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  • News

The pub with its own beer

Sunday, 29th June, 2014 11:59pm
The pub with its own beer

By Catherine Ketch

WE’VE all heard of the pub with no beer but now we have the pub with its own beer.

Publican Don O’Leary of the Mills Inn in Baile Bhúirne is about to launch his very own brand of beer. Stag Bán, a pale ale described as a very refreshing, tasty beer comes from Ireland’s newest brewery 9 White Deer, based in the Múscraí Gaeltacht village.

Don has partnered with brewer and engineer Gordon Lucey who married a Baile Bhúirne woman and lives nearby. The couple are expecting another baby on Thursday – the day of the launch.

The new brewery’s name comes from the story of St Gobnait, patron saint of the Baile Bhúirne. She chose her site in the 7th century following a revelation that she would set up her convent where she would see nine white deer.

‘We ran a competition online and we had 900 replies for a name for the brewery. The name came back a few times so we decided to go with it,’ Don said. ‘It’s a great local story,’ said Don and his wife’s name is Gobnait, which no doubt clinched it.

When Don mentioned the idea a couple of years ago he was pointed to Gordon’s door. A merchant navy engineer, Gordon later studied brewing, as has Don. Don drives the sales, Gordon drives production. ‘But we’re all getting our hands dirty,’ says Don.

A tour of the brewery starts at the mash ton, where the ground barley is made into a hot porridge mix. It’s all Munster barley and mostly from Cork, he says. About an hour draws the sweet worth off the barley, before it is transferred to the kettle where it is steam boiled with different hop types added at different stages, giving the beer its distinct flavours, smells and bitterness. The process is chemical-free from start to finish.

It is chilled in vats before fermentation with yeast. ‘You then draw your yeast off and the beer is left to condition for another three weeks until it clears naturally,’ Don explains. Finally it is carbonated before it goes to the bottling line or the keg room. The entire process takes from 25 days to a month, depending on the beer.

The brewery represents an investment of €300,000, half of which was provided by Leader funding and the premises is rented from Udarás.

9 White Deer also does contract brewing and bottling for other companies availing of their top-of-the-line system, some of which had moved their bottling to the UK.

‘Craft beer is really growing in Ireland and we want to be part of that revolution. I’d say the day will come when every major town will have one,’ says Don. Hand made in small batches, he says the taste comes through. ‘Even the staunch Guinness drinker is up to trying it,’ he says.

The kegs will be established in the Cork Kerry region first, while the bottles will go far and wide.

‘We’re delighted with the way it has worked out. We have two years planning and work gone into it,’ he said.

The first pints will be pulled on Thursday afternoon at the brewery from 4-6pm, in the company of Jon Kenny of D’Unbelievables, a music session, food and of course, beer.

‘So if anyone else ever accuses me of not being able to organise a pi**-up in a brewery, well I’ll say, ‘I did’. We have that one chalked down anyway,’ laughs Don.

Rascals Brewery in Rathcoole in Co Dublin also has a West Cork connection run by Cathal O’Donoghue from Skibbereen and Emma Devlin, from Malin, Co. Donegal.


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