Welcome to ‘Quick Half,’ a revamped and exciting feature! Here, we delve into the world of beer and meet the dynamic personalities that make this scene so vibrant. Our goal is to share their stories while enjoying a drink together.
In this session, I had the opportunity to connect with Brian Cahill over Teams. Despite our busy schedules and the geographical gap between us (see you soon in Northern Ireland, Brian!), our conversation takes center stage in this edition.
So, grab a drink, join our dialogue, and let’s uncover the unique insights Brian has to offer. Cheers!
Steven: “Today I am lucky to be in the company all be it via Teams with Brian Cahill from Sesh Beer Co/Craic Beer Community – I will let Brian get into the background of everything in a second but lets find out what he has chosen for his drink of choice today?”
Brian: “Currently drinking a Hop On by Hope. I may be a little biased, but it’s easily one of my favourite Session IPAs!”
Steven: “Haven’t had a can of Hope in while, must get a look on Craft Central – I have Bullhouse Brew Co x Northern Monk – Hallion Battillon American Pale Ale as my drink this evening
– with the drinks out of the way lets give the readers a little background into your various ventures and a little about you?”
Brian: “Hey Steven (and the Tilt and Pour Community!) thanks a million for inviting me on to chat.
So my name is Brian Cahill, I run Sesh Beer Co., which we’ll delve into in more detail shortly, and also Craic Beer Community, which is a network that champions independent Irish breweries through various events, promotion and our community platform.
So we share quite a large common goal and interest with your good selves!”
Steven: “Fantastic, agreed we do share a lot of interests within the scene, we can talk more about Craic Beer Community soon but what is Sesh Beer Co and how did it come about?”
Brian: “Sesh Beer Co is a fun and accessible beer brand that brews full-flavoured beers designed with maximum sessionability in mind.
Believe it or not, I had the idea when lying in bed after a New Year’s Eve party! A friend was heading away for a week and had asked me to recommend some session-strength craft beers (that were fairly widely available) for him to take with him, and I just drew a blank on the spot.
Of course I eventually managed to get a hit list together for him, and I could name a load off the top of my head right now, but it got me thinking that there could be a gap in the market for a brewery that solely specializes in session-strength craft.
The more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t get it out of my head, and I knew I just had to fire ahead with it. So I set about getting it up and running!”
Steven: “We all have that one person who we rely on for beer suggestions! Great stuff, so you have this sessionable concept in mind so what beers have you brewed to date?”
Brian: “So far we have brewed two of our core range beers, which are Sesh IPA and Sesh Pilsner, and our first limited edition, Sesh Sour.
Sesh IPA is a 3.8% hazy and juicy Session IPA. It has a bit of upfront bitterness which I love, and then rounds out into the juicy, tropical fruit flavours that we’re so accustomed to in modern IPAs.
Sesh Pilsner is a clean and crisp 4% Czech-style pils. It’s all Saaz hops in this one, so it has some of the spicy, funky notes you’d expect from it. I absolutely adore this beer and would happily hoof it all day (within reason and moderation of course!)
Sesh Sour is a 3.8% tart, raspberry ale. It’s definitely a more sessionable sour as it’s on the tart side rather than being an eye-watering mouth-puckering sour!”
Steven: “Now I won’t lie, the Sesh IPA is very easily drunk, and you’d be quick to forget how many you have in a sitting and yes, within reason and moderation of course! Looking forward to the Sesh Sour on tap on Thursday!
Now coming back before I digress, like us you contract brew, is that correct? How did this come about?”
Brian: “Yes, I brew in Hope Beer in Dublin, which has a state-of-the-art 20 hectolitre (2,000 litre) Caspary brewhouse. It also has a 2 hec (200 litre) pilot kit, which is very much my domain!
In terms of being hands on, I would say I’m as hands on as I can be! I’ve homebrewed for 15+ years, so all of the Sesh beer recipes are my own creations.
Richie (Hamilton – Hope Head Brewer) looks after all of the actual brewing on the big kit, as I’m not trained in on it. To be honest, I’m more than happy to leave him at it as I have enough other things to juggle!
The pilot kit is essentially a big homebrew kit, so I’m allowed free reign here!
So Richie brews the IPA and Pilsner on the big kit, and I brewed a double batch of the Sour back-to-back on the pilot.
This put my brewing chops to the test in terms of ensuring both batches were consistent with one another, so I was delighted when they were both bang on!
It all came about as I live in Baldoyle so Hope are my local brewery. I’ve always had a great relationship with Wim (de Jongh – Hope Owner) and the team there that goes back from when I first set up Craic!
Wim has always been a great supporter of both the community and the craft beer industry as a whole. When the opportunity came up to get involved there and brew, it was a no-brainer for me.”
Steven: “I feel that fear Brian, I really do! It’s great to hear your background into Sesh Beer Co, juggling the cores on the 20HL and 2HL pilot is some undertaking. Do you do Sesh Beer Co full-time? Or is it case of managing it alongside your other job(s)/project(s)?”
