Ever since craft brewers began brewing craft beers in Ireland, sceptics have insisted that these little Irish craft enterprises were doomed.
Despite the evidence from the USA, the U.K. and elsewhere that craft beers can capture a significant sector of the beer market, the doubters insist that Ireland is different. The big boys – Diageo and Interbrew – are just too big, they say. And away from the cities, country pubs are in decline and, anyway, the only people in Ireland who drink – young wans – won’t pay the extra for craft beers.
Put it all together and, any day now, the sky will fall on the craft brewing business.
That seems logical, but logic tends to be defied by one thing: human creativity. And here’s the thing about Ireland’s craft brewers: they are one hell of a crew of creative people.
Take Rick Le Vert, of Kinnegar Brewing, for example. With a name straight out of a graphic novel, Mr Le Vert is one of those brewers who shouldn’t be a brewer: he’s a designer by trade, a graduate in visual communications, with an added degree in economics.
He brews in the worst place imaginable: way, way, way up in the far north of Donegal. Hasn’t he ever considered logistics? Doesn’t he have an accountant to tell him the basic truths of business? Didn’t he learn anything in those economics lectures?
But even with logic and logistics pitted against him, Mr Le Vert and his wife, Libby, have just opened K2, their brand new brewery in Letterkenny, having outgrown the original brewery in Rathmullan. During 2017 they patiently perfected their range of brews in the new premises – the core range of half a dozen Kinnegar beers, and the Kinnegar Specials, which number 5 in total.
The beers are particularly handsome – that design background was never going to waste – and particularly satisfying to drink. The craft and the creativity in the Kinnegar brews is evident in every element, which makes them special: they force you to take a moment to contemplate them and, in so doing, they are the antithesis of quotidian beers.
They are worth your time, and your money, because they are beautiful things. And, like all beautiful things, they defy logic.