Working in a small Irish brewery, you’d be forgiven for thinking that St Patrick’s Day is a national holiday across the water. Our great Irish diaspora has ensured that StP will be celebrated in the best of watering holes the length and breadth of Britain. And in line with the times, the shamrock will be drowned with quality beers from independently-owned Irish breweries in modern, trend-setting bars and off-licences that bear little if any resemblance to the Guinness-sodden Oirish pubs of the old days.
As a Donegal brewery, we’re particularly proud to see Kinnegar being poured in Scotland. For far too long we’ve been exporting our people to that bit of land across the water — it makes a refreshing change to be exporting our beer instead. You’ll find us in BrewDog bars in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Stirling, as well as part of the Ireland Craft Beers showcase at Six Degrees North in Edinburgh.
On top of our well-heralded guest appearance across the full range of BrewDog bars, Kinnegar will be pouring alongside other fine Irish breweries at several more venues in London, Huddersfield and Crewe.
Here’s exactly where you can find a pint to celebrate our national holiday:
Tate Modern, St Patricks Day Festival, London
The Rake, Borough Market, London
The King & Co, Clapham Park Road, London
Beer Asylum, London
Earl of Essex, London
Mason & Co, London
Bank of Friendship, London
The Sportsman, Huddersfield
Beer Dock, Crewe
Chapter Festival, Wales
Six Degrees North, Edinburgh
Aberdeen BrewDog Yannaroddy
Castlegate BrewDog Otway / Crossroads
Merchant City DogHouse Scraggy Bay / Black Bucket
Glasgow BrewDog Otway / Crossroads
Leeds BrewDog Black Bucket
ShuffleDog Leeds Black Bucket
York BrewDog Yannaroddy
Camden BrewDog Crossroads / White Rabbit
Clerkenwell BrewDog Scraggy Bay / Rustbucket
Shoreditch BrewDog Flying Saucer
Homerton BrewDog Yannaroddy
Shepherds Bush BrewDog Yannaroddy / Black Bucket
Soho BrewDog Crossroads / Flying Saucer
Clapham BrewDog Black Bucket / Flying Saucer
Birmingham BrewDog Yannaroddy
Brighton BrewDog Rustbucket / Flying Saucer
Bristol BrewDog Rustbucket
Cardiff BrewDog Crossroads / Bucket & Spade
Dundee Brewdog Scraggy Bay / Bucket & Spade
Edinburgh BrewDog Crossroads
Leicester Brewdog Scraggy Bay
Liverpool BrewDog Rustbucket
Manchester BrewDog Flying Saucer
Newcastle BrewDog White Rabbit / Bucket & Spade
Norwich BrewDog Rustbucket / Flying Saucer
Nottingham BrewDog Black Bucket
Sheffield Brewdog Rustbucket
Southampton BrewDog Bucket & Spade / Flying Saucer
Stirling Brewdog Crossroads
*Check individual BrewDog bar websites to confirm beers being poured!
Time at last to finish the unpacking after the Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair and Dublin Craft Beer Cup. Here’s the third party evidence that we’re making some nice beers here on the periphery of Europe!
GOLD Yannaroddy, Big Bunny
BRONZE Rustbucket, Black Bucket
Very well done to everybody here at Kinnegar: Rick, Libby, Rachel, David, Kevin, Tom, Louise, Daniel, Thomas, Margaret and Eoin. Brilliant team effort.
Brewers talk of “brew length” and the most frequently named unit of measurement is a hectolitre (that’s 100L, for those of us who don’t hail from continental Europe).
So in technical lingo, Minniegar was a 0.5HL brewery, our current set-up is 10HL and K2 will be 35HL. But we prefer to use a more familiar unit of measurement to give a layman’s impression of the scale. Here’s Zack on the current site in early April 2013 when the walls had just gone up.
Zack’s a Jack Russell, not a Doberman. We’ll photograph him in K2 as soon as we get him in there…
(Read more about building K1 here.)
