Beerista: 10 years of Galway Hooker

A lot has changed in the world of craft beer since this brewery started up a decade ago

the pioneering Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale is now seen as a kind of ‘gateway beer’ – not too bitter, not too strong

the pioneering Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale is now seen as a kind of ‘gateway beer’ – not too bitter, not too strong

 

About seven or so years ago, I stood in a crowed bar trying to get a pint. “What?” The barman kept asking and I kept repeating my order, until he started to snigger and then look at me strangely. “Hooker?”

I’d just come back from a trip to the west, where I’d tried my first pint of Galway Hooker and this new beer wasn’t widely available in Dublin yet – or so I discovered that evening.

Now, of course, you can get it in plenty of pubs around the country (200 to be precise) and Galway Hooker, though it was one of the first Irish craft breweries to emerge, is just one of the many alternatives to industrial beers on offer these days.

“We coined the phrase Irish Pale Ale,” says Aidan Murphy, who co-founded Galway Hooker with his cousin Ronan Brennan in 2006. The brewery is 10 years old this month.

“People didn’t really know how to react when they tried it,” says Aidan, describing the early days, and how they slowly but surely grew the business, travelling around the pubs in Galway getting people to sample what was regarded then as a very different beer.

Interestingly, the pioneering Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale is now seen as a kind of “gateway beer” – not too bitter, not too strong in alcohol at 4.3 per cent. It’s a solid and tasty starter pale ale, a testament, you could say, to how the craft beer movement has changed tastes and attitudes in Ireland.

The Irish Pale Ale makes up about 90 per cent of Galway Hooker sales, though they have three others in their core range and they’re celebrating their 10th anniversary with a big and fruity special edition 8.6 per cent double IPA .

So much has changed since they first started. “There’s been a big shift in terms of the extremes of beers being made – and there’s so much more knowledge and openness to craft now,” says Aidan.

“And back 10 years ago, no one would ever ask what hops we used in the beer.”

@ITbeerista
beerista@irishtimes.com

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