers lately are really creating some of the best lagers out there, & doing lagers how I’d like them.
Stephen & Dave note that people haven’t been as eager to pick this up off shelves, but when they do, they enjoy it. I personally believe the idea of an IPL or ‘India Pale Lager’ on a beer label has always been a bit of a niche title & that breweries should just call them ‘Lagers’ & be done with it, or at worst ‘Extra Lagers’ in the same way Sierra Nevada call Torpedo an ‘Extra IPA’.
Then we move on to ‘Ambush’ which has had rave reviews from many. And those reviews really do not do that beer justice at all. It is probably one of the top ten Pale Ales I’ve ever had. And that is saying something for someone who’s tried well in excess of 2,500 unique beers from around the globe in his lifetime.
Then, we move onto the passionfruit lager, ‘Last Crash’. And it is simply beyond words. The passionfruit is there without the atypical cloy sweetness that sometimes gets added to passionfruit, which so far removes it from the fruit tastes like. It perfectly works in the lager.
With that, we head out to the brewhouse where a check on one of the latest collab beers with StillWater Brewing, a hibiscus infused Berliner Weisse called ‘KillWater’. The colour is magnificent & reminds me of the early taste of ‘Vote Sepp’ by BrewDog I got to try before they over-cleared that beer for release.
And then, it was on to try the latest collab beer with Wicklow Brewers, O’Brother called ‘Blood Brothers’ infused with Blood Oranges. I have a major love for blood orange beers, especially after I brewed my own imperial wheat beer infused with them & some cardamom (a beer I’d love to brew at a proper brewery one day – hint hint wink wink if any brewery out there fancies a collab … yeah, cheap cheeky-assed plug, I know). But my point stands. It’s savagely good.
And then it’s on to try a beer I was so pissed off I never got to try, to be happily told it’s being produced more of – Mandarina Crush Lager. And it’s fucking everything I had hoped it would be. There’s a rare few times I’ve fallen hopelessly & headlong in love with a beer. I can count them on two hands. And this is one of those occasions.
Trouble Brewing are akin to a Tauren Rogue in World of Warcraft; so good they’re ‘never seen’. I am consistently seeing so many other breweries being touted as being the best the country has to offer (and they are bloody good), but Trouble are too often overlooked. Having one of the four best young brewers in the country, this brewery in Kill, County Kildare & their increased presence in multiples where regular Joe or Joanne doing their weekly shop is picking up their beers is going to be the difference maker as they grow.
Many thanks to Trouble Brewing (and especially Dave Guilfoyle & Stephen Clinch 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 Trouble Brewing.