In Ireland, the craft beer industry has witnessed significant growth over the past 12 months. Despite this time of national recession, the craft beer industry is thriving with sales growing by a whopping 42% in 2012 and predictions of 35% growth this year.
This upward trend witnessed here in Ireland is mirrored across international markets in face of on overall decline in alcohol sales. Craft brewers only account for 1% of beer and cider sales in Ireland but with producers having doubled their market share in just three years they are confident of increasing market share to 5% by 2016.
The craft beer and cider industry is growing every day and the number of craft beer brewers has doubled in the last ten years with just over half of the current 37 craft beer and cider breweries been set up since 2009. Matching this growth is an increase in the number of people who want to experience something new and interesting when having a drink, be that out in a pub or from the comfort of their own home. Consumers are taking their time over their drinks, considering things like ingredients, and brewing processes.
They are slowly becoming craft brew connoisseurs sampling as many different breweries as they can, seeking out the unusual and different when it comes to their tipple. They are moving away from the ‘pint of the usual’ mantra towards a more discerning palette. This is great for brewers as according to Seamus O’Hara, the co-Founder of the Irish Craft Beer Festival, “the complexities of flavours and the intricacy of the brewing process make it possible to create the myriad of different products – all unique and interesting in their own right” and this is what keeps the consumers coming back for more.
Since its inception four years ago the Irish Craft Beer Festival has seen a 300% increase in both brewers and attendees, with over 11,000 people coming through the festival doors last year. This rise in craft brew consumption is seeing demand starting to outstrip supply of certain craft brews. This issue of supply looks like it may continue as due to economic and tax reasons craft breweries produce less than 20,000 hectolitres per annum. Nevertheless, this limited production means that brewers can spend more time crafting beverages that they are passionate about. Craft brewers work with many regional organic farmers and enterprises, sourcing local ingredients and stockists for their product. It truly is a collaborative Irish industry.
The heritage and history of Ireland is also reflected in the names of breweries like 5 Lamps, Franciscan Well, Galway Hooker, as well as the moniker of their brews. Names such as Blarney Blonde, Tom Crean’s Lager and Brainblasta give a nod to our nation’s rich and varied culture. The Irish craft beer industry truly is a local enterprise, and a very creative one at that bringing something new and exciting to its growing fan base and one that looks like it will continue to grow for the foreseeable future, and that is something we should all drink to, Slainte.
From dish pig to waitress, from 5 star hotels to traditional Irish pubs Melanie has played many culinary roles in various food establishments. She has worked and eaten her way across 35 countries over five continents, documenting every mouthful via blogs, emails home, and photographs. Her wanderlust has broadened her taste buds and made her very adventurous when it comes to trying food, nothing is too weird or crazy for her to shove in her mouth. When not writing for various online publications she creates recipes inspired by her travels for her own website www.melaniemay.com