Ever Wonder Why Ireland Doesn’t Boast More Craft/Artisan Beers?


This story may help.

Independent beer maker BrewDog were expecting to do well at Scotland’s BII awards (for the licenced trade) at the weekend, sponsored by Diageo.

James from Brewdog writes:

However we were not announced as winners of the award. This disappointment was further compounded when one of the judges (seated at our table) told us in disbelief ‘this simply cannot be, the independent judging panel voted for BrewDog as clear winners of the award’.

Events took a further twist when the people who got given the award refused to accept it as it clearly had ‘BrewDog’ engraved on the trophy as winners.

On Tuesday, 2 days after the award, I (James) took a phone call from Kenny Mitchell, Chairman of the BII in Scotland and Chairman of the Award Committee explaining the situation. To directly quote Kenny:

‘We are all ashamed and embarrassed about what happened. The awards have to be an independent process and BrewDog were the clear winner’

‘Diageo (the main sponsor) approached us at the start of the meal and said under no circumstances could the award be given to BrewDog. They said if this happened they would pull their sponsorship from all future BII events and their representatives would not present any of the awards on the evening.’

We were as gobsmacked as you by Diageo’s behaviour. We made the wrong decision under extreme pressure. We were blackmailed and bullied by Diageo. We should have stuck to our guns and gave the award to BrewDog.‘

Diageo Screws BrewDog (BrewDog)

Thanks Bibi Baskin Robbins

133 thoughts on “Ever Wonder Why Ireland Doesn’t Boast More Craft/Artisan Beers?

  1. Jockstrap

    And thousands of Gobshites still throng the streets on a made up (different) day each September to toast a man who had total contempt for the very people who bought his beer.

    Guinness were the reason so many small brewers closed down in the 18th and 19th centuries. That is a fact. They bought them. And then they closed them.

    Fúck Diageo and fúck Arthur.

      1. Robin Van Handbag

        Guinness Special Export Stout is one of the nicest beers you’re ever likely to taste. In fairness.

        1. Zeleneye

          Not likely but it is certainly a lot more flavoursome than the bland excuse for a stout that is served up on draught in Ireland and across the world.

    1. Dee

      Disgusting behavior from Diageo and Arthur’s Day is an embarrassment to Dublin.

      But . . . damn I still love Guinness

      1. Ruairi Galavan

        Yeah, how dare they! Such corporate bastar…argh GULP GULP GULP GULP!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    2. Three Broadsheets to the Wind

      In fairness though the Guinness family were very good to the people of Dublin, particularly their workers. Diageo on the other hand have become the Microsoft of industry bullying. There are some fantastic Irish microbrews that are readily available in a whole host of shops big and small – it’s an expanding market. German beers have also cut into the Diageo profit margin. It’s great that most Dublin pubs now have weissbier on tap.

        1. True Kilcockian

          In fairness though the Guinness family were very good to the people of Dublin, particularly their workers.

          Not as good as …

    3. Zeleneye

      Small breweries were rife in Ireland at the end of the 19th Century. Guinness and Murphy’s gradually exerted a stranglehold over the market and by the mid-20th Century, there were very few other brewers left.

      1. Will O'Brien

        There’s more to it than this, there were major tax adjustments for alcohol producers brought in at some stage which severely limited the number of small breweries who were able to stay in business afterwards. It was clear corporate protectionism by our government. These bailouts and “stability” measures are nothing new.

        1. Rory

          Actually Guinness, when it began in 1759 used roasted barley to make dry stout instead of malted barley for normal stout as oul John Bull increased the tax on malted barley or maybe it was some restrictions on malting barley. Anyway it was that, which gave Guinness an advantage over the market as other breweries were having to deal with increased production costs and of course it didn’t taste too bad either. It was opportunism on the part of Arthur Guinness that made such a success of his dry stout.

