Simply Hops – Getting Great Beer to the People

Simply Hops Guest Post from Daniel Christmas & Emily Swann

Getting Great Beer to the People

At Simply Hops we have been thinking a lot recently about what needs to be upheld and protected within craft brewing, not only for it to continue to grow and flourish, but to an extent for it to transition to its next phase of life? We love craft brewing and we know the genie is out of the bottle now, hopefully meaning craft will be around forever. So, we have to ask these questions to make sure that as much as possible, our own business reflects the ideals of craft and supports it in to the future.

In our opinion one of the cornerstones of craft brewing is localisation; A breweries ability to bring beer styles from all over the world and make it available to the local community. It plays a massive part in the building of a brewery’s sales from its inception, continues to be part of a brand’s customer foundation as it grows beyond its own postcode. It is an essential part of the culture and tone of the craft community.

People buy from people. It is said many times, but in our experience it holds truer than ever in the craft brewing world. At Simply Hops we are making sure that across the UK, Europe and Scandinavia, we have people on the ground working with local heroes to help get the best understanding of customers’ needs. We’ve recently started working with Get Er Brewed in Ireland for exactly this reason. In Ireland more than anywhere, craft brewers are struggling with the ability to build a strong local base. Looking at the Irish Craft market actually gives us a really good insight as to why localisation is so important.

Reliable numbers are never easy to get hold of in these things. In the US, craft beer is often said to make up around 15 – 16% of the market. In the UK it’s been estimated at around 5% but still growing. In the rest of Europe, it can vary from country to country, but the overall picture is towards growth and the taking of a larger share of the market. In the whole of Ireland however, estimates are that craft beer accounts for around 3% of the total market and growth is slow. Nonetheless, when you speak to the people involved in the independent craft brewing industry in Ireland, you still get all of the passion and dedication that you get elsewhere. They see themselves as part of a bigger community and work in the same collaborative way that is pretty much expected among craft brewers. Their beer is just as thoughtfully crafted and offers the same quality and excitement to their customers. So why is the market not responding in the same way as many other places?

geterbrewed

Jonathan and Deborah Mitchell run Get Er Brewed, based in Randalstown in the North of Ireland. They have grown from supplying home-brew and wine kits initially, to now being a major distributor to the craft breweries in Ireland. As well as Simply Hops they work with Crisp Malt and Lallemand Yeasts delivering to craft brewers across Ireland. They have been concentrating recently on making sure that they are able to deliver the best quality ingredients to the customers they deal with. But they are both ambitious and the lack of growth in the market is seen as equally unnecessary and frustrating. Jonathan says “I love Irish craft brewing. The brewers I meet on a daily basis are really killing it when it comes to passion, quality and innovation. There are some things we need to catch-up on here in Ireland though, that will see the craft beer market bloom. When I go to the mainland UK and throughout Europe, I see breweries bringing in locals to their taprooms and bars. The locals love having something that is new, exciting and most importantly “theirs,” right on their doorstep. They are able to interact with the brewers and staff, and in a way that they never can with large scale breweries. It creates both passion and loyalty in the consumer, making them the perfect ambassador for the breweries as they spread the craft word to their friends. It also gives the brewery a financial boost as they are able to shift some of their volume through a short supply chain and protect their margin.” Deborah adds, “It’s all about real interactions no matter who your customer is. We have built our business on face to face communication. We have become our own brand that naturally incorporates all of the values we uphold in our business. The same holds true for the breweries.” Jonathan continues, “Licensing makes running something like a tap-room or pop-up event very time consuming or expensive. The costs of the licenses in Ireland can be eye watering, which makes setting up a tap room a non-starter. Even for pop up events, each time you have to apply to the courts to transfer licenses from already licenced premises. It makes doing these kinds of things difficult and certainly means that anything spontaneous is out of the question. The result is that the brewers can lose a very powerful marketing tool. With so much passion an energy in Irish craft brewing you can almost feel the market straining against its restraints. It’s ready to go!”

