In July 2018 there 87 microbreweries licensed and producing Irish craft beer. Beyond this, there are the perennial macro brewers along with a flotilla of contract brewers and gypsy brewers who all contribute to a flourishing beer industry in Ireland and a dearth of choices for aficionados.
In past times, beer didn’t travel well and industrial scale production was limited largely to one of two cities. Towns across the country boasted local breweries, brewing to local tastes, using local ingredients and providing local employment. The twentieth century witnessed a consolidation in the industry and by the end of the century, microbreweries numbered a mere handful. Production of beer was concentrated in the hands of Guinness, Murphy’s and Beamish and Crawford.
The past decade has witnessed an explosive re-emergence of craft brewing in Ireland and it has found new homes throughout the country. Although the distribution is not uniform, brewers have been re-established in all counties save one.
To get a better sense of the connection to localities and local supply, a first step explores the number of microbreweries per 100,000 residents in a county. Three counties are particular;y well served: Longford, Wicklow and Donegal. All boast a proud brewing tradition, further cemented by this profusion of local entrepreneurship.
If we can get a handle on how far afield local production is shipped and what proportion of production is consumed locally we could establish a far more nuanced picture.