Western Herd

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After a wee adjustment of the GPS I finally find it, the Western Herd Brewing HQ. Standing proud at the top of a small hill nestled in the green ungelating landscape of kilmaley a few miles from Ennis. The Brewhouse once a hay shed now stands a proud white in its green surroundings. Outside I’m greeted by Adam the head brewer and we are shortly joined by Maeve one of the co founders of Western Herd. The other founder is her brother Michael .
Western Herd was born out of the couples growing interest in craft beer and the rapid growth of the industry in ireland. The Brewhouse itself was converted from an old hay shed that has been on family land for generations with old family cottages dotted around the nearby landscape. 
It’s a fine spring day as we stand and talk beer and the new shiny stainless steel is catching the sun nicely through the sizeable barn doors. While the brewery is a modest size it looks great in its rustic setting. A lot of work has been done, fresh paint applied, concrete poured, a new grain store built. I’m sure the ruarl setting brought it’s fair share of challenges but while it’s a bit isolated it’s a beautiful setting to work in . And it hasn’t deterred the visitors, just the day before my visit a small tour bus full of American beer fans came for the first official tour of Western Herd.
The company was born out of opportunity and timing. The building the brewery now sits in was lying empty while the craft beer industry in Ireland is on a massive rise. Maeve and Michael had the location and the interest so they decided to strike while the iron was hot and bring county Clare into the craft beer revolution

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After much research and a brewing course it was decided the best plan of action was to get a pro brewer in to over see production . Adam was at a cross roads in his own brewing career in the U.S when he came across the opportunity to head up operations at Western Herd and so he packed his bags and headed to the other side of the Atlantic to join in on the craft beer movement in Ireland.

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The decision to bring in Adam is paying off with the quality of the beer. With alot of new brewery’s in Ireland the first few beers just seem a bit rushed but Western Herd hit the ground running with their first releases. The core range is made up of a very decent IPA, a Belgian style Wit beer, a Pale Ale and my personal favourite the Red Ale. 
There is a trend building of America brewers working in Ireland. Kinnagar, White hag and more recently Galway Bay have just appointed an American head brewer. Like those 3 Western Herd will be hoping to utilise Adams skill and knowledge he is bringing from the U.S and so far so good.

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From talking to the team at W.H you realise a lot of work and preparation has been done before the beers were released from the logo to label design everything has been carefully though about. Even the website is being delayed until they’re 100% happy. 
Along with the hard work of building Western Herd the smart move was made to lease a bar “Mchughs” in Ennis where they could showcase their beers and also spread the word of craft beer to the people of Ennis and Clare. What better way to showcase your wares to new customers. So far the interest and reception has been great and not just in their core range. One of brews, such as a 6%Black IPA, have gone down a storm with Western herds new followers. Who would have thought beer drinkers of Ennis would be polishing off a keg of Black IPA in 1 weekend!

The ground work for new brews are well underway, head brewer Adam has no shortage of ideas. Interesting times lie ahead for the beer lovers of Clare and North Munster.

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Eight degrees the next chapter

After 5 years and 40 beers 8degrees are again getting ready to be one of the brewery’s leading the vanguard in Irish independent brewing.
The origin story of Eight degrees is well known at this stage.Two expats a Kiwi and Aussi end up living in the Cork country side they long for the beers they have left behind and with alot of sweat, blood and brewing 8degrees is born.
The beers have come thick and fast 40 and counting with a strong leaning on IPAs. And it’s been a busy last few years with demand growing year on year it’s now time to expand their operation and like there beers Eight degrees are going big with an upgrade that will see them going from 15hl to 60hl.
The purchase of the brewery itself was a stressful affair with the deal coming together at the same weekend of the biggest beer festival in ireland the pressure was on to get the deal done by flying out to Mauritius so they could inspect the German built Kasbah Schulz System for themselves. They where delighted with what they saw and moved fast too secure the deal even convincing there bank to work over the weekend to get the purchase done in time.

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As Scott shows me around the maze of stainless steel tubing you sense he his keen to get started on assembling this giant puzzle his past life as an engineer will be called into action once again.
This is a huge undertaking and Eight degrees are doing it all off there own back. There drive to make quality beers is matched by there desire to maintain there status as an independent brewery and the new upgrade will insure this happens as the business grows and the new brewery itself will be a new proud landmark for Mitchelstown.

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This new chapter for Eight degrees is a big undertaken and the fruits of the venture won’t be seen for some time yet. The new facility is a stones throw from the current brewery which has one major positive the water. Scott explains what a bonus this is as the unusually Soft water of Mitchelstown lends Itself well to the hop forward beers of Eight degrees this combined with the new brewing system will kick start a new chapter. The system allows for far more control options like decoction mashes and pinpoint temperature control are features that will increase the creative scope for theses already prolific brewers.
The new facility is going to take some time to get up and running but in the mean time we have an impressive back catalogue to dive into and plenty of new brews to look forward too.

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