Heaney Brewery

Mal McKay is energetic and smiles easily. It gives away his love of what he does. He also sees his local market as key to his future success. He has just finished building his new brewery on his family’s farm (former home of the famous poet Seamus Heaney) and is about to begin brewing his craft beers sold under the Heaney brand. As soon as he starts speaking to us, it’s clear that he plans to overcome any obstacles in his way. His opening sentence is possibly tongue in cheek, but you get the sense he means it. “Anybody that hasn’t heard of us yet soon will. This has all come about from a love of beer, and me and friends homebrewing to make clones of the beers we love. It just went a bit too far one night when I said to my wife I wanted to put a brewery in at the farm. “Wise up” she said, which I did for a while. Then I went a bit mental and decided to do it anyway. To begin with we’re going to focus on some good everyday, everyman beers. I think a good brewery needs to be able to offer a good core range. I have good some great ideas for some big recipes down the line though. The biggest threat to me here is getting the local consumer to understand that they should be buying proper beer. We should be supporting local brewers whenever possible and that means drinkers, the publicans, the staff in the pubs, the hotels, the restaurants and the independent off-sales. They keep saying there’s no demand for the craft beer. But how can there be a demand for it in your pub if you don’t have it in your pub. I guarantee if you put it in your pub, people will buy it.”

O'Brother Brewery

O Brother Brewing in Kilcoole In the South of Ireland, is busy. The radio is loud, the keg filler is being operated at full-tilt and space is very much at a premium. It’s a similar scene that you get from many craft breweries. Fast paced, hard work designed to turn out premium beer. Barry O’Neill, one of the founding brothers (there are three) nonetheless finds time to speak to us about his view of the future. “We set up in the back-end of 2014. Just myself and my two Bro’s. We used to work part time in our Uncle’ Off-licence. We got a reputation for turning up to parties with weird and exotic beers from all over the place and it started a love of beer. We became passionate home brewers then outgrew our dad’s garage so made the leap from very diverse careers to brewers. We spent about 3 years getting the brewery together before we eventually got going here in Kilcoole. We wanted to brew what we feel is lacking in the Irish market, which is big hoppy beers in the American style. We wanted to put Irish beers on the map. In 2011 when we first started looking at this there were very few breweries that were not playing it safe. Now though, there are loads of Irish brewers doing really great things. With regards to the future we are looking at the growth of the market, or rather the lack of it. I think it’s going to be hard yards to keep making in-roads in the market now. I feel this especially when we hear our consumers saying “I got the new craft beer from brewery X” and I know that that particular brewery brews our entire annual production 8 times every day. We have to educate the consumer about the difference between a brewery like this where we have 4 people grinding it out every day because they love what they do. Compared to a brewery that spends more on one advertising campaign than we do in a year. It makes it hard for us to get in to the bars and pubs and to get taps for the people to try out beer. If we can get more locals involved with us, it helps us get that message out”

Rye River Brewery

Finally, we spoke to Bill Laukitis, Head Brewer at Rye River in Kildare just outside of Dublin. Rye River could not be described as a small brewery by any means, with an output that far exceeds that of many of the other breweries we spoke to. They are just opening a new taproom and have excellent distribution through a number of sales channels across different brands. You would expect then that Bill’s view point might be slightly different. But he is clearly an independent brewer who has the love of craft within him. He speaks proudly of “his” Irish brewhouse and the beer they make. “This is the first brewhouse manufactured in Ireland for over 100 years. We wanted to bring this type of engineering back to Ireland so we linked up with a local engineering company and the kit is working pretty well. We’re on course to brew 28 times on the 25HL system this week. We’re pretty proud of the beers we make here. 25 core beers and 30 unique special recipe beers last year. It keeps us very busy.” At this point Bill does something that many craft brewers will do when you ask them to talk openly about beer and begins to talk in-depth about the technical aspects of the water he uses (among other things). It’s great to watch a man so full of love for what he does. We suspect that at this point, Bill would love nothing better than to be teaching the world to brew craft. We do eventually get him back on track though. “Craft brewing is a community and back where I grew up in the states it’s a lot easier for a brewery to open up its doors and let everybody in. Somewhere to share their beers and get to know each other. I think making it easier for breweries to do that would help a lot in the future. It would also help with tourism. A lot of people visit Ireland to try beer. There is a famous beer or two that people come for, but it would be great if it was just as easy for them to visit the great craft breweries in the country.”

