Farmhouse beers from Donegal

A brewery grows

Kinnegar in a Can

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The ever-increasing tempo of the canning bandwagon that has criss-crossed the Irish brewing landscape has been a sight to behold. Today we’re taking our first steps on the trail pioneered by our pals at Metalman Brewing when they became the first craft brewery in Ireland to commission a canning line. What started in 2014 in Waterford has now made it to Donegal.

And to answer the question we’ve fielded most frequently for the past few months: What beer is going into the infamous cans?

We’ll be selling what to date have been our “specials” in cans in the domestic market. Our regular range will stay in our familiar 500ml bottles. All of our beers will be canned for the export market.

At least this is the plan. Who knows where the future will take us. For now we’re just looking forward to emptying a few of these blessed cans this weekend after the monumental effort of getting the beer into them!

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Indie Beer Week : We had a blast!

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We had a blast during Indie Beer Week Ireland.

Thanks to everybody who joined us for our Big Day Out at the Brewery and on our Seafarer’s Tour of Kinnegarland.

We’re all part of a seismic shift in the balance of the beer world. No longer the exclusive remit of big, anonymous corporations, brewing is now a craft that exists at local level and enriches small communities.

We’re thrilled to have raised €1600 for Pieta House to help support suicide awareness and prevention.

Lovely to welcome our Inishowen neighbours, Boghopper Brewery from Muff, who joined us for the day and also served their beer in aid of this excellent charity. Generous contributions also came from Irish Premium Oysters who donated the freshest of fresh Donegal oysters to accompany the local beer and our homemade soft drinks.

Fed on the sublime grilled cheese sandwiches from Scarpello & Co and entertained by DJ artists Turn It On, the afternoon at K2 had a leisurely and relaxed ambience. A phenomenal preview performance from one of this year’s Earagail Arts Festival highlights, Basork, brought the curtain down on the day.

Thanks to the Local Enterprise Office who supported the nationwide initiative not only financially but also with great spirit and enthusiasm. Not the least of their contribution was John Soffe, the photographer who documented the Big Day Out so well.

Our Seafarer’s Tour had to make do with an amateur-driven dying smart phone but the Great Arch graciously makes any photographer look respectable. We were blessed with decent weather and great company from the eclectic mix of voyagers and our trusty captain and mate, Niall and Angela. What a beautiful place Kinnegarland is.

We’re already looking forward to Indie Beer Week Ireland 2018.

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Big Day Out at the Brewery : Nuts and Bolts

K2 Map BIndie Beer Week kicks off tomorrow across the country and the countdown continues to our Big Day Out at the Brewery. Here are some nuts and bolts:

You’ll find K2 in the Ballyraine Industrial Estate. It looks quite different to the idyllic setting of K1 that you see on our Facebook masthead at the moment. That just makes the surprise all the better when you go inside!

There’s parking at the brewery. Please park considerately to allow everyone to squeeze in.

The event kicks off at 2pm and runs until a punctual finish at 8pm. It’s a drop-in event — you don’t need to be there from start to finish so fit it into your day as suits you best.

Brewery tours will run every half hour or so and you can put your name on the list for the tour of your choice when you arrive. Children will be treated to Rick’s special Kid’s Brewery Tour — not to be missed. We’ll probably run this twice during the afternoon.

As well as beer, we’ll be serving homemade soft drinks including some highly experimental shrubs.

Food will be available thoughout the afternoon — Scarpello & Co’s grilled cheese sandwiches as well as fresh oysters.

We’ll be unveiling our brand new Kinnegarland poster and our traditional metal beer signs in our Kinnegar corner shop. We’ll also have the usual T-shirts, hoodies, glasses and gift packs.

Tours and demos will finish up by 5.30pm, in time for Basork’s live performance shortly after 6pm.

All beer will be served in return for a donation to Pieta House.

And remember, the event is booked out so please don’t travel, if you’re not already on the list.


Indie Beer Week : Music menu takes shape for Big Day Out at the Brewery

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***This event is now booked out***

Just as the drinks menu nears completion for our Big Day Out at the Brewery next Saturday, the musical menu has now taken proper shape.

