A record 15,000 people are expected to attend the Irish Craft Beer festival in Dublin this week to discover new tastes in beer and cider.
There were just 13 breweries offering their tasty tipples to 3,000 people who attended the first festival in 2011 — this year, the number of craft beer exhibitors has quadrupled for the three-day event at the RDS.
Seamus O’Hara said the biggest challenge now for the craft beer industry was meeting demand.
“From a consumer service point of view, you don’t want suppliers to run out of the product and these days that is one of the biggest challenges for craft beer makers,” said the founder and chief executive of the Carlow Brewing Company, also known as O’Hara’s Brewery.
Pictured at the Irish Craft Beer Festival 2015 was Shane Denvir, Andrew Mannion and Jack Coady.
Mr O’Hara, who is also chair of the Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland, said it was a uniquely consumer-driven market. “It is made up of lots of small breweries and none of them have big budgets to market or advertise their product.
“Consumers want more interesting and tasty beers. They are voting with their feet at the festival and with their general spend on beers.”
Mr O’Hara said another challenge was growing the business — recruiting extra people, finding more building space and buying more equipment.
Jessica Kickham and Tracey Murphy from Wexford at the Irish Craft Beer Festival at the RDS.
The number of microbreweries in production is expected to have increased by 22 to 58 by year end, with the market share reaching 2% in 2015 and 3.3% in 2016.
An Irish Craft Beer Economic Impact report shows the turnover of craft beer producers last year reached €23m, with a projected €39.6m this year. But with around five breweries per million population in 2013, Ireland has half the rate of the US, a third that of Denmark and less than one quarter of Britain’s share.
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