The brews brothers!
WEXFORD brothers Simon and Nicky Lambert are planning to open a brewery in the basement of their 200-year-old South Main Street pub.
A change-of-use application has been submitted to Wexford District Council seeking permission for a new micro brewing facility on the premises.
A decision is expected soon on the project, which has been been an ambition of the pair for a number of years.
Simon and Nicky's interest in craft beers led to them attending a brewing course in Manchester back in 1999.
But the discovery of structural problems in the pub, which was originally built in 1780, put their grand plan on the back burner.
The premises was re-built, re-inforced and renovated and a restaurant kitchen developed upstairs.
The necessary distraction kept the brothers otherwise engaged, but they continued researching the brewery idea.
In tandem with the planning request, they have applied to the Revenue's Customs and Excise Serivce for a manufacturing licence.
All going well, a pilot brewing system is poised to begin production within the next two months, producing 300 litres (approx 600 pints) of draft beer a week. The aim is to launch Wexford's new beer to an international audience during the Opera Festival.
Simon's Place, which was previously run by the brothers' late father Simon, is a popular haunt with visiting festival staff and opera-goers, although everyone will have to get used to a new name as the premises will, in future, be called The Simon Lambert and Sons Pub and Brewery.
Two beers will be produced in the beginning: an American-style pale ale and a German-style Kolsch.
But the brand name is being kept a closely guarded secret for the time being, for patent reasons.
A fully-automated brew house will be installed early next year, producing 3,600 litres or 7,200 bottles a week.
Barman Danny Trappe has been appointed head brewer while the new sales and marketing manager is Helmut Burger-Smit.
Nicky and Danny are both studying for a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Distilling and Brewing in England.
The course is run by Skillnet – Taste 4 Success, a Government initiative supporting new opportunities in the food, seafood and drinks industries.
The adjective 'micro' might apply to the brewery but Simon and Nicky have big plans for the project and their long-range sights are set on the national and European export markets.
Nicky sees the craft beer trend, already in full swing in the UK and the US, as an opportunity for pubs to diversify.
'People want something new. They want more taste and flavour.'
'With the different changes that have taken place like the smoking ban and tighter drink driving legislation, pubs need to re-invent themselves,' he said. 'You need to offer people something else.'
County Wexford was once home to several breweries, which have long closed down, including Wickham's of Wexford town.
Now, the Lambert brothers and others are reviving the tradition in an enterprising move that is giving a new generation of Wexford beer drinkers an extra reason to say 'Cheers'.