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ISSUE 6 2018
FOCUS @IrishFoodMag
"We are in 22 countries and 51 per cent
of our volume this year is going to export,
which is great. We focused mainly in Europe."
The company will be attending this year's
SIAL with a view to growing its footprint
in the French market and further afield in
continental Europe. "We are in Metro and
have some good distribution, but I am looking
at a population of 60-70 million and a chart
that says France's craft market is 2 per cent
and I think something has to change. A
1,000 hectolitre makes a huge difference to a
company our size and in a market like France
it is irrelevant, so there has to be demand for
one of Ireland's biggest craft breweries that
has just won 19 craft beer awards."
Quality is key
Tom says the key to growing market share
is delivering consistent quality, innovation
to keep pace with consumers' growing
thirst for new flavours and experiences,
and educating consumers about the unique
qualities of craft brewing.
Water profiling
Rye River Brewing Company undertakes
several steps in its brewing process that
are designed to maintain consistent quality
across all its products. It all begins with
water profiling and, with 90 per cent of
beer consisting of water, Tom says this is a
fundamental element to consistency. "When I
talk about water profiling, we start by asking:
is it a hard-water profile or soft-water profile?
And we strip our water profile back to zero,
then we add salts and create a water profile
that should be matching that style of beer.
It means that, if your product is 90 per cent
water, we are starting with the right water."
Focus on tradtion
To that water profile, Rye River Brewing
Company adds hand-turned malt. "Our main
malt supplier is Warminister in the UK and
is one of only two remaining traditional
maltsters. By traditional I mean, they have
heated floors in old warehouses where they
germinate the malt. To turn the malt, they
strap on rake harnesses to their staff who
walk up and down the floor turning the
malt. It is a bit quirky, but these buildings are
hundreds of years old and what they have
engrained in their walls and their wood is the
microbiotics that bring something different.
The end result is better attenuation levels
throughout our beers, which tends to allow
for better quality in terms of taste and flavour."
Tom says this gives the beers, especially in the
malt-forward beers, a soft texture. "That's part
of the reason we are winning more awards."
Special selection
The third element is its use of fresh farmed
hops, which are specially selected for the
company and transported in a cold-container
storage to preserve quality. "Hops are the
key ingredient in craft beer, it's what gives
the floral body. We have gone out of our way
to make sure we maintain the hop at its
optimum level."
Embrace the haze
Another feature of the company's beers it
that they are unfiltered. "After going through
the effort of buying all these expensive
hops and younger hops., there's no point
taking out the good with the bad. What
you do with beer is that you take out yeast
and hops element. When you filter, you can
differentiate in the micron the thickness
of the filter to allow you leave in more or
less. But it is like a sieve and you are taking
out good and bad. With a centrifuge you
are spinning that beer at high revolution
and depending on the speed you go at, it
releases or retains certain character. We are
in full control of our beers, so a lot of our
beers are hazy. They are not clear, they are
IPAs, and you have to bring the consumer
on a journey where they understand, it's
hazy compared to a traditional, mainstream
lager that you can see your hand through,
but, just because it's hazy doesn't mean it
has gone bad, we have left a lot of body
in the character. With our Miami J, which
was our second release under the Rye
River brand, we called out in the tag line:
Embrace the haze. So, we are educating
along the way. That centrifuge is integral to
our success at this stage. Why? Because it
gives our beers much more flavour."
Small batch
Tom says another strength is that the
company only brews in 2,5000-litre batches.
"Every brew we do, we have a brewer and
assistant brewer on shift. We brew in eight-
hour shifts five days a week. It means the
brewer has to pick up every 25kg bag of malt
that comes from Warminister and he can
sense when he is pouring it and he is touching
and feeling every bit of the process. It's a very
artisanal way of brewing." Brewing in small
batches is a benefit, Tom says, because it gives
the company full control of quality. "Because
it is small batches, it is less likely to go wrong,
and it goes back to my message consistent
"They are four of the big things that
differentiate our brand. The fifth is passion
and people. We have come through a start-up
phase that brought us challenges and we
came out the other end."
Tom Cronin, co-founder and managing
director of Rye River Brewing Company.