It’s quite clear then, that all of the ingredients for growth of the craft market are there. The passion and the skill are poised waiting. Irish brewers are doing all they can but what the Irish market shows us is that connection to your local market is key. It is that interaction combined with the brewing and the beer that grows the market and at Simply Hops we are hoping to see all of the brewers across Europe build ever stronger support bases. Legislation and licensing changes are just part of this. Our support as a supplier is also important and we plan to do all we can to help.

The Craft Beer Scene in Northern Ireland – Support your local brewery!!

Suppressed…..

In a word, the craft beer movement seeing huge growth in other parts of the world is being suppressed in the North of Ireland by the Macro beer brands, the craft beer market is being prohibited from growing because of anti competitive tactics which leads to lack of support from the on trade market.

Combine the anti competitive tactics with the current out of date licensing laws our craft breweries really need support from the public to grow and survive and our politicians need to start lobbying for change of the licensing laws to help the small craft producers sell direct.

The main problem is anti competitive practices from the big drinks distribution guys, our own brewery was hit with such tactics recently. We brewed a beer specifically for a large hotel and they stopped buying from us so we sought clarification on what was happening, they advised us that they had been given 350k over a ten year period not to allow other breweries in that they didn’t represent. This is the first time we experienced this with a bottle contract, we had never seen that type of activity before, usually you can expect it to be just in relation to draft beer lines.

In simple terms Macro beer brands can buy the rights (not lawfully btw) to have just their beer pouring in bars, restaurants and hotels, some craft brewers simply wouldn’t have the ability to compete with such deals so their growth is suppressed.

Another major problem is licensing laws, now NI is isolated with out of date legislation, the South of Ireland recently changed their laws with a successful Craft Drinks Bill and the UK breweries can sell direct, they can open tap rooms they can generate a revenue from direct drinks sales but NI can’t without approaching a bar to get the use of their occasion licence and making an application to the court.

The lack of a sitting assembly at Stormont means any work that had previously been achieved with craft producers and MLA’s working on a change in law will have to start again IF they ever get back to actually legislating. What is shocking is that political parties in NI don’t currently even acknowledge correspondence in relation to this.

Another issue is that NI craft brewers need volume sales to survive, the margins in Craft Beer are small and with the suppressed local craft beer market the consumption rate is low so they need to look at supermarkets or exports, now we have the impeding circus show that is Brexit looming without any guidance to how the local craft brewing business community is being affected plus the catch with supermarket sales means most independent off sales will abandon them as they say they won’t stock breweries that are in supermarkets yet they still stock macro beer that is in the supermarket, that itself doesn’t seem fair really, again a different rule for macro beer.

Export is what is helping NI breweries grow , the consumption rate of craft beer in Northern Ireland isn’t large enough to support the amount of brewers. There is few breweries in NI that work fulltime brewing without some form of supplementary income for eg our main business is selling ingredients to brewers but we do co own a local brewery. Those that are working full time are really making the effort to push their brand as its the most difficult place to open and operate a brewery. We have some incredibly talented brewers in Ireland and Irish craft beer is respected on the world stage. Export markets are competitive , the margins are low but if you can achieve some decent volume then it can create revenue to allow the brewery to grow that growth leads to larger scale which in turn brings efficiencies and savings.

Direct sales from the brewery is what is really needed, taprooms across England for eg are selling their beer on draft direct for say £4 per pint, 95% of what they are brewing is being sold onsite, this is allowing them a consistent and sustainable revenue stream. I have visited some of these tap rooms and they have become the hub of the community in some small country villages.

So why don’t more NI brewers open tap rooms?

Some do and make use of occasion licences in their breweries and I love what they are doing here…. Checkout Boundary, Lacada and now Knockout doing this. Location is key too, if your brewery is based in the countryside for eg that might not be practical. So if we look at premises in major towns and cities they have prohibitive rent and rates and if you want to buy a licensed premises they are crazy expensive. We looked recently at a licence that became available in Randalstown and the asking price was 200k, with the current licensing laws no new licences can be issued so if you own a licence its worth money.

