Taproom with a view: Wicklow Wolf enters expansion mode
Beerista: A visit to the brewery’s new site in Newtownmountkennedy
John Allen of Wicklow Wolf: “I like the roll of the dice of the barrel.”
As the quality of Irish beer hits an all-time high, competition is starting to intensify. Some breweries are calling it quits, but others are entering expansion mode. Wicklow Wolf, which was founded in 2014, and has already built a high profile, is now in the process of constructing a 35-hectolitre brewhouse and taproom with views of the surrounding countryside in Newtownmountkennedy.
A new brewer with plenty of interesting experience has also joined the team. John Allen, from Roscommon, spent 12 years abroad, working first with Fuller’s, in London, and then Little Creatures, in Perth, situated in the harbour in Fremantle. “You’d look out the window and see dolphins in the bay,” Allen says. “Working in a brewery in 45-degree heat is hard work, though.”
Next stop was Brewdog, where Allen worked for six years. “It’s very fast-paced, very intense there . . . It’s the kind of place where there’s no fear of trying things and it taught me a bit of ‘let’s just go for it’.”
He also learned a lot about barrel-ageing beers at Brewdog, he says, so we can expect to see a bit more of that in Wicklow Wolf. “I like the roll of the dice of the barrel. You can make a great beer and put it in a barrel and have no idea what’s going to come out. There’s just so much versatility.”
He’s also a big fan of dark beers, specifically black IPAs – so it’s no surprise that their latest, 50 Shades of Bray, is a New England black IPA “with a nice fresh hop punch to it”.
Using hops from the Wicklow Wolf hop farm is something Allen is really looking forward to in his new role. “I’ve never worked in a brewery that has its own hop farm,” Allen says, “so I’m really excited about that and being able to make beer that’s uniquely Irish.”