We’ve always had numerous beers from across the Irish Sea on the shelves here. Well, for as long as I can remember Real Ale bottles have been around and Craft Beers landed a few years back. CAMRA get hung up on the difference but as far as I’m concerned Real Ale is the more traditional of the two and has been around a lot longer and, well, Craft Beer is a bit more ‘trendy’. You could say something about cask vs keg but that’s not particularly relevant in Ireland where cask ale is a rare thing indeed.
But I digress, for the vessels I supped from this week were mostly cans. Two London breweries have launched very recently on the Irish market. Gipsy Hill is being distributed by Carlow Brewing Company over here and they kindly dropped off a few cans for me to try. The artwork on these cans is pretty cool and they all come with a feel for the personality of the people behind the beers. The beers? Beatnik is a very drinkable Pale Ale. Southpaw is a pleasant Amber with a touch of spice about it. And Hepcat has a lovely fruity hoppiness. There is also talk of some special limited editions landing, Urban Brewing would be the best bet to get to try those!
Five Points are the other new kids on the block. They are being distributed by Four Corners and they have a representative on the ground called Francesca. Both breweries have had launch events in Ireland but I was unable to attend either of them. This trio of cans was purchased in the Athlone branch of O’Brien’s. The branding is very clean but I could get easily confused between the XPA and the Pale Ale. The XPA went down very nicely indeed and the oats did a sterling job of adding body and giving the beer a smooth mouthfeel. The Pale Ale was nice and juicy and the IPA was pretty decent.
The Irish Craft Beer Market must look pretty lucrative from London when we have two launches so coincidentally close to each other. But I had two thoughts as I drank these beers:
1) we have Pale Ales and IPAs that are the equal of these here. I’m not saying that we should drink Irish or support local exclusively. That would be hypocritical and wrong headed of me. And consumer choice is great!
2) a few Irish Craft Beer breweries have gone out of business in the last few months. That, and the uncertainty about Brexit would give me pause for thought if I was launching in a new market. But I’m sure they’ve considered all of these factors already. And I hope both are successful. As I have said consumer choice is great and competition brings out the best in everyone, doesn’t it?
Just some idle musings on an afternoon. Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think. Sláinte!