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(Micro)brewing up a storm: How Ireland's craft beers are making their mark

Away from the hustle and bustle of the St Patrick’s Day parade, a different type of celebration is set to take place – that of Ireland’s craft beers.

THIS COMING ST PATRICK’S festival will see Irish eyes smiling as the world and their mother claim Irish heritage for the week that’s in it.

While the parade trundles down O’Connell Street in a sea of green, white and orange, there will be a smaller celebration in Dublin’s IFSC.

Artisan producers of ale and lager are set to bring their craft beers to the Irish Craft Beer Village, as brewers the length – Cork and Antrim will be there – and breadth – Galway and Dublin are also represented – of Ireland make an appearance.

And let’s not forget Carlow, Kildare, Waterford, Kerry, Offaly, and Tipperary…

A different business, a different beer

Far from the mega-corporations that churn out unknown hectolitres in the time it takes to read this sentence, an increasing number of smaller breweries are making their own way in the world.

Matching this is an ever-increasing number of beer connoisseurs who want to take their time over their tipple, seeking out new and interesting beers, and spending as much time poring over the details of the ingredients and brewing processes as they spend pouring the end result.

Carley Donegan, who is involved in the upcoming event, says that Ireland’s craft beer and microbrewing industry is going from strength to strength.

So much so, in fact, that demand in certain cases is starting to outstrip supply. “There are some microbreweries from which it’s very difficult to get stock,” Donegan said.

One such example is the Franciscan Well Brewery & Brewpub in Co Cork, who couldn’t take part in the upcoming event due to a lack of stock.

Being a microbrewer gives brewers that niche, but demand can quickly outstrip supply.

Microbrewer and event co-founder Seamus O’Hara, of O’Hara’s Brewery, knows of at least two new microbreweries and a number of cider producers that have set up in the last six months, and can only see the trend continuing.

The issue of supply isn’t going to go away any time soon, however. For tax reasons, microbreweries limit their output to less than 20,000 hectolitres per year.

“Pubs and off-licenses are the main sellers of craft beers and when events [like this] come up, they haven’t got the stock to give,” he said.

“From the craft brewing side, we need events such as this to raise our profile,” he continues. “We’re locked out of a lot of major events where the main sponsor would be a major beer brand.”

Describing the timing of the event, O’Hara thinks it will offer something different. “It’s more relaxed to be honest,” he said. “People are a little bit more chilled. They like to savour the beer and the atmosphere. It’s not as hectic.”

Read: Czech’s historic breweries trying to get back on tap >

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