Has Ireland reached peak craft beer?


Consumption of beer in Ireland rose by 4 percent last year, the first such growth in nearly a decade, driven to a large degree by the recovery in the economy and to some degree by the rise in popularity of craft beers and the microbreweries who produce them.

But the country’s brewers say Government excise duty has risen by more than 40 percent over the past three years and they need some reduction in this burden from the Minister for Finance if growth in the sector is to be maintained.

The founder and chief executive of one of the country’s longest-established craft brewers, Seamus O’Hara of the Carlow Brewing Company joined Vincent Wall onBreakfast Business today to discuss the industry.

He accepted that with the number of groups looking for funding increases and concessions as the Government heads into its pre-election budget, it is unlikely that excise will be cut on beer - but added that it is important to "make the case."

While it might seem like there's a new brewery popping up somewhere every week - there are now over 50 in the country - Mr O'Hara says that there is still plenty of "head room" for growth.

In the Irish industry microbrewery sales make up only close to 1 percent of all beer sales. The corresponding figure in the US, where the industry is more mature, was 11 percent in 2014 according to its Brewers Association.

But Mr O'Hara warns that growth won't happen "automatically" and that we need to create an environment to encourage growth.

He adds that this is a "decentralised" industry, with operations of varying sizes all over the country - creating jobs in a number of sectors of the economy including agriculture, the service industry, and tourism.


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