Beer Tourists On Tap


White Hag brewmaster Joe Kearns

The White Hag is celebrating its third birthday by holding an International Brewery Festival next week, on July 29 in their brewery in Ballymote, County Sligo.

Hag BrewMaster Joe Kearns has been an outspoken advocate of beer tourism and a sustainable taproom culture.

Joe writes:

Beer tourism is basically non-existent in Ireland. Sure, there are people trying to tour, and breweries trying to give tours, but the entire package is missing due to licensing laws.

Beer tourism could have a dramatic effect on the more rural parts of Ireland in several ways. For example, public transportation and infrastructure is severely lacking in these areas, so finding work as a young person who can’t afford to drive is nearly impossible.

Guided tours, taprooms, and visitor centers will enable breweries to hire more local, unskilled labour.

Also, there’s a knock-on effect of bringing new money into the local economy. With an influx of new people comes the need for more accommodation, food services, souvenir shops, etc.

Taprooms in the U.S. have literally transformed old, abandoned industrial and warehouse districts into thriving, modern cultural centers. They’ve created a new economy in areas where the economy had all but packed up and left.

But its not just about advocating for beer tourism. At the core of us hosting a beer festival is the theme we’ve built it around, bringing beer never poured here before to Ireland. And its not just about new beer. It’s important for breweries, like us, who have a high focus on export to bring other brewers ‘home’.

It enables a small, relatively unknown brewery, to enter a market attached to an established brewery, at a significantly lower, or zero cost. Working across borders also breeds and feeds innovation, the life blood of our fledgling industry.

Innovation in the brewing industry is happening everywhere, and Irish brewers are quickly catching up to the bigger markets.

The country is miles ahead of where it was compared to 2013 when I first arrived. There’s always room for more innovation, and we strive to lead by example.

We’re also very keen to bring that example and innovation to the masses, not just a small craft beer community. The festival is less about what it’s going to do for The White Hag, and more about what it’s going to do for beer fans and Sligo itself.

We’re bringing in beers and ciders and meads, along with the good people who make them, from Ireland, Europe, and North America, and they’re all products that have never been available in Ireland before.

I guess for us it’s about celebrating our birthday by celebrating the growth and diversity of this industry. This is the best industry in the world. It’s full of great people and great beers, and a lot of them will be here!

The White Hag Extravaganza

Notice: Cathal Redmond won last month’s Hagstravaganza’s competition.

14 thoughts on “Beer Tourists On Tap

  1. Lush

    My local off-licence here in rural France brings in White Hag just for me; lovely stuff (apart from the sours).

  2. Brother Barnabas

    Spot on. Some really great beers being produced here now. I’d say Ireland is right up there with the best anywhere else in the world now (from a late start). Wicklow Wolf, 8 Degrees, Galway Bay, Kinnegar and White Hag being my favourites (seeing as you’re all wondering).

  3. Dada@daMemes

    Craft Beer… Okay, I accept your challenge…

    I’ve hired a Hiace van. A white one. Me and seven eight ten mates, (Not including the driver) will be heading down or up your way, or both, depending on how it goes.
    The van is leaving from outside Abrakebabra in Tallaght on Saturday morning at 2pm. Bring your own cans and €2 for petrol money.
    This is going to be great.

    Serious question… Will there be any women apart from your Ma?

    1. Dada@daMemes

      I was only joking. Yer Ma is well able for at least twelve of us and we know how to queue. We have a multi-screen cinema here in Tallaght.
      This is not Drumcondra.

  4. Optimus Grime

    Whatever happened to the competition for tickets to this event? I never heard who won them

  5. Otis Blue

    He’s right of course.

    As an aside, is it compulsory for these young, hip, artisan food types to wear those caps?

  6. Kolmo

    Fair play to anyone who gets up and produces something, works hard, etc…but at the real risk of sounding like a right Buzzkinlington, literally, do we need to add to the already fairly toxic amount of alcohol related activities we do here in Ireland, it’s flogging booze, but with low-key marketing and a friendly smile. I also have no idea what taproom culture is.

  7. Murtles

    If White Hag is good enough for all them people in Halal Daddy, then it’s good enough for me especially that case I won off them last year here on Broadsheet (sorry Who’s Yer Daddy, I got it, drank it and can’t remember anything after that). Anyhoo missed this the last two years so ticket bought for this year.

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