As the clock ticks rapidly in the direction of K2, it’s hard not to think back to what was going on when K1 was coming to life. We’re going to root out some photos of the development phase over the next few days but this photo provides the answer to the first question.
Four years ago, in January 2013, we were still working in the pilot brewery. Rick brewed. Libby packaged. Very straightforward. Here’s a rare photo of Rick at work in what our future American intern, Maxmarie, would immortally dub “Minniegar”. Photography in the steam-filled room was always a bit of a challenge.
We brewed 50L batches and production, by the time we moved out of Minniegar, was 150L per week. That translated into an average of 120L of packaged product, or 240 bottles of beer a week.
Limeburner, Devil’s Backbone, Scraggy Bay and Rustbucket were all born in Minniegar.
I heard you guys are …
This is a phrase we’ve heard a lot lately, often with a real surprise at what follows.
A very loyal local fan of our beers recently told us how distraught he was because, as he put it, “I heard you guys sold the company.” He was even adamant that he knew who the supposed buyer was.
Another one we heard recently was from a local journalist who rang us up and said, “there was a fellow in here today from Ramelton who heard you’re building a brewing museum in Letterkenny.” The things these fellows come up with.
OK, here it is from the horse’s mouth. No, we haven’t, nor are we interested in selling the company. And no, we are not building a brewery museum. We’re too focused on making beer in the present to be thinking about its past.
This brings us then to what we are doing. We’re moving, or perhaps more accurately, we’re opening a brand new state-of-the-art brewery in nearby Letterkenny. (Our man in Ramelton’s brewing museum?)
The refurbishment works on the new premises are almost complete and our new brewhouse and tanks are in the production pipeline at the manufacturers. Fingers crossed, the different parts of the puzzle will come together in February 2017 when test brewing will commence.
While we are very disappointed to be moving the business out of Rathmullan (more to follow on this in Part II of the K2 series), we are thrilled to be making the move to Letterkenny. Besides enabling us to address the ongoing issue of supply shortages, the new facility will ease the pressure on a team that has put its heart and soul into keeping the production running for the past two years. That means no more 4am starts and midnight finishes.
Even though the clinking of bottles coming off our line will no longer mingle with the bleating of sheep in the surrounding fields, the farmhouse ethos at the core of what we do will remain the same (more to follow on this in Part III of the K2 series).
Our roots are deeply embedded in the hilly fields and farms of northeast Donegal — the perfect environment for the way we make beer. We don’t filter or pasteurise, and we let our industrious little friends, the yeast, carbonate our beer naturally during fermentation.
At K2, as we’re calling it here, Kinnegar will continue to pair brewing tradition with a contemporary sense of adventure to produce clean, crisp, full-flavoured beers.
So, now you can say with full confidence and authority, “I heard you guys are …”
P.S. Our K2 sketch is part of a piece called “Kinnegarland” being created by our old pal Dermot Flynn. It’s on course to be completed before K2…
Today we’re proud to make a small but immensely significant update to our admittedly antiquated website. Those of you lucky enough to be viewing it on a desktop may rotate your eyes slightly to the right and note the Independent Irish Craft Beer symbol at the side of this page.
At a time when our big beer brethern have disgraced themselves, we intend to beat the drum with renewed vigour to herald the presence of the quality beers that we brew and bottle in our independently-owned brewery in Ireland.
On the 3 October 2016, the Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland (ICBI) launched the official symbol for independently brewed Irish craft beer. This symbol differentiates real Irish craft beer from the less authentic pretenders. It reassures consumers that what’s in their glass is an Irish beer made from start to finish at an independently-owned Irish microbrewery.
Over the coming months we’ll be proudly displaying the symbol on our packaging, promotional material and in every other meaningful context.
Anita Guidera and Don McMahan of Soft Irish Rain Productions asked the question as part of their 10-part documentary series for Highland Radio.