Irish boasts of having ale recipes as ancient as 5,000 years. However, the number of breweries in Ireland fell to about 200 as the 19th century began. The decline continued and at the beginning of 20th century, there were only about 50 breweries in Dublin. By 2007, the Irish reportedly had only a small number of breweries, amounting to only about twelve. History tells that Ireland produced beer using only Irish ale recipes. They had to import the hops, which they needed to brew the beer that is not native to Ireland.
However, the first commercial brewery in Ireland started its businesses in 1696. The founder was John Smithwick, and the site was in the Franciscan abbey. But this brewery had been using a recipe for Irish ale since the 14th century. Edmond, the founder’s son, improved the business to a large exporting commercial venture by 1827. By the beginning of 19th century, along the bank of the River Liffey in Dublin, there were about 12 breweries. Of them, the largest two were those of Arthur Guinness and Anchor Brewery, which started its operation in 1840.
History also states that Arthur Guinness was called the ‘Freeman of Dublin’ because of his liberal attitude in using many recipes to produce beer at that time. In 1792, another giant of the brewery industry, Daniel O’Connel, opened Beamish & Crawford brewery in the city of Cork. As his business grew in 1831, he encouraged even his son to enter this field by helping him to purchase Dublin Phoenix Brewery located in Dublin.
The well-famous brand ‘O’Connell’s Ale’ derived from a particular recipe of Irish ale that came to exist from this father and son combination by 1931. Later, the son entered into politics. In 1856, yet another large brewery, Murphy’s Brewery started its business in Dublin. However, in the 20th century, the brewery industry in Ireland was almost all about Guinness. Others were to and fro buying and selling the remaining breweries.
In 1981, a new era for the brewery industry in Ireland began with the opening of Hilden Brewery. Lisburn in Northern Ireland saw the opening of Hilden Brewery and at the same period, in Blessington, another two close relatives, Oliver Hughes and Liam LaHart, made an attempt to produce craft brewing. They came to the fore with a new kiln that produces excellent brews using a fine recipe for Irish ale after the failure of their first attempt.
However, despite varied ancient recipes, the country historically produces somewhat reddish brews. Many experts accept that one can always find a recipe for Irish ale that is unique. The distinguished ale from the Irish includes the very famous brand of Murphy’s Irish Red, Beamish Red Ale, Smithwick’s, Caffrey’s Irish Ale, and Kilgubbin Red Ale.
The ingredients of Irish ale include barley, caramel or crystal malt. More often, roasted barley is the main ingredient with the usage of slight colouring. Some recipes name CaraMunich (Special B) as its principal component that is somewhat darker than that of Munich malt. A moderate amount of English hops is also a part of ancient ale recipes.