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Last orders for Brethren Brown

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Last orders for Brethren Brown thumbnailPictured were Tanyard Lane bar staff Eileen Farrell and Kim Wallis sampling the newly brewed Brethren Brown from the Midlands Beer Collective

SOLD out before launch!
That's the happy story of Brethren Brown, an ale developed and brought to market by the Midlands Beer Club.
The club, which includes Tullamore members such as Tribune craft beer columnist Brendan Sewell, came together to celebrate their new brew in the Tanyard Lane public last Friday night.
They joined forces last year to form the Midlands Beer Collective and Brethren Brown, a hard-hitting American-style beer with an acohol content of 6.7 per cent, is their first offering.
The Midlands Beer Club began as a Facebook group back in 2014 after Clara man Dave Guilfoyle, head brewer at Banagher-based craft producer Bo Bristle at the time, hosted a beer night in Hugh Lynch's.
Enthusiastic homebrewers from Offaly, Laois, Westmeath, Longford and beyond began meeting regularly to share their tastes and swap stories about their experiences.
Long dominated by giant global names like Budweiser, Heineken, Carlsberg, and in Ireland, Guinness stout, beer began to take on a new hue in the 1990s.
"Craft beer 25 years ago in America, it just went crazy," explained Brendan Sewell.
"They went from 0.01 per cent of the market up to today's 21 per cent of the beer market in the US which is huge."
Meanwhile, back in Ireland, he says this country's traditional native beer, "the black stuff", still held sway.
But in the last ten years a craft beer industry has started to flourish.
"Homebrewing has taken a massive leap forward in quality of ingredients. It's huge, to the point where a lot of us who are homebrewers are brewing beer at least as good if not better than those in the craft beer bars," Brendan added.
"The quality is absolutely outstanding so then you realise that the natural progression is, if everyone else is doing it, why can't we?"
The result is Brethren Brown, an ale based on a recipe from South African-born champion brewer Roger Rotheroe.
"We tinkered with it. It's the same as cooking," said Brendan, who is a chef in the Bridge Centre restaurant.
"You get a recipe, you play around with it until you're happy with it, you brew it, you rebrew it and then you come to a point where you think this is how we'd like to present it."
In total, 11 people were involved in the Midlands Beer Collective project and they each invested about €500 each in the venture.
"We'vel all done it on the basis that we just want the experience. We're not looking for the profit," said Brendan.
"We just want to get a beer which we think is as good as commercial standard out there and we want to see what people think."
They used a Dublin-based brewer, Hope, Howth Junction, to manufacture 1,700 litres of Brethren, with 600 litres going into kegs for pubs and the remainder in cans.
"The beer is all over Ireland and we've sold all of the beer before we even launched it," Brendan revealed.
He admitted he was "extremely" happy that all of the beer was ordered.
"We thought the hardest part of the project was going to be distributing the beer but what we've realised is with 11 people, you have people living and connected in various different areas who know different people."
Different members worked on other aspects, from spreadsheets and labelling to finance and marketing.
"We've had two conference calls of 11 people in one call," he said.
They will sit down now and decide what to do next. "We've labelled this a project and we're doing nothing other than seeing what we see and whatever happens from it we'll go forward with. We're not putting ourselves under any kind of pressure to say we've started something," stated Brendan.
The club will only produce "one and done" beers - in other words - each one will be a once-off creation but Brendan cautions: "We don't need to brew another beer ever again if we don't choose to. It's going to be decided on how this is received."
He says there is something in Brethren Brown for everyone with hops and malt giving an interesting mix of flavours.
It is already an award-winning beer and because of its high alcohol content (one pint of Brethren is the equivalent of one-and-a-half pints of standard 4.3 per cent beer) its recommended retail price (RRP) at the tap is €6 but it's available in Tanyard Lane for €5. The RRP for the cans in the off-licences (440 ml) is €3.80.
"It's a beer to savour the flavour, everything about it is quality over quantity," Brendan summed up.

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