Some of our NI brewers are making incredible craft beer yet local support isn’t on their side. I recently went to a well known Belfast Bar with several other brewers, we were offered samples and asked if we would like to try something on their board (this part i thought was a good thing btw) but….. When we looked at the board I said I would like to try something local. This then kicked off a talk from the bartender about how he couldn’t get any kegs from local breweries. This really got my attention so i started asking some probing questions turns out he was talking out his arse. I started asking basic simple questions like which local breweries did you approach? I was shocked and equally pissed off at the response, the bartender ran down several respected local breweries one by one. Largely inaccurate info I may add, yes our brewery was mentioned and apparently I don’t need beer sales as my income comes from meat sales from our beer fed beef project – really wtf!! our business partner in the brewery Nigel was there with us and runs the farmshop with his brother and he will confirm that isn’t a main revenue stream, it takes it all to get a little return. Good brewers who I rate were slagged off one by one, I challenged this with some effort and said we were all brewers and what your saying is wrong and if thats the message you are portraying to customers then you are damaging the local beer scene. Guess what we chipped away at all the bullshit and it boiled down to distribution companies, who they can and can’t buy from, frustrating to be honest………

This is written to help create awareness of what challenges local brewers have here, yes we co-own a brewery ourselves but our main business is supplying brewing ingredients, we want all local breweries to be supported, we are passionate about this industry and as a small family business we have built relationships with the brewers we supply we know how hard they work, we know they can make awesome beer we just want you to see how much they need a little help. If we could get the licence laws changed and more taprooms opened these are the places i’d like to spend my sparetime, please challenge your local bars and off sales to make an effort to support your local brewery, or as many local breweries as possible, this will greatly help the craft beer movement.

Does your local MLA know we need these laws changed, the more constituents asking the more chance for change, just saying, we genuinely appreciate your help with supporting local brewers.

 

 

 

 

Rascals Brewing Company attending Craft Beer Rising with Geterbrewed

We have teamed up with Crisp Malt to bring a flavour of the Irish Craft Beer Scene to London for the 2019 Craft Beer Rising, honestly get tickets this is an awesome festival

So we have 6 key customers attending and we will be pouring their beers all weekend including some special collaborations between the Irish brewers

Rascals Brewing Company

Related image

Self confessed off centre brewers, always adding the Rascals twist. A kick ass core range, evolving specials, barrel aged beers, its been an adventure sampling their beers

Founded in 2014 by Emma Devlin & Cathal Donoghue, brewing an exciting range of modern Irish Craft Beer.

The new Rascals HQ is a must see, based in Inchicore, Dublin City, the new brewhouse now has an In House Tap Room and Pizzeria.

Emma & Cathal have been very driven and the new investment see them become a major player in the Irish Craft Beer Scene. Again with a lot of our brewery customers, they have an award winning home brewing background.

Great work ethic and a talented team sees their vision of a true city brewery unfold.

These guys have a bright future, join us at CBR and sample some of their awesome beers with us.

https://www.craftbeerrising.co.uk/

O’Brother Brewery Attending Craft Beer Rising with Geterbrewed

We have teamed up with Crisp Malt to bring a flavour of the Irish Craft Beer Scene to London for the 2019 Craft Beer Rising, honestly get tickets this is an awesome festival

So we have 6 key customers attending and we will be pouring their beers all weekend including some special collaborations between the Irish brewers

O’Brother Brewery

O'BROTHER BREWERY

3 Brothers, 1 Brewery, 0 Shortcuts. I still have the t-shirt the guys gave me at The Killarney Beer Festival with that on it.

The Wicklow based brothers brew fresh, exciting beers using the best quality ingredients. We really appreciate their faith in us to supply such ingredients.

Brothers that rarely agreed on anything set aside their differences in 2014 to launch their own brewery adventure.

Brian, Padhraig & Barry O’Neill with backgrounds in Accounting, Surveying & Landscaping have excelled from a passion for great beer at a home brewing level to now producing top quality commerical Irish Craft Beer.

