Sullivan’s: Brewing Back Kilkenny’s Craft Beer Heritage

Sullivan's: Brewing Back Kilkenny's Craft Beer Heritage

“The wall speaks for itself”, said Alan Quane, CEO of Sullivan’s Brewing Company, referring to the main one at the taproom, brewery and visitor centre that the company opened in Kilkenny last Tuesday, 30th of August. As he goes through the time lime, we hear about the Sullivan’s story, a name that’s been brought back by Paul Smithwick, chairman of the company.

If the surname sounds familiar it’s because Sullivan’s was acquired by Smithwick’s. Formerly the big rivals in town, things changed when an unfortunate member of the Sullivan’s family lost the business on a bet in 1918 which lead to the company’s demise. Soon after, their competitors took over, retaining the workforce, the brewery and the brand name.

“I guess, like Richard Sullivan before, we are doing the right thing and we are bringing brewing back to where it belongs”, said Quane. After Smithwick’s was bought by Diageo, the brewery was moved to Dublin in 2014, leaving Kilkenny without a commercial brewery for the first time in 800 years.

The Beer: Real Kilkenny

Ian Hamilton, Master Brewer at Sullivan’s explains that “Kilkenny is famous as a good brewing city because the water gets limestone, calcium and minerals that are good for beer”. As he reminded us, beer is about 95% water and with that covered, he goes on to explain that all the malt used is also from Kilkenny. “If water is the vehicle, malt is the body of beer and hops are the spice”, he says and he adds that on their aim for sustainability, all the spent grain goes to animal feeds in the region.

Regarding the yeast, he highlights that they use a traditional type, “non-modified, the one that’s been used for years”. The result is an authentic Kilkenny brew, which is currently available on tap at the visitor centre and will soon reach craft beers pubs across Ireland.

Our Tasting Experience

Auburn coloured and with a medium, creamy head that lasts. Aromas of toasted hazelnuts and cocoa are confirmed on the palate and accompanied by caramel and coffee. It’s rich, flavourful and with just the right balance between strong and easy to drink.

Sullivan's: Brewing Back Kilkenny's Craft Beer Heritage

A Celebration of Kilkenny Craft Beer

The event, which gathered a combination of media and personalities in the craft beer scene, was a true celebration of Kilkenny and its craft beer heritage.

The Sullivan’s core team; Ian Hamilton, Master Brewer;  Dan Smithwick, CFO, and Alan Quane CEO; combine over 75 years of experience in the industry, and although the doors just opened, their optimism have strong roots and Sullivan’s has everything a beer needs to become a great success story.

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Gaby ProfileGabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.

Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.

Gabriela Guédez Gabriela Guédez



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