The Republic’s craft beer industry has launched a symbol to ensure drinkers know they are supporting microbreweries.
The independent craft beer of Ireland symbol has been created by the Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland (ICBI).
The organisation represents 80 registered microbreweries in the Republic and the numbers are growing fast.
The symbol can be used in the Republic only, as different criteria for craft beers apply in Northern Ireland. An affiliate membership scheme is being designed for breweries in the North and it is hoped over time to have symbol for all Ireland.
In order to qualify for the logo, a craft beer must have been manufactured by an independently-owned brewery.
This excludes any craft beer products made by the larger breweries such as Smithwicks, Heineken or Guinness, but also by breweries such as Franciscan Well who make craft beer products but are owned by the conglomerate Molson Coors.
The beer has to be brewed on site, it cannot be contract brewed, and it has to be bottled, kegged or canned on the island of Ireland.
ICBI spokeswoman Carley Donegan said the purpose of excluding breweries that have been acquired by larger entities is to ensure the "beer drinker knows that he or she is helping the guy down the road and not some multinational".
To qualify for the logo, a beer must be made by a registered microbrewery as recognised by Revenue and the brewer has complete ownership of the brand. It must also be recognised as a small or medium-sized enterprise by Enterprise Ireland.
“What this means for the consumer is that they can easily identify a beer which comes from an independent Irish craft brewer and make an informed choice, based on the provenance of the beer,” she said.
“For the Irish craft brewers it gives a means by which they can take a stand against the misrepresentation of brands and to identify themselves as what they are: small scale breweries, brewing their own beers in their own microbreweries.”
Heineken Ireland is investigating reports that some of its products were sold as craft beer in several dozen pubs in the Republic.
Brands such as Beamish, Murphys and Fosters were sold as craft beers in a number of pubs.
In a statement Heineken Ireland said: “We apologise to our valued consumers and customers. This should not have happened. Heineken Ireland has appointed an external firm to investigate and help us understand how this occurred and to prevent it happening again.”