Another Irish brewery collecting many awards along the way.

Recent rebranding “Off the Wall Series” and continued dedication from the brothers has seen impressive DIPAs & DDH Pales catch attention and positive reviews.

Join us at CBR to sample some beers from the O’Brother Crew.

Pick up your tickets here: https://www.craftbeerrising.co.uk

Hilden Brewery Attending Craft Beer Rising with Geterbrewed

We have teamed up with Crisp Malt to bring a flavour of the Irish Craft Beer Scene to London for the 2019 Craft Beer Rising, honestly get tickets this is an awesome festival

So we have 6 key customers attending and we will be pouring their beers all weekend including some special collaborations between the Irish brewers

Hilden brewery

hilden logo

Irelands oldest independent Brewery and a good friend of Geterbrewed Owen Scullion now runs the brewery having taken over from his father Seamus. They are a family run business with two awesome restaurants, one at the brewery and the other in Botanic Avenue in Belfast, called Mollys Yard.

Their annual festival is a date to get in your diary now too

Hilden Beer Festival 2019

The Hilden Brewery and Taproom are in a converted stables that was historically beside an old Linen Factory. Owen is a qualified brewer brewing some exceptionally well balanced craft beers.

Recent rebranding and large investment in the brewhouse and packaging line now sees the brewery in a position to start experimenting and creating new special releases. We had the privilege of brewing on their original kit recently, we brewed a Brut IPA which is currently ageing in virgin oak barrels.

hilden brewery collaboration with hillstown

Hilden are one of a few local breweries still producing and serving cask ales, modernising their offering currently is exciting to see unfold.

Hilden brewed craft beer before it was even trend if anything they have helped pioneer the craft beer movement in Ireland. A key pillar in the local craft beer scene and the family run restaurants are definitiely a must visit when in Lisburn or Belfast. Lesley has joined the brewery team and is keen to drive forward new beer styles so definitely one to watch

Join us at Craft Beer Rising and sample some of their beers:

https://www.craftbeerrising.co.uk/

Rye River Brewery attending Craft Beer Rising with Geterbrewed

We have teamed up with Crisp Malt to bring a flavour of the Irish Craft Beer Scene to London for the 2019 Craft Beer Rising, honestly get tickets this is an awesome festival…

So we have 6 key customers attending and we will be pouring their beers all weekend including some special collaborations between the Irish brewers

Rye River Brewery

Rye River have been producing some amazing beers in the Irish Beer Scene for coming up on five years, we have recently been getting to know the team on a more personal level over the last year.

The Rye River team work hard, to give you an idea they produce a staggering volume of craft beer every year. 2018 seen them craft well see the pic from their twitter post below….

Decorating their beers with a huge array of awards and steering the business upwards is a real credit to all involved.

Geterbrewed proudly work with Rye River on their ingredients and we are building a longterm relationship with them, we both recognise Crisp Malt as the finest malt and we recently had the pleasure of collaborating with them focusing on the Chevallier Heritage Malt  barrel aged in virgin oak which will see two beers launched at Craft Beer Rising…

  1. Delusional Stout
  2. Caber Toss Wee Heavy

Rye River brew seasonal specials throughout the year, they have the McGargles brand and they contract brew some of the most impressive supermarket beers you will ever taste, seek out The Crafty Range (LIDL) Solas (TESCO) & Grafters (DUNNES)

Bill Laukitis their head brewer has genuinely worked his way up from entry level to leading the team. A talented and creative brewer who has technical ability working in harmony with creative flare.

Tom Cronin their MD has taken the Rye River beers into 26 countries an enviable acheivement . Focused and driven he continues to promote Irish Craft Beer on a global scale.

Join us at Craft Beer Rising and we will let the liquid do the talking, get tickets here: 

Indie Beer Week Ireland – Geterbrewed Official Sponsor

We are one of the Main Official Sponsors of Indie Beer Week in Ireland

It’s all about getting out and celebrating your local Irish Independent brewery, your local brewery will have events on running all weekend, get out and get amongst it!!

http://indiebeerweek.ie/

We are very passionate about the Irish Craft Beer Scene and genuinely want to see it grow into a huge success. This business is hard and the brewery owners and their staff really do have a difficult time promoting Craft Beer, there is alot standing in the way of growth of the small independent breweries as the Macro brands try to stop their growth, we ask that you support your local brewery and help grow the movement.

