12 Acres Brewing: The four brothers crafting beer in Co Laois

Another Round: The McDonald family had been growing barley for generations, so turning it into beer seemed like a natural move

Paddy McDonald is one of four brothers involved in 12 Acres Brewing in Laois. The family had been growing barley for generations, so brewing beer seemed like a natural move. One brother is the farmer and has a contract with Minch’s in Athy. “We can take back all we need,” Paddy tells me.

“We use our own barley for the base malt for all our brewing, and the Pallet Jack India Pale Lager is 100 per cent our own malt.” They also have their own spring water, so the beers have genuine provenance.

“It’s been pretty challenging over the last year. We’ve kept going, but downsized a little due to Covid, and a lot of other changes that impacted on us. We are a small micro brewer; we’re not trying to take over the world.”

12 Acres had a big export customer base in Russia, which has finished. “We have a good catchment area around here and sell a nice bit of draught. O’Briens are a great supporter of ours and of Irish beers. We sell in Finland and also to the south of France – a Portlaoise man Thady Nolan has a couple of Irish bars called Ma Nolan’s that have always sold our beers.”

Its 12 Acres Pale Ale is the most popular in its range, followed by the India Pale Lager and the Hazy Pale. It has a nice bitterness countered by some tropical fruits and a touch of malty caramel. The India Pale Lager is perfect for summer drinking, with floral aromas, a crisp citrus palate and a bitter finish.

The beers are available at O’Briens, selected SuperValu stores and independent off-licences.