Brian: “Unfortunately it’s not full time yet as it hasn’t grown to that scale. It’s very much on the upward trajectory though so that’s the plan and target for early in the new year!
At the moment I help out in Hope a day or two a week on the marketing and operations side of things. Thankfully this allows me to achieve some efficiencies and economies of scale when working with a bigger brewery.
As mentioned earlier, I also run Craic Beer Community. This is something that completely took off during covid times as it allowed brewers to continue to communicate with beer drinkers, and provided beer drinkers with some much needed social interaction while also supporting their favourite breweries!
I’ll hold my hands up and say that Craic has been a little quiet as of late while trying to juggle everything else going on. We’ve got some events in the pipeline though, keep an eye on the socials for those!
I also operate as a freelance Instructional Designer / eLearning Specialist (which was my previous life!) to help cover the bills and keep things ticking over!
Sleep is overrated anyway.”
Steven: ” Right let me get this straight you brew, do some marketing, sales, admin and also freelance? Seriously, Brian how do you manage your time?”
Brian: “It’s really, really tricky. The hardest thing I’ve found about the beer industry is that you have so many things to juggle simultaneously (both on the production side and on the sales and marketing side) and if just one of things goes awry then it can knock all of your plans and timelines completely out of whack!
You have to be both very disciplined and very organized, and manage your time very efficiently. It’s especially important now as it’s not a full time gig for me yet.
As mentioned earlier, helping out in Hope a couple of days a week has also helped me to capitalize on some efficiencies.
I joked earlier about sleep, but something else I learned very quickly is that you also need to carve out some non-negotiable downtime for yourself.
Beer and the beer industry can be all-consuming if you let it. It’s a sure-fire way to getting jaded very quickly.”
Steven: “Do you have any more events coming up?”
Brian: “So we’ve got the Sesh launch night in Northern Lights on Thurs Nov 9th. I’m really looking forward to that, as it will be the first pour of any Sesh beers in Northern Ireland! Daniel in NL is a big supporter and a gent too.
We’re getting into silly season then so it will likely just be a few smaller local tasting events in Dublin, and then full steam ahead into the new year.”
Steven: “What if we can’t make Thursday at Northern Lights, how do we get our hands on the beers?”
Brian: “Conall in Salty Buoy has been a massive supporter from Day 1 and has just taken on a mixed pallet of the core range. So expect to see the beers rolling out in all of the best independent offies across NI. So far (at time of writing) Gee’s Wineshop, DC Wines, KWM Wines/Hopster and First and Last Off Licence have all committed to taking some on, and of course we’ll have the three beers pouring at the launch night in Northern Lights too!”
Steven: “‘Gee’s are great, I may seem biased as I grew up a mile away from the shop but shh! Great to hear a lot of off sales are taking the beers on here in NI.
So, things are really starting to ramp up here, what are the next set of beers coming down the pipeline? Collab’s?”
Brian: “It’s all been too positive so far, so now for a bit of a downer! The new Deposit Return Scheme is coming into effect in ROI from Feb 1st. While I 100% agree with the overall aim and sentiment of the scheme, the execution of it leaves a little to be desired for the smaller producers. I won’t go into the details here, but it has us a little bit hamstrung in terms of new brews until the new year.
That being said, I’m looking at a third in the core range (a more west coast style session IPA) and then some pilot brew experimentation too. I brewed a dark mild with Hope in January last year, so that might suit for a pilot kit rebrew!”
Steven: “The Deposit Return Scheme is going to make business a lot harder in general, may follow this up separately with you!
And now for something completely different, if you were to recommend any Irish beer in your favourite pub where would you recommend and what would you be drinking there?”
Brian: “This is a really, really tricky one for me, as I would have had an automatic response for this previously. It would have been a pint of Wrassler’s (XXXX) in the Porterhouse Temple Bar, however some recent ownership changes make that recommendation a little tricky now.
Instead I’ll opt for whatever delights that Paddy in Underdog has on rotation on that given day. The last beer I had in there was the Wicklow Wolf Autumn Locavore BA Barley Wine, and it was absolutely spectacular.
It’s also hard to beat a pint of Hop On in my local, which is The White House, Baldoyle!”
Steven: “Oh, that’s a kicker always enjoyed a Wrassler’s (XXXX) in Porterhouse but have yet to make it to this iteration of Underdog which I will hopefully rectify in the New Year!
Brian, I appreciate the time and enjoyed getting a little insight into Sesh Beer Co! I will see you on Thursday! – let’s hope we don’t come last in the quiz!
Thanks to Brian for sharing a quick chat with us, it quickly digressed into some questions about merch (look out for his bright hats) and places to check out in Belgium! You can meet the man himself this Thursday 9th November at Northern Lights for the Sesh Beer Co Northern Ireland (NI) launch.