Geterbrewed supply brewing ingredients to Irish breweries and proudly represent Crisp Malt & Lallemand Yeast throughout Ireland as their exclusive distributors, they have contributed to the sponsorship of this awesome event too

Irish Brewing Seminar

Irish Brewing Seminar

This coming Thursday (19th), at the beautiful new Porterhouse Brewery, an event just for the brewers and brewery owners we love what we do and have put together a day to showcase the brands that we represent as exclusive distributors throughout Ireland

10am – Introduction from Geterbrewed

1015-1100 Base & Speciality malts and the flavour impact by Colin Johnston

1100-1145 Brewdeck Tour of Porterhouse (NEIPA being brewed on the day)

1145-1230 Yeast Flavour & the Evolution of beer Styles by Robert Percival

1230-1330 Lunch provided by Burger Republic

1330-1415 Wild & Sour Beer Science or Art? by Robert Percival

1415-1445 Process tips & tricks in Mashing & Boiling by Carl Heron

1445-1530 The Old & The New Getting the Best from your finings by Sarah Young

1530-1600 Break for beers

1600-1615 Arc Net Block Chain Technology & Labelling

1615-1630 Exporting Irish Beer by Liam Brogan

1630-1700 Social Time

The Best In The Industry will be Attending;
Crisp Malt
Lallemand Yeast
Ab Vickers

Belfast to Beirut…..Our beautiful Experience in Lebanon

You need to visit this region, It impressed us…..

Backroom Beirut

Genuinely a heart warming experience, we collectively as a group of Irish Brewers & Distillers travelled to Beirut for a St Patricks celebration, hosted with the finest hospitality from the Fattal Group who now distribute our range of Craftbeer and Spirits.

A diverse range of brewers and distillers from across the Island brought together by Liam and Shane from ‘Ireland Craft Beers’. I have to say I’m super proud of what they have acheived, I also want to make a special mention of thanks to them and especially Paul Choueiry also who co ordinated the whole visit perfectly.

We met distributors, buyers, customers, the media and the British Ambassador Hugo Shorter even popped by to try our beers and spirits. We bonded as a group throughout the weekend and we’re happy to say we made many new friends and the “Craic was mighty!”

Don’t be afraid to visit this beautiful location, many told us we were mad to be travelling to Beirut. We did have a little nervous energy but it really wasn’t necessary

There is simply too many enjoyable moments to describe in a blog entry but i’ll happily say we all had a ball!

So who attended from Ireland? Check them out at their trade event stands below

  • Blackwater Distillery
  • Bertha’s Revenue Gin
  • Echlinville Distillery
  • Whiskeygate
  • Blacks of Kinsale
  • Eight Degrees Brewery
  • Hillstown Brewery

Blackwater distillery

Berthas Revenge Gin

Echlinville distillery

Whiskeygate

Blacks of kinsale

Eight degrees brewery

Hillstown Brewery

The Agenda?

To sell Irish Craft Beer & Spirits in Lebanon….well it’s already established and we enjoyed seeing its growth in a very short period of months.

Thursday night at the “Backroom Beirut”….. A beautiful bar that has been set up to showcase the finest wines, beers and spirits on offer. Every tap on the bar was pouring Irish Craft Beer and the selection of fine wines & spirits was amazing. The quality of the build is flawless.

The staff make the difference in the Backroom Beirut , they were passionate about quality, they know how to suggest recommendations and they know how to present the beverages plus they know the Brands story. All the beers are cold stored, every bottle of beer or key keg is maintained at optimum temperature. The Gins were served with knowledge and style also

On the Thursday night we were treated to some beautiful food and amazing beers, spirits and champagne. It’s fair to say we received the ‘Red Carpet Treatment’ It was very evident that the staff were pleased we had visited and I found it rewarding to hear them say how many of the locals now love Irish Beer & Spirits.

