Beerista: Brewing up a storm in a world of its own
The Mescan brewery is set deep in the foothills of Croagh Patrick in Co Mayo
Brewers Cillian Ó Móráin and Bart Adons of Mescan in Co Mayo
“We’re a bit like the Galapagos islands of brewing,” says Cillian Ó Móráin, standing in what was once a sheep shed in the foothills of Croagh Patrick.
The Mescan brewery is deep in the grey-green Mayo countryside, about 20 minutes outside Westport and another 15 minutes up a narrow, winding road, depending on how many times you get lost. It’s about as far from the world of mainstream beer as you can get.
“Brewing is a bit like making porridge,” says Cillian, who set up Mescan in 2014 with his Flemish friend Bart Adons, making their unique Irish-Belgian style ales.
“We do everything very slowly,” explains Cillian, as we stand looking into a massive stainless steel tank of swirling, steaming liquid. The Mescan Tripel and Extra beers are left to mature for at least six months – way longer than most beers – and they use the traditional Belgian method of a stepped mash for complexity of taste.
“Everything is recycled here. We feed grain to the cattle, compost the hops, and the water comes out of the ground over there,” he says, pointing into the hilly distance.
And what about the delivery trucks? “We get the forklift up to the top of our lane and it’s usually okay from there.”
Most of their beers, interestingly, are sold within 20km of the brewery. And you’ll find plenty of them in the local pubs and hotels in Westport. “We brew the beers we like,” says Cillian.
Their latest is called Westport Kriek, a Belgian ale made with sour cherries.
Cillian, who also works as a vet, hands me a few bottles before heading out to tend to some cattle. And we drive off, back down towards Clew Bay, the fog just beginning to lift from the top of Croagh Patrick.