          I didn’t realise people had a problem with Guinness, I feel they’ve done great things for the country and it certainly doesn’t taste like tripe and I’d know I’ve eaten tripe. I do prefer the independent breweries like Galway Hooker or BrewDog but unfortunately those beers are not widely available on tap, so Guinness is my choice and I can’t understand how anyone can enjoy the widely available, watery, sugary lagers like Budweiser sure it tastes like soda water

          1. deliverusfromevil

            Diageo are the Denis O’Brien of getting wasted. They own, distribute or brew-under-license:
            … and many more… ask your local drink-dealer.

          2. The Beer Nut

            *Actually* actually Rory, Guinness didn’t even make stout in 1759. Guinness didn’t make anything in 1759: the lease was signed on December 31st. Guinness was an ale brewery for years, only gradually moving to porter in the late 1700s.

            Roast barley was first used by Guinness in the 20th century — 1920s or ’30s. It hadn’t been invented until the mid-1800s and would have been illegal between 1830 and 1880.

            By the time Guinness moved to a pale malt/roast barley grist it had already been the market leader for 60 years.

    4. A Martin Coleman Air Swipe

      I’ll agree to an extend jockstrap, something I don’t normally do, but you should show some degree of respect for the work of the Guinness Family and the Iveagh Trust. Diageo are abhorrent and a company I would have little time for, and sure Guinness took a stranglehold in a market many centuries ago, but they were a business and thats how it rolls. They have given back a lot though and you would do well to realise and acknowledge that.

      But Diageo, they can go f**k as can their “Arthurs Day”.

      The Storehouse is good mind you.

  2. LongLiveKildareRule

    These guys make a kick-ass IPA.

    What the hell was the issue Diageo had (can’t open link where I am)?

  3. Tommy

    In fairness, why are they getting sponsorship for a craft brewing awards event by Diageo? Still, great own goal from Diageo.

      1. Steo

        Any doubt that the name they read out was a Diageo “craft brewer”?

        Also, Arthur’s Day is meant to be homophonic to “Our Thursday”. That’s why it’s a moveable feast.

  4. Jay

    Update 16.30 on 9/5/12: Diageo have admitted guilt have now issued the following statement:

    ‘There was a serious misjudgement by Diageo staff at the awards dinner on Sunday evening in relation to the Bar Operator of the Year Award. We would like to apologise to BrewDog and to the British Institute of Innkeeping for this error of judgement.’

    1. Three Broadsheets to the Wind

      Hope someone gets fired. Glad that the story came to light.

    1. rapmachine no diggidy no doubt

      yes. diageo are absolute scum. ireland should really stop giving them such free publicity

  5. Escobar

    wait, did I miss something? they obviously didnt want BrewDog to win, but why them specifically? Weren’t all entries craft beers?
    *sits with perplexed look on face*

    1. Pierce

      I would hypothesise that they’d prefer a smaller craft brewer that posed less of a rising market threat to win.

    2. L

      Probably felt threatened. I didn’t know anything about that beer until this, but those guys have a kick-ass look to their product. I want to try one!

    1. woesinger

      That and Trashy Blonde.

      And any company that names a drink Tactical Nuclear Penguin gets a thumbs up from me.

      1. Rumpleforeskin

        5am Saint kicks ass too. They have their own pub in Camden in London if anyone is ever around that way.

  6. Pierce

    From what I’ve heard, Diageo are extremely aggressive about maintaining their dull, plodding control over Ireland’s pub taps.
    This doesn’t surprise me at all, and I’m glad it’s being publicised.

    1. I really should be working

      True they once had a policy that if you installed a competitors taps they would not install theirs!

      Ah the good old days when life was simple Guinness, Smithwicks or Harp

  7. Jimmythehead

    I used to like guinness until i tried ANY other dark craft ale, now i cant drink any of their piss water knowing how good ANY other beer is. For fans of real beer, Against The Grain on wexford st in Dublin is a must… also any McHughs off license sells real booze… Ghent in Belgium is the holy land… Amen

      1. seany_delight

        Also the Against the Grain sister pubs, Brewdock and The Black Sheep.

        Mulligans in Stoneybatter.

        Remonds Off License in Renalgh.

