Kilkenny’s newest pub, expected to open on Parliament Street in less than a fortnight, will be keeping the flavour as local as possible, with a huge range of craft beers brewed nearby.
It’s a unique idea for this part of the world – a pub that will offer soley indigenous and craft beers, bypassing the major drinks companies and their global brands. Establishments in Dublin such as The Porterhouse and The Brew Dock are already capitalising on the steady increase in people who want something truly local or something a bit different, and Kilkenny will now have the option also.
It was once The Widow McGraths, it was Whispers lap-dancing club, it was Dignity gay bar, and most recently, it was simply ‘Duke’s’. In its new incarnation, it will be ‘Brewery Corner’.
The building has a chequered past that has at times created controversy, but the tasteful and professional approach from the new management bodes well. Renovations are now in the finishing stages on the premises, where a dedicated team has been in situ for three weeks, painting and furnishing.
Manager Stephen Foster is eagerly looking forward to pulling the first pint. He is also adamant that, unlike the building’s previous tenants, Brewery Corner is here to stay – to become a well-established part of the city’s rich pub heritage.
The company behind it is the family-owned Carlow Brewing Company, well known for its popular O’ Hara brand. Seamus O’ Hara met Stephen last November, and right from the off it was clear that they shared a mutual vision. Kilkenny, known for its vibrant pub scene as well as being the site of Ireland’s oldest brewery, just seemed like the logical place.
And, a fortnight before its doors are to open, it has already piqued the interest of a few locals. A Facebook page established last week has over 160 likes already.
“Kilkenny is the best location for this,” Stephen says.
“As well as being affordable, there is a big market for it here, both local and tourist. People often come in to pubs here and ask ‘what local beers do you have?’ And they might be offered Smithwicks or Guinness, but if they don’t like those, they’re having to go for a foreign beer.”
There will be up to 13 Irish craft beers on tap, including O’ Hara’s (Carlow), Eight Degrees (Ballyhoura) Dungarvan and Metalman (Waterford) and Trouble Brewing (Kildare). There will also be around 50 bottled options with varying origins.
“The whole craft industry is very close-knit,” says Stephen.
“It’s a community, and the everyone helps each other out a bit.”
As well as Stephen, it’s expected that the place will employ three or four other staff, including chefs, once it opens its doors. It is positive news for both the on-trade and the city, which has seen a number of pubs close in recent times.
Just next door, Nixon-on-the-Watergate shut its doors last November, while the Rock Bar, the Black Cat and Troysgate House have all done likewise in recent months. Gerry Rafter, president of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) and owner of Rafter Dempsey’s, Kilkenny has expressed serious concern.
But the Carlow Brewing Company, which was founded in 1996, has gone from strength to strengt, with an upsurge in public interest in craft beers. The company has a number of different products, on sale in over 20 countries worldwide.