The meaning of the word “romantic” has been devaluated to the point where it’s hard to find an instance in which its use carries any substance. But if there is one thing that matches the spirit of an idealistic pursuit, it has to be the adventure of jumping off the corporate ladder to start a business along with your life partner.
Romance understood as following one’s heart and going after a challenge because the passion for it is just that strong, it’s not something you’ll find in a box of chocolate but you might encounter it in the thrill of a joint adventure.
We often see this impulse behind the story of delicious artisan products made by husband and wife teams. It is also well documented that some of our most beloved restaurants and cafés are the realisation of a couple’s project. In the drinks world, craft beer is perhaps the beverage most likely to have a duo running the show. After all, compared to wine or spirits, it requires a lower investment to get started and while it offers many challenges, it can also be great fun.
Below, six Irish breweries that are managed by husband and wife teams and that are crafting innovative and award-winning beers.
Gráinne Walsh and her husband Tim Barber started up Metalman Brewing back in 2011. She left her job at an IT multinational first and initially, contracted a brewery to get the first beers out to the market. Tim eventually joined the fun and nowadays they produce their range in their brewery in Waterford.
Pioneers in canned craft beer in Ireland, they’ve grown rapidly in recent years and in 2017, they realised their dream of opening a beer bar, the Metalman Pub in Waterford. In there, they maintain the same ethos that has defined their brand since the beginnings: drink nice things. Beer related events, frequently changing specials, coffee from local suppliers and even a board game evening are part of the line-up of details they go to fill the place with good vibes and great drinks.
BEER TO TRY
Metalman Pale Ale
A rich pale ale with a palate mixing the sharpness of citrus and the mellow notes of tropical fruits.
Hoppy and crisp, it’s a medium bodied and balanced brew.
Michaela Dillon and her husband Richard Siberry are the duo behind this multi-award-winning brewery located in Co. Roscommon. Originally from Roscommon and Drogheda respectively, the couple met in New York and for a while, the idea of making their own beer was making the rounds in their heads. The thoughts became a reality shortly after the pair decided to move back to Ireland and, in 2014, they released their first craft beers as the Black Donkey Distillery.
They differentiate themselves with very traditional and natural styles of craft beers, specialising in bottle conditioned ales. Despite nay-sayers pointing out how much of a hard sell the style was in Ireland back then, their first brew, Sheep Stealer, an Irish farmhouse ale, has earned a following and nowadays, they export to Russia, US and the UK.
BEER TO TRY
Black Donkey Sheep Stealer
This multi award-winning Irish farmhouse ale offers a great introduction to what this brewery is all about.
Medium bodied and with a malty background that merges with notes of oranges and a hint of spice and yeast.
Libby Carton and her husband Rick LeVert set up Kinnegar Brewing in Donegal, first as a very small operation in 2011 which expanded in 2013. The third move in 2017 saw them growing again into a larger brewery in Letterkenny, where they produce a year-round range of six brews and a variety of seasonal and once-off specials. Their new venue has allowed them to welcome beer lovers to (booked in advance) visits to the brewery.
They produce award-winning beers which they describe as “farmhouse beers from Donegal.” Their two very first brews, Limeburner and Devil’s Backbone, are still a core part of their range; a crisp and fresh pale ale and a richer, fuller-bodied amber ale, respectively.
BEER TO TRY
Limeburner Pale Ale
This moderatedly hoppy pale ale is one of the breweries’ must-try brews.
Balanced and refreshing, with intense flavours and a delicious mix of ripe limes, orange zest and a gentle nutty note.
Wim de Jongh and Jeanne Mahony (first two people pictured from the left) are part of the co-founding team behind Hope Beer, producing premium craft beers at Howth Junction, Dublin, since 2015. While Wim has used his expertise in the business world to focus on the management side of things, Jeanne turned to marketing, business development and public relations.
Along with friend and co-founder Des McSwiggan, they’ve managed to position their beer in over 150 outlets, including upscale restaurants (food pairing was a very important point for the brand since their start). Their range of beers is comprised of four core beers with names and branding inspired by the local folklore, and they’ve also launched a dozen limited editions.
BEER TO TRY
One of the most popular beers from their core range, it’s an IPA inspired in a 17th-century pirate.
Double dry hopped with a combination of American and Japanese hops, it’s structured and intense, great to clean the palate!
Husband and wife team Sam and Maudeline Black officially began their brewing journey in 2013, however, the passion for craft beer had been in their lives for a long time and home brewing had been a shared hobbie for many years.
Since 2015, they have also produced a small range of craft spirits including a whiskey, a gin and a spiced rum. Their core range features seven beers, but they occasionally launched small-batch releases of experimental and innovative brews for adventurous beer lovers. The Blacks Brewery & Distillery is located in Kinsale, Co. Cork.
BEER TO TRY
Blacks of Kinsale Black IPA
An unusual IPA, don’t let its black colour let you think it’s a stout! Hoppy and with a smokey character.
Its pleasant, mellow notes of espresso and toast are nicely contrasted by the bitterness of the hops.
When Emma Devlin and her husband Cathal Donoghue were living in New Zealand, they discover their passion for craft beer. When they eventually moved back to Dublin, they decided to change careers and turn pursue their dream of setting up an urban brewery and so Rascals Brewing Co. entered the beerverse in 2014.
They’ve earned praised and popularity due to a combination of a solid core range and over the top limited editions with innovative flavour combinations and techniques. Last year, they took their business to the next level as they opened their new brewery and tap room in Inchicore, a place for tasting, touring, and even enjoying pizza.
BEER TO TRY
Yankee White IPA
This fusion between an IPA and a Belgian witbier earned the brewery a gold medal at the World Beer Awards – Ireland – 2016.
Smooth, full bodied and with a moderate bitterness, its rich fruity flavours provide a great balance for the hoppy edge.
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.