Adventures of a Trombonist

The ramblings of a brewing mad, sports nut & professional Trombonist

Oileán Éadaigh West Mayo Brewery

Every brewery needs a story. It conjures up what the brewery is about, what might lie in wait for the drinker. It heightens anticipation. It creates a mystique.

A brewery based in the west of Ireland certainly does all of these things but a brewery in the heart of rural Ireland captures the imagination.MayoAug13 104

After spending a few days in Westport, I stumbled across a pub with some ‘local craft beer’ on draught.  The pub in question was the Poter House on Bridge Street in the middle of Westport town.

I sat down with my paper and ordered what the barman called a “red ale”. A pint Clew Bay Sunset sat on the bar. A beer with a story in the name. It was malty and sweet on the nose, floral and fruity. A medium body supported with a spicy hop finish mixed with  dark summer fruits. Well balanced. A real easy drinker.

MayoAug13 093I then tried the “pale” as the barman called it. Clifford’s Connaught Champion. Again a story in a name.This pale ale does not fall into the trap of every other start up brewery. It is not an APA. It is a wonderful English style summer bitter.Low level biscuit aroma with prominent floral earthy British hops. The  flavour is dominated by those spicy, earthy British hops. There is a honey sweetness from the malt that balances the hop bitterness very well and gives it a solid backbone. Extremely drinkable.

It had occurred to me that there must once have been a brewery in Westport at some stage and earlier that day I took a trip to the library where they confirmed that there  was once two breweries but they were long gone. I figured this was the first new brewery in Mayo for at least 100 years.

Intrigued by both beers I managed to get some signal on my phone for the first time in days so I visited the West Mayo Brewery website. I then took the only course of action I could think of: I emailed Iain and asked could I pop out and see him before I left for Dublin. Within 15 minutes he was back onto me and later that day my wife and I headed into the Mayo countryside.MayoAug13 110

MayoAug13 100As Dubs we get a little anxious when we meet grass growing in the middle of the road. Although it was only ten minutes off the N59 it may as well have been an hour as Hill Top Farm is nestled in the rolling hills of Mayo. We rolled into the driveway of a stone built bungalow after gunning it up a steep hill. A modern grey building ran the length of the garden behind the house. After knocking on the front door Iain beckoned us down to the brewery. He rolled the shutters back and gave us the tour of his shiny 5 barrel brew house.MayoAug13 117

We talked about the difficulties and challenges he and his wife Cathrine faced to get to this point. Five years of planning and persistence has paid off. With a background in IT Iain decided to turn his hobby of homebrewing into a business. He undertook accredited courses in the U.K to bring his knowledge to a professional level. While Iain brews, Cathrine does the admin and with their goal of supplying local beer to local pubs they are making a great team.

MayoAug13 098Originally from the U.K Iain grew up with the traditional bitters and ales and the West Mayo Brewery beers reflect this. Well crafted tasty beers served to a local market. I think he is on to something. He is not alone. White Gypsy do something similar but they have a wider distribution network and they also bottle. Iain is going local only. Local beer for the local town. Bold but brilliant. I wish them all the best. If out West make a point of seeking his beers out. You will not be disappointed.

West Mayo Brewery on Facebook and website.

 

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This entry was posted on February 15, 2014 by in Craft breweries and tagged , , , , , .
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