West Kerry Brewery making the most of lockdown

Brewery has created new small-batch beers: a red ale aged in madeira cask and festive IPA aged in Dingle Whiskey bourbon barrels

Adrienne Heslin (left) has been running the West Kerry Brewery  since 2008. Photograph: Daniel Flynn

Adrienne Heslin (left) has been running the West Kerry Brewery since 2008. Photograph: Daniel Flynn

 

“Thanks for thinking of us. Sometimes I forget about things like promoting; we just like making beer here.” Adrienne Heslin has been running the West Kerry Brewery, or Beoir Chorca Dhuibhne, alongside the Tig Bhric pub and accommodation in Riasc, close to Ballyferriter in west Kerry, since 2008. The pub will reopen on July 20th.

“We are working away. The only thing missing has been 80 per cent of our business. Sales to off-licences has trebled, but that doesn’t make up for the pub and restaurants. The reality is we make an artisan product that sells through restaurants, so the off-trade has never made up for that. Only 20 per cent of our sales were through the brewery.

“We used lockdown to play. We made some small-batch beers, to be released very soon. There is a red ale aged in madeira cask, a festive IPA dry-hopped Irish ale aged in Dingle Whiskey bourbon barrels.

“I am most grateful that a part of my business was deemed essential, and grateful to the Government for the help in paying my brewer Daniel and other employees. All our beers are ales. They are top fermented in open-top fermenters using the same yeast, an old English strain, for every beer that we make. We have three seasonal beers, a red ale for spring, a golden ale for summer and a porter for autumn/winter.”

Chorca Dhuibhne makes beers that reflect its origin. It brews some beers using use a blend of botanicals from Heslin’s garden or from the locality. “We get the elderflowers from a tree in my garden; the rosehips are from my mother’s,” she says. 

The brewer is Daniel O’Connor. “He came to work here six years ago as an intern in the brewery, with no brewing experience but an avid interest in beer.”

Of the (very good) range of beers I tasted, the rich refreshing hoppy Béal Bán Golden Ale was my summer favourite. See westkerrybrewery.ie for the full range and stockists. 

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