Fattal warehouse

Friday was an experience, we went to the warehouse at Fattal that has been storing our beers and spirits, securely into the lift we descent into the basement to be greeted with, well lets face it ‘Warehouse Envy’ Clean tidy and very well laid out, again climate controlled storage for the beers which shows these guys really care about the quality.

Irish Brewers & Distillers Export

We then received a special invite to the “Heritage Room” at Fattal Headquarters, Mr Hubert Fattal the Chairman of the company casually greeted us with a smile and a gentle nature, he explained the history of his family business, in it’s fourth generation now he described it as a mix between Art & Business. He took us on a story of Resilience and how the company has overcome many obstacles including wars.

Fattal are the gateway for eight lines of distribution across the Middle East & North Africa and we are very privileged to have been selected by them as their choice of Irish Craft Beers & Spirits.

Fattal supply no matter the circumstances and the brand appears to have a unique blend of “Western Sophistication, Oriental Charm & Middle Eastern Chaos” They successfully operate in volatile, uncertain and complicated areas, always improvising and adapting.

Fattal are a company that are genuinely invested in their suppliers, they build lasting relationships and uphold the best business ethics and we are very proud to have been selected to work with them on their range of Irish Craft Beer. Initial trials in the market place have now secured us a space on their catalogue.

On the Friday evening we were personally proud to hear that our beers had been really well received and we were excited that the first shipment had nearly all sold out and we had customers awaiting the latest shipment arriving in a few weeks. We did some interviews with the media and then partied with the public, and I mean we partied, some more than  others but i’ll let them tell you about that…..

The Traditional Irish Band headed up by Noel had been flown in from Longford and they played some beautiful songs and Liam even sang a few songs, and yes the lad can sing

Backroom Beirut St Patricks Day

A BBQ out the front and beer flowing inside and out the building led for a very enjoyable evening many locals were keen to chat about beer and learn about Irish Craft Beer and Spirits.

Backroom Beirut

To end the night we sung and stubbled our way home through the streets of Beirut, we felt safe and well received and it helped break down our misheld perceptions of Beirut prior to the visit.

On Saturday morning we met with a friend of Pauls’ – Sami, he is a keen home brewer who wants to open his own Brewpub. This excited me as he was very passionate and simply wanted some constructive feedback to help him improve. He currently works in the legal profession but wants to jump into the brewing industry, the tasting showed me that he had great potential, he was somewhat restricted to a small variety of ingredients and has to work with a limited selection.

A few tweaks on his water treatment and I think he’s there, I’d be super excited to see a Brewiks Microbrewery Brewpub in Beirut, I’ve already made contact with Brewiks to do a special deal for them.

Craft Beer in my opinion creates a community, not just with the beer drinkers but with the brewers, we are always willing to help build that community because if the smaller guys work together then then there is strength in numbers.

Beer tasting for breakfast was followed by a visit to the “Golden Star” a real premium feeling shopping centre which we’d love to be in regularly if we lived in the area. Downstairs was a mix of food and groceries and upstairs had a selection of the finest beer, wine and spirits available. I even spotted a 1.5 litre bottle of Louis XIII, one of the rarest cognacs in the world. The owner of the shop Sami is a huge supporter of our Craft Beer & Spirits.

A short journey followed to Byblos and we visited Eddesands , again the owners have been huge supports of our Craft Beers and Spirits and the band joined us again for an evening of great laughs. This area is very beautiful and I really soaked up the atmosphere, on the coast of the Mediterrean enjoying the beautiful cobbled streets , talking over coffee, enjoying some amazing lebanese food, it was bliss.

Byblos Irish Craft beer

Now for a few special mentions for the entertainment in the later part of the evening, Anthony from Berthas Revenge Gin is a real treat to party with, such an entertainer when he hit the stage, again more beautiful music from Noel and his band and a delicate solo performance from Louise!

Berthas Revenge Gin

Whiskeygate louise

We felt blessed to have been part of this experience and are thankful especially to Paul Choueiry for falling in love with our products and our wee country!