'It was like the birth of one of my children all over again' - Home brewing is a hip hobby
Home brewing is a hip hobby, writes Sharon Diviney
"It was amazing. Like the birth of one of my children all over again." Amateur beer maker Gerry Fallon's wife, Eileen, might not share his level of enthusiasm, but for Gerry the pouring of his first craft blonde beer was a momentous occasion.
The retired father-of-two (pictured) had very little home brewing experience prior to his success with the blonde beer. Now the whole family - Gerry, Eileen and sons Shane and Gerard - are involved, and his extended family later enjoyed the fruits of that labour: a yield of 40 frothy pints. Gerry used a Coopers Canadian Blonde kit, which produced a pale straw-coloured beer with crisp malt aromas and hints of spicy hops. Tempting indeed, and all made without any additives or preservatives. "It wasn't difficult,' says Gerry modestly. "I've made a pilsner and a red wine too. You can get beers that you can do in seven days."
Gerry's first kit was purchased from an online business, homebrew.ie, based near his home outside Loughrea in Co Galway. Gerry has since become good friends with the website owner, Mick Folan. Mick set up homebrew.ie in 2015. "Retail is my background," he says. "But as I'm nearing retirement age, I was looking for a business that was workable from home, a niche business, when I thought of home brewing. There weren't too many people at it. A lot of customers are looking for starter kits to try to get into it as a hobby. If they like it, they can reorder beer kits, lager kits, wine kits."
Cork mother-of-two Caroline Hennessy, who wrote Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider with friend Kristin Jensen, sounds a light-hearted note of warning. "I always say to beginner brewers, and specifically the partners of brewers: be careful. It's a slippery slope. My partner was a home brewer in New Zealand, which is how I got interested in the home brewing scene. Then he went off and set up his own brewery [Eight Degrees in Cork]. I started to discover different beer styles... I realised all along that I'd been drinking lager. It was literally an education."