Turn It On play music everywhere it’s needed — including K2! They’ll entertain us from around 3–5pm. A community of music lovers, Turn It On run vinyl nights and DJ events, festivals and parties.

Shortly after 6pm we’ll be treated to a special preview performance from one of the artists performing at this year’s Earagail Arts Festival. The 10-piece Basork fusion group will fill K2 with Balkan-Irish sounds in what promises to be a lively curtain-closer to the big day.

Indie Beer Week Ireland kicks off on Friday next, 23 June and runs until Sunday 2 July. Throughout the country, 27 independent Irish breweries will invite their local communities to visit them for special events to discover where and how real beer is made.

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Follow the Hops across the Irish Sea: Celebrate St Patrick with Kinnegar

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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

BrewDog Bars*:
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!

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Finishing the unpacking and finding the medals

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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
SILVER  Otway
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.

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How big is K2?

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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.)

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Where was Kinnegar four years ago?

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.

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K2 Series Part I — The Big Move

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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?)

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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…

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Proud to be Independent Irish Craft Beer

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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.

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How did we end up here?

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Anita Guidera and Don McMahan of Soft Irish Rain Productions asked the question as part of their 10-part documentary series for Highland Radio.

> You can listen to the answer here.

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Bumper weekend with celebrations on 3 fronts

We’re generally a bit shy about banging the drum but we really do want to celebrate the achievements of this past weekend. Not least because we want to acknowledge the contribution our colleagues, friends, customers and partners have made to each of these successes!

Dublin Beer Cup | Flying Saucer

Flying Saucer Gold

On Friday at the Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair in Dublin’s Convention Centre we were thrilled to accept the gold medal awarded to Flying Saucer, our Special Export Stout, in the Dublin Craft Beer Cup. This latest medal now hangs proudly beside the silvers and bronzes won by Black Bucket, Rustbucket, Devil’s Backbone and Yannaroddy in 2014 and 2015. And it’s not just the team here at Kinnegar who are gloating — Flying Saucer is the beer made during our first ever Kinnegar Brewing Academy last November, so we have a small army of brewing assistants whose names will forever be associated with the achievement.*

Beoir’s 2016 Beer of the Year Awards | Rustbucket

RB Overview.jpgOn a weekend of pleasant surprises, Sunday morning brought two more reasons to smile. Beoir is an independent group of consumers with the primary goal of supporting and raising awareness of Ireland’s native independent microbreweries. Beoir’s annual awards seek to identify the drinkers’ favourites amongst the beers brewed in Ireland. We are honoured to see Rustbucket standing tall in the First Runner Up spot on this prestigious winner’s podium. Thank you to each and every one of the voters who supported Rustbucket. We are immensely proud.

McKenna Guides Top 100 Restaurants 2016 | The Taproom

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And to crown a dizzying day, in the Sunday Times John and Sally McKenna again named the Taproom as one of the McKenna Guides Top 100 Restaurants in Ireland. What more could we ask for in the week when we gear up to reopen after a short winter break? We’re very grateful to our partners and pals at Rathmullan House and Scarpello & Co for helping us make the Taproom such a success. Great beer deserves great pizza in a great place!

* Upcoming Academy dates: Sat&Sun 30 April/1 May and 15/16 October

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Next generation joins the crew at Kinnegar

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Today we welcomed our newest recruit to the Kinnegar team. Rachel’s son Eoin has been appointed Chief of Paper Shredding Operations, quickly getting to grips with our latest purchase. Foreman Zack supervised the young apprentice and gave Eoin full marks for bone-throwing during the 15-minute interval in proceedings that allowed the hard-pressed shredder to cool down.

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Parisian début at The Green Goose

Although our Irish customers swallow every drop of beer we can produce, sending the odd shipment abroad to test the continental European waters is a lot of fun. The case of Rustbucket we sent to Breandán at Belgian Smaak for his Irish beer tasting (read about it here) earlier in the year was well received.

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Tonight Kinnegar takes a French bow, chaperoned to a tasting this time by Liam Dunn. News is in that our case of beer has just landed safely at The Green Goose on Rue des Boulets in Paris. It was left to Libby’s surgical skills to ensure that Geuzberry was properly costumed for his Parisian début.

