Irish craft beer market on course for sales of more than €15m

Booming sector has almost tripled in size since 2011 as customers seek more choice

Craft beer is on the rise as festival celebrates the best in brewing. Video: Ronan McGreevy


The Irish craft beer industry is on course for sales of more than €15 million in 2014 with sales increasing by 50 per cent this year alone.

A report, which will be published next week, will reveal that sales have increased by 180 per cent since 2011, albeit from a low base.

The craft beer industry now constitutes approximately 1.5 per cent of the entire beer market, still way behind countries such as the US or the UK. By the end of the year there will be more than 50 craft beer brewers in the whole of Ireland.

In the US, craft beer sales now account for 7.8 per cent volume of the total market last year and 14.3 per cent by dollar sales.

The Irish craft beer industry believes it can reach a similar level of market share in Ireland which would see a five-fold increase in sales.

Speaking at the launch of the Irish Craft Beer Festival in the RDS last night, festival organiser Seamus O’Hara of the Carlow Brewing Company said the recession had actually helped sales of craft beers.

“The recession helped us because it disrupted the beer business and the bar business. People started thinking more local with local jobs and local produce,” he said.

“Now that it is up to 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent of the market, higher in Dublin, it now has a bit of a platform. As the economy picks up again, it will continue the momentum in the sector.”

Mr O’Hara said publicans and off-licence owners were now coming round to the realisation that customers wanted more choice in their beers.

“As it becomes a more competitive market for restaurants and hotels, they are open to stocking more products. In a general way it has really opened up in the last few years.”

Some 45 breweries are represented at the festival. The latest addition to the growing number of Irish breweries is the Black Donkey Brewery in Ballinlough, Co Roscommon, set up by husband and wife team Richard Siberry and Michaela Dillon who lived in the United States for 20 years.

Ms Dillon said they were prompted by the lack of choice in Irish pubs to set up their own brewery recently. Their beer is in pubs in Dublin, Galway and Roscommon. They are introducing a bottling line in November.

“We were lucky enough to experience the changes in New York. Watching the explosion of the craft industry in Ireland is so exciting,” she said.

Metalman brewery in Waterford, which was set up in 2011, have announced that they are going to become the first Irish craft brewer to sell their product in tins from the start of next year.