Laois-grown hops bring flavour to new beer

Laois-based Ballykilcavan Brewing Company will release a one-off batch of beer today (Saturday, November 4). It is made from hops sourced exclusively from the hop garden on the Walsh-Kemmis farm near Stradbally.

David Walsh-Kemmis, who co-founded the company with his wife Lisa, said: “Along with our barley, we have been growing hops for a couple of years, and they produced a really good crop this year. We saved them so that we could only use hops grown on the farm in this one beer.

“We recruited a team of interested people on Facebook and got them in for a day’s hop picking. We were then able to brew a beer where all the barley and all the hops were grown right here on the farm,” said Walsh-Kemmis.

The beer will be launched in Egan’s off-licence in Portlaoise.

Manager, Mary Delahunty, said: “Customers are really starting to look for locally-brewed beers made from locally-sourced ingredients, so this has generated a lot of interest before it is even in the shop.”

Only 960 bottles of the beer are going on sale, but Walsh-Kemmis hopes to expand this in future years. “We are doubling the size of our hop garden, so with a bit of luck and some kind weather, we should be able to make two batches next year.

Picking the hops is a really labour-intensive process, but by getting a team in to help with the picking, it turned into a fun day out, so we are going to make it into an annual event.

Ballykilcavan Brewing Company was founded last year, with the aim of making high-quality beers from the award-winning barley grown on the Walsh-Kemmis 378-year-old farm.

Also Read: Stradbally farmer launches Ballykilcavan beer brand

Six batches of ‘Bin Bawn’ pale ale have been produced to date. All the beers only use barley grown on the farm. This latest batch ‘Fresh Hopped Pale Ale’ also uses hops grown there.

The beer is brewed in Lock 13 in Sallins, but the Walsh-Kemmis’ have full planning permission for an on-farm brewery and will be starting work on it later this month.

“We grew over 600t of malting barley this year, and we will use about 10t of them in the brewery.

Once we are brewing on-farm, that will scale up, but we will still only be using about 50t of barley in a few years.

Yields this year, Walsh-Kemmis said, were good, and the barley met all quality specifications, so he is hoping to break even on production. His company was a national finalist in the Bank of Ireland Start-Up Awards, 2017.

Other stockists of the beer include: O’Gormans, Kilminchy, Portlaoise; O’Briens and Next Door, Athy; Carpenters, Carlow; and The Wine Centre, Kilkenny. Retail price will vary between €3.50 and €3.80.