    1. Michael

      For those on the North Side- Against the Grain has two sister pubs; Black Sheep just on Capel Street close to Cineworld and Brew Dock by Busaras and Connolly station. Quality craft beers available at both.

      Porterhouse were real pioneers of selling this stuff in Ireland.

    2. woesinger

      Bowes on Fleet Street had a respectable range of Irish craft beers last time I was there (and whisk(e)ys too). Bull and Castle, up by Christchurch, too.

      Offys – Deveney’s in Rathmines do a great selection (and they’re good folk). Sweeney’s up in Phizzbro/Glasnevin. Carvill’s on Camden Street had a good selection a while back.

      1. Steo

        Martin’s on Fairview Strand also has a solid selection, as well. But you can’t really beat McHugh’s.

  8. Oisin

    The excise on craft beers was halved a couple of years ago. That’s why they’re only starting to happen here in Direland now.

  9. Michael

    The awards are for pubs from what I can read. Diageo supplies many pubs, but pubs like Brew Dog which specialize in craft beer would be competition and a threat to Diageo’s customer pubs.

    I remember when I was in college I was told by a bar man in TP Smiths that the reason they pulled Paulaner on tap was that the Diageo rep insisted that the bar stop buying from Dublin Brewing Company who were importing Paulaner at the time, otherwise Diageo would stop selling to them (TP Smiths). I’m pretty sure the competition authority stops that sort of thing now.

    1. Just Sayin

      I’d be surprised if they were actually that blatant. But they could easily offer discounts if sales targets are met. These sales targets would require most if not all taps to be pouring their product.

      Sell too much rival product and you have to pay more for your beer.

      1. Edalicious

        I have actually heard from staff in a couple of different pubs of Diageo reps being that blatant about it but not in a while now. The lack of choice in Irish pubs pisses me off no end, especially when it comes to cider. You can either have ridiculously sweet muck or even more ridiculously sweet muck!

        1. Cian

          If you think the lack of choice here is bad, try a standard English pub. One ale, one larger, one cider and Guinness is not unknown as the total draught range

          Sure, you get places with fantastic ranges but they’re HUGELY outnumbered.

      2. I really should be working

        Nope they are that blatant competition authority cannot do a whole lot if a company refuses to sell its product to an individual!

  10. seany_delight

    Boycott the Diageo brands. Simple. Ive been doing for years. your taste buds will thank you

  11. Fergd

    Same company that “supports responsible drinking” one day and launches an alcoholic lemonade the following day.
    St. James Gate is populated by English twats climbing the greasy corporate ladder and wishing they were back in London where the real decisions are made.

    1. Rob

      Interesting to see that one of the greens former advisers is now working for diageo as a corporate adviser. I always knew there was something off about the greens and now diageo…

  12. Kieran

    Can Somebody please list all the Diageo product including spirits on sale so we can boycot them. lets hit them where it hurts.!!!!

  13. Jockstrap

    If you like stout, try any of the Irish craft stout and porters. They are effing lovely, even from the bottle.

    Support small local breweries. It’s the way it used to be and it’s the way of the future – proof that small local business can produce a great product people want.

    1. El Cuno

      support every small local business that offers good service and fair value. Or else there will be nothing left but Tesco

  14. Simon

    “Ever Wonder Why Ireland Doesn’t Boast More Craft/Artisan Beers?”

    Where have you been the last year, there has been a huge surge in the amount of craft beer being produced in Ireland, and there’s more to come

  15. Mr B

    Check out this history of brewing in Dublin and you’ll soon see why Guinness left little or no small breweries remaining in whole of Ireland…

    but here are some great Irish breweries to check out…

    Franciscan Well
    8 degrees
    Carlow Brewing company
    Galway Hooker
    Galway Bay Brewery
    Trouble Brewing
    Big hand brewery

      1. Anon

        Hoppier beers take some getting used to. Not for everyone but still “undrinkable” is a bit harsh.

        1. Pedanto, the Hilarity Man

          It does have a bitter edge, but I like it a lot. Metalman in the Black Sheep is another good one in a similar style.