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Brewers v. Packagers on a sunny September day

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There are no rules about lining out according to department — it just looks like a stand off!

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What makes a brewer tick?

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What makes a brewer tick? In the humble opinion of Mrs Kinnegar, it’s the sheer diversity of challenges that brewers meet in the normal course of their working lives. Is there any other career that demands such a range of skills? Chemistry, biology, engineering, cooking and much, much more (not to talk of actually running the business and selling the beer, if you happen to be responsible for minor little details like these on the side).

Readiness to tackle any task is a prerequisite for any brewer. Today the task was servicing the heat exchanger. Rachel documented part of the process to illustrate that Rick does actually lift a finger occasionally. Dismantling the brew house and heat exchanger is a bit like taking an old clock to pieces. You reassemble it and wonder will it work okay without the various pieces you have left over. Rick didn’t have a job as a teenager assembling bicycles at Christmas time for nothing. Tom was there to bail him out, just in case…

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Finding a Kinnegar in Kinnegarland

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With many local products, finding them “locally” can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. Fish in Donegal, for instance…

While Kinnegar’s reach nationwide has grown steadily over the last 18 months, in our local territory of north east Donegal the heavy lifting has been done by a relatively small number of outlets. In the off-license world, Whoriskey’s in Ramelton and The Counter in Letterkenny have been true Kinnegar heroes and remain the best local source for our full range of beers, specials included. Happily they’re now receiving strong support from a few more key outlets. You’ll find our regular range in Kellys Centra on the Mountain Top and Kernan’s Eurospars in Moorefield and Newtowncunningham.

Our reach across pubs and restaurants locally has also grown. Our Kinnegar heroes here in Rathmullan are the White Harte, Beachcomber, Belles Kitchen and Rathmullan House, while Aengus in the Olde Glen Bar is the daddy of all craft publicans in this part of the world and is responsible for more Kinnegar conversions than any other man standing. Nearby in Carrigart, Chris in Logues is following in Aengus’s footsteps while Ryan in the Carrigart Hotel is now championing the cause. And in Dunfanaghy, we’re very happy to see the Dunfanaghy Golf Club add us to their shelf, joining The Mill, Arnolds and Cafe Arnou in that part of the world.

Close to home in Ramelton, the Bridge Bar continues to please its clientele with Kinnegar while down the town, another American Rick in Shaughnessys and Joe in Conways are now proudly stocking our beers. Michael in the Travellers Inn in Milford is a longtime supporter as is Aaron in Nora’s, Kilmacrennan. Perennial Letterkenny favourite, McGinleys, stock our bottles and for an impressive draught offering (which includes some Camden and Porterhouse as well as Kinnegar), Voodoo’s new upstairs taproom and winebar, House, is not to be missed. Pats on the Square and the Lemontree, two of our most loyal advocates, are now joined in the beer-with-food cause by the Yellow Pepper, Stateside and the Radisson. On the fringes of our local bright lights, Browns on the Green at Letterkenny Golf Club and the Silver Tassie proudly serve their local beer.

For a comprehensive list of stockists (which we keep as up-to-date as we can), take a scroll down through our stockists page.

And just one word of caution: Don’t be too hard on your local publican or off-license if they’re out of Scraggy Bay. It’s not their fault that we just can’t keep up with demand for Yellowcap!

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Women at Kinnegar brewing up a storm

When neighbouring farmer Eamonn came to collect our spent grains yesterday he thrust a copy of this week’s Irish Country Living from the Farmer’s Journal into Rick’s hands. We were delighted to see the feature on the women brewing up a storm in Ireland. Of course our immediate reaction was “what about us!!!”.

So, we’ve made a decision to actively inform the world about our assistant brewer, Rachel, who (wo)manhandles the whole operation with unparalleled skill and efficiency. She recently completed her concise course in brewing technology with the Siebel Institute in Chicago and now brandishes an impressive academic award to balance the knowledge and expertise she has accumulated through long hours on the brewery floor. While Rick is the name on everybody’s lips when it comes to Kinnegar, he readily acknowledges that the whole Kinnegar world would crumble without Rachel. She is most probably responsible for brewing the next Kinnegar beer you’re going to enjoy. Come and meet her at Alltech when she’s getting a rare break from the brewery to meet her public.

