We did a sour beer tasting in the company of Seamus Redmond from Yellowbelly Beer last month. ‘Could something so sour be so sweet?’ we asked ourselves. Whilst pondering this question, we asked Seamus some questions too.
You’ve brewed over 100 beers to date. Does demand dictate what you keep brewing or what criteria do you employ? Are we right to assume the brewpub you guys own – Simon Lambert & Sons – is the taste testing ground?
At the last count, YellowBelly Beer has now brewed over 200 different beers since the opening of the brewery in 2015. From the beginning, we’ve never brewed what demand dictated. We’ve always either brewed a) beer we want to drink, b) something that would innovative or new or c) “THAT BEER NAME IS SO GOOD, LET’S BREW A BEER FOR IT”. So it’s a good thing we like drinking a lot of great beer, enjoy using interesting ingredients and have the best ever Whats-App group for beer names.
We currently brew our Lager, Citra Pale Ale and ‘Castaway’ Passionfruit Sour regularly, but release a new limited edition 330ml can once a month and a new keg beer every week. Having the brewpub is great because we get instant feedback on the beer, and get to talk to our customers daily. It also helps that we have somewhere close to get a sneaky pint in after work!
How do you compete with, or do you choose to side-step, the dominant industry players? What secret weapons do you deploy when marketing spends are incomparable?
Soon, we’ll have millions to spend on the best TV, radio and outdoor advertising campaigns the world has ever seen. Until then, we’ll focus on digital marketing for brand awareness, using engaging content from our Creative Director Paul Reck.
On limited budgets we have produced a comic book series, a video game (Hop Rocket – check it out on our website), hundreds of illustrations across products and POS materials for our on/off-trade customers. All these items combined make YellowBelly unique and have helped create the brand we are today. We also produce great beer, which the dominant industry players tend to ignore.
You’ve been brewing a number of sour beers of late such as ‘Castaway’ Passionfruit Sour. What is the reaction and market for these like?
We [deleted curse word] love sour beers. Ireland’s craft beer drinkers are now pretty developed thanks to the availability of good beer. Back in 2016 when we released ‘Castaway’ first, we were amongst the first to produce a sour – and beer drinkers loved it. In 2017, there’s a lot of Irish breweries producing great sour beers and importers are bringing in sour offerings from international brands. The market has completely changed again, and has developed into a new realm, where your Irish red ales, stouts and blondes are sitting on the back burner, while sours, barrel-aged beauties and unique styles pique Irish drinkers interests.
Suppose this would be a good time to announce that we are making ‘Castaway’ Passionfruit sour part of our Core Range? Making it available all year round on tap and in off-licences? Yeah. Phew. Our sales guys said we would be in trouble if we didn’t mention it.
Your favourite Irish and international craft beer (outside your own range)?
Fave Irish – Whiplash and Trouble Brewing’s new cans are class. Go get some.
Fave International – Beavertown, Cloudwater and Tiny Rebel in equal measures. Love those guys.
Your distinctive packaging is by local illustrator Paul Reck. What was your brief?
2015: Us: “Hey Paul, will you create us an awesome brand character and logo?”
Paul: “Sure thing”.
2016: Us: “Hey Paul, when you are finished on set at Game of Thrones, will you create some awesome illustrations for our bottle labels?”
Paul: “Sure thing.”
2017: Us: “Hey Paul, will…”
Paul: “Yeah, yeah, I got it… The new cans are designed and illustrated, the new comic book is ready, I have new tshirts for the webstore, new video game is almost complete, and I have 3D printed a new YellowBelly Helicopter for deliveries.”
Us: “Thanks Paul.”