Irish craft beer


The Republic of Ireland is, of course, famous for the giants Guinness and Heineken, but this country is also home to roughly 75 significantly smaller breweries that are producing some really interesting craft beers.

Irish craft beer

Brewing and drinking beer have been a part of Irish culture since time immemorial, and a lot of traditional skills have been dusted off and turned into practice again with the increased interest in microbrewed craft beer – and interest that has been growing slowly and steadily since the 1980s and then picked up significant speed in the early years of the 21st century.

From an international perspective, the Irish are on the top-10 list of beer drinking per capita, so there has been plenty of opportunities for new breweries and brewpubs to find interested consumers without looking abroad or relying on tourism.

In 2014, craft beer represented 1.5% of total beer sales in Ireland. For the year 2017, the number had rosen to 2.8%.


Naturally, many microbreweries and brewpubs have come and gone in Ireland since the 1980s. Established in 1981, Hilden Brewery in Lisburn is Ireland’s oldest non-defunct microbrewery, and from the 1990s, we have survivors such as Carlow Brewing Company and Porterhouse Brewing Company (the latter now runs its own chain of pubs).

The mid-2000s is generally seen as the start of the second-wave of microbreweries in Ireland, with companies such as Trouble Brewing, Metalman Brewing, Galway Bay, Galway Hooker, County Kerry, Dungarvan, Clanconnel, and Dingle Brewery entering the scene.

After a change in tax law, coupled with increased access to EU-level funding for microbrewers, a third-wave of microbrewing swept over Ireland starting in 2013 – partly boosted by government-funded brewing classes.

Irish craft beer on tap

Historically, it has been quite difficult for small independent breweries to get their beer on tap in pubs in Ireland. In response to this, several microbreweries started their own pubs – some of them with great success. Examples of breweries that operate pubs or on-site restaurants are Dead Centre Brewing, Brú Brewery, Rascals Brewing, and Rising Sons Brewery.

Reactions from macro-breweries

Even though craft beer makes up just a small part of the overall Irish beer market, macro-breweries have responded by launching their own craft-ish brands. Heineken has, for instance, start selling the pale ale Cute Hoor, with packaging that looks very different from the standard Heineken beers, and where the labelling is pretty coy about showcasing that this is indeed a Heineken product.

Some large corporations have also gone the route of acquiring or investing in independent craft breweries in Ireland. Molson Coors did, for instance, purchase Franciscan Well Brewery in 2013. The beer is still sold under the brand Franciscan Well, but with MCBC added to the packaging to identify the parent company.

Brewing associations in Ireland

The Irish Brewers Association was founded back in 1904. Today, it is a division of the large national lobby group Ibec, and only have five members – all of which are macro-breweries.

To better suit the needs of small-scale craft beer makers, two new organisations were formed in the early 2010s: “Beer Ireland”, “Beoir” and “Independent Craft Brewers & Distillers or Ireland”. The latter has since then dropped the distillers and is now focusing solely on beer making, having changed its name to Craft Brewers or Ireland.

Irish craft beers

Examples of craft breweries in the Republic of Ireland

Brewery Town County Founded
The Porterhouse Brewing Company Dublin Dublin 1989
Carlow Brewing Company Bagenalstown Carlow 1996
White Gypsy Brewery Templemore Tipperary 1996
Whitewater Brewing Company Castlewellan County Down 1996
Franciscan Well Brewery Cork Cork 1998
Galway Bay Brewery Galway Galway 2005
Barrelhead Brewery Dublin Dublin 2006
Galway Hooker Brewery Oranmore Galway 2006
West Kerry Brewery

(Beoir Chorca Dhuibhne)

Ballyferriter Kerry 2008
Trouble Brewing Kill Kildare 2009
Bo Bristle Brewing Banagher Offaly 2010
Dungarvan Brewing Dungarvan Waterford 2010
Metalman Brewing Company Waterford Waterford 2010
Treaty City Brewing Co Limerick Limerick 2010
Burren Brewery Lisdoonvarna Clare 2011
Carrig Brewing Company Drumshanbo Leitrim 2011
Donegal Brewing Company Ballyshannon Donegal 2011
5 Lamps Brewery Dublin Dublin 2012
Brown Paper Bag Project Dublin Dublin 2012
Kinnegar Brewing Rathmullan Donegal 2012
Mountain Man Brewing Company West Cork Cork 2012
Rising Sons Brewery Cork Cork 2012
9 White Deer Brewery Macroom Cork 2013
Blacks Brewery Kinsale Cork 2013
Brú Brewery Trim Meath 2013
J.W. Sweetman Dublin Dublin 2013
Manor Brewing Company Manor Kilbride Wicklow 2013
Mescan Brewery Kilsallagh Mayo 2013
Rascals Brewing Company Rathcoole Dublin 2013
Stone Barrel Brewing Company Dublin Dublin 2013
West Mayo Brewery Castlebar Mayo 2013
Black Donkey Brewing Ballinlough Roscommon 2014
Brehon Brewhouse Carrickmacross Monaghan 2014
Carlingford Brewing Company Carlingford Louth 2014
Crafty Divils Killorglin Kerry 2014
Four Provinces Brew. Co. Kimmage Dublin 2014

(Rye River Brewing Company)

Celbridge Kildare 2014
Muckish Mountain Brewery Creeslough Donegal 2014
Munster Brewery Youghal Cork 2014
N17 Brewery Tuam Galway 2014
O Brother Brewing Kilcool Wicklow 2014
Reel Deel Brewery Crossmolina Mayo 2014
St. Mel’s Brewing Company Longford Longford 2014
Torc Brewing Killarney Kerry 2014
West Cork Brewing Co Cork Cork 2014
White Hag Brewery, The Ballymote Sligo 2014
Wicklow Brewery, The Redcross Wicklow 2014
Wicklow Wolf Brewing Company Bray Wicklow 2014
12 Acres Brewery Killeshin Laois 2015
Drew Fox Brewing Company Wexford Co. Wexford 2015
Killarney Brewing Company Killarney Kerry 2015
Lough Gill Brewery Sligo Sligo 2015
Wood Key Brewing Dublin Dublin 2015
YellowBelly Beer Wexford Wexford 2015
Ballykilcavan Brewery Stradbally Laois 2016
Boyne Brewhouse Drogheda Louth 2016
Hope Craft Brewery Dublin Dublin 2016
Sullivan’s Brewing Company Kilkenny Kilkenny 2016