Brehon Brewhouse was established in 2013 on the McMahon family farm in Co. Monaghan, Ireland. We speak to founder Seamus McMahon about the idea to start the brewery, the craft scene in Monaghan and, of course, beer…
First things first, what inspired you to start Brehon Brewhouse? Where did the idea come from?
We setup Brehon Brewhouse as an add-on enterprise on our existing Dairy farm. We started in a converted machinery and calf shed 5 years ago. We had seen the potential of the craft beer industry developing in the major cities Dublin, Cork and Galway. There were no craft breweries in Monaghan, Cavan or Louth at the time so we identified a niche and went with it.
What is the Brehon Brewhouse philosophy around brewing? What do you aim to achieve with your beers?
Our philosophy around our brewery would have to be a creative, distinctive range of beers with character in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. We truly are Irish beer crafted by hand. Our aim is to reach as many people with our range of beers as possible. We want people to enjoy our beers and hopefully, appreciate the efforts we go to producing them.
When developing a new recipe, where do you start? With a target flavour, a style you would like to try?
When developing a new beer we sit down as a team. We discuss what we believe would be unique in both flavour and style for our new special. We try to find something that ties to the locality or draws from the farm. Flavours style and ingredients all are tied in to the name and the label; we then explain via a blurb on labels the story and thinking that had gone into the new beer.
A lot of your beers are bottle conditioned, why did you opt for this method of carbonation?
Bottle conditioning our beers gave us a USP. It works for small batches and really gives a distinctive flavour and feel to the beers. At the time of startup, we bottled by hand so carbonation by bottle conditioning was essential. Now with our larger new brewery, we still semi-carbonate in tank before filtering. We top up in bright tank with forced carbonation.
Your beers, their names and your brand are unmistakably Irish, why is this so important to you?
Brehon Brewhouse is unique in as far as we are the only brewery based on a working dairy farm in the country. We are very rural based. We are proud of our location and our setting. We are committed to growing the business on our farm. We have taken names from our locality. An example would be our Irish Red Ale ,Killanny Red. Killanny is our Parish where I grew up. I played Gaelic Football for the local team Killanny Gearldines. The team colour is red jersey and black togs. Our bottle label is red and cap is black.
The name Brehon comes from the ancient law of Ireland: “Brehon Law”. On top of small hills, Brehons who were judges dispensed there judgements over their clans. Now from such hills comes Brehon Brewhouse. We take our inspiration from the local area and have named our beers after local place names and traditions. Patrick Kavanagh was a renowned local poet. One of his most famous poems “O Stony Grey Soil of Monaghan “ inspired the naming of our IPA Stony Grey and our Stout Shanco Dubh.
And finally, how is the craft beer scene in Monaghan?
The craft beer scene in Monaghan is quite patchy. Trends usually arrive in Monaghan through the student routes from the university cities. The average drinking punter is quite conservative and is hard to move them from their regular tipple.
We’re sure Seamus and Brehon Brewhouse will convert the county to craft with their stunning range of Irish ales in no time. Be sure to let us know what you think of their beers…