Beerista: ‘About 90% of brewing beer is cleaning’
O Brother in Wicklow is the latest Irish microbrewery to add cans to their line-up of beers
Brothers Paddy, Barry and Brian O’Neill who set up O Brother brewery 3½ years ago
What’s the hardest thing about setting up a brewery? All the stuff that’s not about making beer, reckons Barry O’Neill of O Brother in Kilcoole, Co Wicklow. “About 90 per cent of brewing is cleaning,” says O’Neill, who set up the brewery 3½ years ago with his brothers, Paddy and Brian.
“It can be a bit thankless, starting your own business,” says O’Neill, who is the eldest of the three brothers. “But we’ve learnt a lot about ourselves and what we’re capable of – and as brothers that can be challenging but also rewarding.”
O Brother is the latest independent Irish brewery to add cans to their line-up. Though some drinkers still need a bit of persuading, says O’Neill: “People, particularly in Ireland, still have that association of cans with a more budget product.”
From a brewer’s perspective, cans have huge benefits because they keep the beer fresher and protected from light. “I think if you asked most brewers in Ireland they would – from a product quality point of view – love to switch to cans.” They’re also environmentally friendly, more efficient to transport, infinitely recyclable, you can bring them to festivals and they’re not a safety issue, he adds.
“We’ve done 25 beers since we’ve started,” says O’Neill, in a range of styles from porters to saisons and wheat beers. Their four core beers are in bottles, while their lovely Dreamcatcher, a session IPA, Madhatter double IPA and Rainmaker IPA are all available now in the so-called “tallboy” 440ml cans.
Also in cans is their newest beer Whippersnapper, a light and fresh dry-hopped Berliner Weisse, with a summery 4 per cent alcohol content.
“Whippersnapper is the lowest ABV beer we’ve done – but it’s quite high for the Berliner Weisse style. Though we’re not too hung up on the beer styles or the technicalities of them.”