A curious thing is happening in the Irish home bar scene right now…
Guinness seem to have recently stopped kegging their stout in Ireland and have moved it to the UK. This might not seem to be a big deal considering the hospitality sector is mostly closed at the moment, but it poses a problem for anyone with a home bar. It’s pretty difficult to get your hands on a keg of Guinness right now in Ireland, and importing from the UK would be costly, especially after Brexit.
Home bars Ireland
There is quite a large community of people who have home bars in Ireland. There is a very active Facebook group called home bars ireland with almost 13,000 members. I’m sure the lockdown has expanded the number of home bars, but it seems to have been quite active prior to that.
With the lack of Guinness at the moment, home bar enthusiasts have been searching for alternatives. Thankfully some independent Irish breweries have been able to step in to fill the gap. Brennan’s stout and 9 White Deer’s stag stout have been the main benefactors, but Porterhouse seems to be in the mix too. This hasn’t been limited to the stout market either, with seemingly some increased support for Four Provinces’ lager and IPA too.
You can see some examples of happy customers in the images below, and on this video review posted on Brennan’s Facebook page: https://fb.watch/3OsU_EvzeP/.
From briefly talking to Peter from Brennan’s brewery it seems he’s been inundated with requests for kegs and quite literally can’t meet demand (yet!). It’s really refreshing to see such an upsurge in demand for good quality beer from small Irish breweries. I know it’s only come about because of a decision that Diageo have made, but it’s still good to see. It may open people’s minds more to the many great (award-winning) stouts in Ireland. We’re no longer a one-trick pony!
There have been some interesting discussions on the home bars ireland Facebook group. Quite a few people have been impressed by the new stouts, with some saying they won’t be going back to Guinness. For others, while they may like Brennan’s or 9 White Deer, they will probably go back to Guinness when it’s available again. And then there are those who are still searching in vain for that Guinness keg, with some looking to import them from the UK!
One particular discussion was around the higher price of kegs from smaller breweries. The point being made was that they should lower the price to match Guinness and capitalise on the opportunity. As great as it would be to see smaller breweries lower their prices, as a few people pointed out, it’s not feasible for small breweries to compete on price. Diageo could easily lower their price too. There is only one winner if a small brewery engages in a price war with a large multi-national drinks company! Smaller breweries are better served appealing to quality and support for small Irish owned businesses, rather than on price.
Overall the discussion has been quite positive and it’s great to see people engaging with small local or Irish-owned breweries.
A stout revolution?
So, what will come of this? Will people be more open to trying new stouts and other beers? Will people taste Brennan’s, 9 White Deer, Four Provinces or Porterhouse and never go back? Or will most people go back to the familiar and cheaper Guinness once it’s available again?
There will of course be a cohort who will go back wholly to their familiar brands. We can be quite brand loyal in Ireland. I do think however that this has drawn people’s attention to the many breweries and beers we have now. Hopefully, people will now be more open to trying them. There are many reasons why this is a good thing and why its good to support small Irish-owned breweries, as discussed in a previous post.
It is worth pointing out though, it doesn’t have to be all one or the other. You can of course drink your usual big brand beer when you like, but also support the small Irish breweries when you can. Every single keg, pint, can or bottle makes a difference!