We visited the Dingle peninsula on our previous trip to Ireland. It was snowed-capped and beautiful. We started along the Ring of Dingle but turned back on account of snow. Back then, it was pubs and B&Bs and little local shops. This trip added breweries and a distillery to the mix.
West Kerry Brewery is a tiny affair adjacent to the Bricks Pub – Tig Bhric in Irish. The Pub served a very nice pairing meal along with three of their drafts- a Golden, Red, and Winter Strong. The Golden had a nice bready malt character and a light lemon hops character. Susan felt it was slightly too hop-balanced to be a great representation of a Golden. Their Red was wonderfully malty- distinct hazelnut and molasses flavors were more characteristic of a nut brown than a red for us. The Winter Warmer was also delightful- fruit flavors dominated by plum and a good richness to the malt profile. They had a special elderberry/flower dark ale which was fine, but the elder character was too muted for our tastes. The pub music was quiet and, sadly, we were the only ones there. Sadly, they do not take credit cards, so tourists be forewarned.
Dingle Brewery is located within town, close enough to walk from our lodging. The day was beyond blustery, with the rain coming in horizontal from gale-force winds off the ocean, so we drove. Somewhat amazingly, they only had one beer on tap- their cream Irish lager. It was fine, but nothing remarkable. We hope they expand their offerings in the future.
Finally, the Dingle Distillery a little outside the west edge of town is only a few years old and contained in a drafty metal building. The tour was lengthy and a bit wandering, but contained a few interesting tidbits. Notably, that ‘pot still’ whiskey in Ireland refers to mixing malted grains with unmalted grains, using the enzymes from the malted grain to metabolize the starches in the unmalted grain. As with all new whiskey distilleries, they do not yet sell whiskey- that requires barrel ageing, which takes time. They do offer a gin- Susan liked it, I thought it tasted like soap- and a vodka, which was a bit harsh. Hopefully their whiskey, once complete, will be delicious.
Overall, we’re pleased Ireland seems to be trying to evolve its beer and distillery production to be more local and unique. We have to say, though, that the mega-companies just do SUCH a fine job in Ireland, it’s difficult to root as hard for the underdog as we do in the US.