More about the other women in Kinnegar coming soon!

Mashing In


Making strides

Last week was fairly monumental in the short life of Kinnegar Brewing. Having manhandled the first of our 20HL fermenters into position in mid-November, we recently successfully brewed our first double batch of Limeburner into it. Last week these precious 20HL were transferred in to our new bright tank, comfortably housed in a slightly more spacious conditioning cellar. In the new packaging area, our little bottling line was installed on the same day. With lots of chaos, a steep learning curve, and a heartbreaking quota of precious Rustbucket disappearing down the drain, the little beauty was successfully commissioned and the lives of our packaging staff were changed forever.

Labeling still continues at its usual plodding pace — that’s a project for another day…

Today is the first day of the new routine, unassisted by the Meheen-master, Karl from Oasthouse. A 1000L batch of Limeburner will shortly be followed by a batch of Black Bucket. We’re doing okay so far so there should be plenty of beer for Christmas rolling out of Donegal when pallets are collected on Wednesday and Friday.

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Coming soon: The Kinnegar Gift Pack

All of you who have asked us over the past year if we would consider producing a gift pack can now sleep easy at night: it’s on its way!

Our new presentation box is in production, due for delivery at latest on 27 November. Place it squarely on your Christmas wish list and just daydream about whether you’d prefer 2 glasses with 2 beers, or 1 glass with 3 beers. If you’re really desperate for the beer, you can even opt for 4 beers and just skip the glassware.

Full details on price and availability to follow.

Kinnegar Gift Box

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Otway’s new suit

In the lingering aftermath of Europe’s stunning victory in the Ryder Cup, the beer we brewed in honour of Paul McGinley’s Donegal roots continues to win friends and influence people. We’re proud that Rick O’Shea, one of the country’s highest profile craft beer enthusiasts, included Otway in his most recent “beers I liked and you might too” list (www.rickoshea.ie).

It’s no surprise then that Otway has been taken to the tailors. Like the Ryder Cup team members changing back into civvies after the big event, Otway’s “Special” stripe has been retired. He now sports a smart new regulation outfit, joining Limeburner, Devil’s Backbone, Scraggy Bay, Rustbucket and Yannaroddy as part of the permanent Kinnegar team. He has of course retained his glorious European team blue.

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Kinnegar Brewing selected as National Finalist for 2014 Startup Awards

We’re thrilled to have been selected as a National Finalist in the Bank of Ireland 2014 Startup Awards in two different categories – Food & Drink Entrepreneurial Startup of the Year and Home or Craft Based Startup of the Year.

The competition on the shortlist looks very impressive – there seems to be an abundance of good new Startups with great products and a wealth of good ideas emerging at the moment. Which is great to see and hopefully a good indicator that the future is looking brighter for the Irish economy, but it’s a little intimidating from where we’re sitting.

The next step in the process involves what is described as a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style interview with the judging panel. Guess that means we should expect a good old grilling and plenty of tough questions. Nothing like a little more pressure to spice up the rest of the week.

For more information on the awards visit 2014 Startup Awards

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The Taproom is hiring …

The Taproom at Rathmullan House is looking for a beer enthusiast with hospitality experience to join our bar staff. This is a part-time position. During the non-Summer months the Taproom is open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 5:30–9pm, and Sundays from 1–8pm. Click on the link for a more detailed description of the position available.

> Taproom Bartender

If you’re interested in applying, please email your CV with a cover note to info@kinnegarbrewing.ie

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In our own words

As the concrete mixers, lorries and all-important men go full tilt at the conversion of the old stables, it’s nice to listen back to Mary Brophy’s interview at the brewery, recorded less than a year ago. How things have moved along in that space of time!

 

A big thank you to Mary (of Hollybrook Films) and her producer, Neal, for making the recording available to us. The interview was first broadcast as part of the Highland Radio series, Our Food.

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