  16. Sido

    Interestingly, Tesco are in on the conspiracy to make sure that Ireland doesn’t get to taste good Beer. In Ireland they stock Diageo, Inbev and Heineken whilst promoting a few expensive UK brands just in case someone says they are in on a conspiracy.
    In the UK they have to offer their customers a selection.

      1. Sido

        Yeah Craft Beers – Implies Expense Something they can charge for.

        In the UK they offer good reasonably priced beer that isn’t produced by Diageo or InBev

  17. VOTE NO Frilly Keane

    I kinda sorta fancy becoming a brewer, or distiller, or fizzy wine maker.
    Somewhere along the line.

      1. VOTE NO Frilly Keane

        I’ll give it a miss Sid. Ta anyway.

        I’m dreaming about something a bit sunnier and boutique’ie than the Aldi on the Long Miler.

  18. Hah?

    Diageo are horrible wankers to deal with. My Mum runs a pub and one way to wind her up is to mention Diageo. She loses all reason. It’s fun to hear a 67 year old lady swear.

    1. Chris

      They stock that in the off license in a pub near me in Bray. I’ve had the Or golden ale and its pretty good.

  19. Barry

    One of my favourite things since I moved to Galway. 4 excellent artisan bars right on my doorstOMNOMNOMNOMNOM

    1. Steo

      Was in Oslo on the Prom in Salthill a couple of weeks ago and was very impressed. Galway’s certainly got their act together.

  20. Joe Donnelly

    Does anyone know of any pubs in newbridge, naas or kilcullen that stock any of the Irish craft beers or ales?

    1. KT

      I’m with you on that, its a great thing to get into. I made a stout over Christmas which was super. Such great value aswell when you break down the cost per pint, even if you use bottled water to make it.

  21. Nigel

    I hate beer. Is anyone doing nice ciders? Ever since I went to Spain years ago I’ve been on the lookout for cider similar to what we had there: lovely and light and not too sweet. All of the brand stuff is vile, except Kopparberg, which is nice enough, but way too sweet to drink very much of.

      1. fuzzix

        A fella in the Bull & Castle tried to claim Rekorderlig has “no chemicals in it”…

        “What, not even ethanol?!”

    1. dylad

      Double LL is nice Cider, from North County Dublin. I’ve only seen it in Galway though….but I’m sure you can get it in Dublin somewhere…

      1. Dunnster

        Cider: David Llewellyn does a couple of very good, tart, non-fizzy ciders (dry and very dry, as far as I recall)


        Available in farmers’ markets, including Temple Bar on a Saturday, and (surely a few) off-licences; it’s certainly in the excellent off-licence Drink Store on Manor Street, Stoneybatter (which also carries a wide range of craft beers).

  22. ElZilcho

    Thankfully, a lot of Dublin city centre bars are serving craft beers, at least in bottled form.

    Used to be a Heineken drinker, but I’d never go back to it now.

    German-style alcohol purity laws now! Death to the hangover!

  23. fill3rup

    Dr Johns and The Blind Pig in Limerick,serve fine craft Beers including Porterhouse Plain instead of Diageo Stout.. Nice to see a few bars popping up,giving customers a different choice of beers..

  24. Conor

    Brewdog are owned by Diago. Diago know no one will ever stop drinking their brands except pretentious hipsters (myself one of them) and now you can buy brewdog sticking it to da man while similtaneously lining his pockets.

    What would possibly appeal to hipsters more than buying the under brewdog’s beer?

  25. liamobeans@hotmail.com

    beer drinking will eventually give you piles. diageo want you to have piles.when you get them you wish you hadnt got them.

  26. Oh ffs

    Cool story bro.

    But ALL craft beer tastes of poncy pishwater.

    Just shut up and drink yer gargle, everyone.

  27. 2BiT

    Hilden Brewing Co. in the north do some nice stuff too…and an annual beer festival!
    Brewdog beers are the biz tho…

  28. The Beer Nut

    Not hearing a lot of love for Diageo.

    There’s now an app for finding beer from the Irish microbreweries. Look for “BeoirFinder” on iTunes/Google Play.

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