On 5 August, the World Beer Festival takes us on a journey to meet the breweries, microbreweries and specialist pubs scattered across the island of Ireland.
While Guinness, Murphy’s, Smithwick’s, Beamish and others remain big names in the Irish brewing industry, there are also many independent craft beer brands with over 170 breweries operating on the island – many of which offer tours and tastings.
Brewers all over the country
Among the many talented brewers who are making a splash in Ireland is the Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork, built on the site of a 13th century monastery. Its World Beer Award-winning beers (Rebel Red, Friar Weisse, Chieftain IPA, Shandon Stout…) are sold all over the island, but the best way to enjoy them is at the Franciscan Well Brewpub in Cork with a live music session.
On the Wild Atlantic Way, Galway Bay Brewery revives centuries-old brewing techniques to produce full-bodied, flavoursome beers. Their Full Sail IPA, a Galway Bay red ale, and a chocolate milk stout called Buried at Sea are darlings of Irish beer afficionados. The brewery also operates a number of specialist craft beer pubs across the island, including The Dew Drop Inn in Galway, The Gasworks in Dublin and Northern Lights in Belfast.
In the Secret Heart of Ireland, we recommend Dead Center Brewing in Athlone, on the banks of the River Shannon.
Beers of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is no slouch, with some great names paying tribute to their home region. For example, the community co-operative Lacada Brewery Ltd, located on the famous Giant’s Causeway coastal route, produces ‘East the Beast’, a beer named after a local wave well known to surfers. Or Dunluce Juice, named after the historic Dunluce Castle, and Rathlin Gold, named after the island of Rathlin, which lies off the north coast.
If you would like to take part in a beer masterclass, visit the Walled City Brewery in Derry~Londonderry. Talented brewers will tell you an extraordinary 9,000 year history of brewing and you can sample 10 craft beers with food in an excellent restaurant.
Or take a tour of the Whitewater Brewery, set on a family farm in the spectacular Mourne Ranges. Afterwards, sample these award-winning beers in the tavern and enjoy a limited edition barrel-aged stout.
In the Ancestral Lands of Ireland, the Dungarvan Brewing Company is a popular microbrewery and the perfect spot to quench your thirst after a bike ride along the Waterford Greenway.
And don’t miss Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny, home of the famous Smithwick Ruby Red Ale, brewed in Ireland since 1710. After a major facelift, the experience has recently reopened and offers a fascinating journey into one of Ireland’s most famous beers.