Something big is ‘brewing’ in Clonakilty

Posted on: 8th November, 2016

Category: Food & Wine

Contributor: Mary O'Brien

Frank Fredriksen talks to Mary O’Brien about the brewing process at Clonakilty Brewing Company

The tradition of brewing and drinking beer goes back a long way in Norway. From the Viking era up until two hundred years ago every farm in Norway had a brewhouse. However with the Industrial age came mass production of beer and these customs dwindled.

In recent years, a new generation of Norwegians have revived the old brewing traditions. Former accountant, beer lover and creative brewer Frank Fredriksen is part of this craft beer revolution.

Fortunately for the town of Clonakilty in West Cork, Frank moved here from Norway with his family in 2013. As tends to happen in West Cork, a conversation between Frank and local beer enthusiasts and entrepreneurs Don Collins and Joan Harrington, resulted in the start up of a new business venture and micro-brewery in the town of Clonakilty.

Inspired by recipes from Norway’s long tradition of brewing and fortuitously Clonakilty’s history as a brewery town, Clonakilty Brewing Company was born.

Two years of brewing, tasting and refining recipes later and after securing a premises on the outskirts of Clonakilty with its own well of pure spring water, suitable to house the micro-brewery, the company launched its first two beers, Tojo American Pale Ale (5.5% abv) and Smuggler Irish Porter (6% abv), at the end of the summer.

Selling out at the Clonakilty International Guitar Festival in September, the main challenge for the brewery since then has been producing enough beer to meet demand locally.

“We’re brewing twice a week, producing 1000 bottles a brew, at the moment,” says Frank “but the aim is to increase brewing to four or five days a week.

“We’re doing everything ourselves now – brewing, bottling, labelling and distributing – so it’s very labour intensive at the moment,” he explains.

At present, Frank has an assistant brewer, Jim Shannon, and Joan steps in to help out when needed.

“We have the tanks, we just need to convert them into fermenters to make more beer,” says Frank.

Seasonal beers are very popular in Norway with beers specially brewed for the holidays and Frank would love to start this tradition at the Clonakilty Brewing Company. “Add some spices for Christmas, perhaps introduce flavours of orange and chocolate at Easter. In Norway at Easter time, we have a tradition that when you go skiing in the mountains, you always include an orange and some chocolate in your backpack.”

The creative brewer aims to introduce a Blonde Belgian style beer to the market next spring. “It will have some nice Belgian style flavours with some citrus notes…a nice summer beer.”

In time for Christmas, a Gift Pack with Tojo and Smuggler beers and a half pint pouring glass branded with the Clonakilty Brewing Company logo, will be available to purchase locally.

Tojo American Pale Ale is described as a refreshing pale ale with a big hoppy head and a long finish. “With tropical fruit, passionfruit, pineapple on the nose and a grapefruit finish,” elaborates Frank. The beer is named after Tojo, the beloved monkey mascot and crewmember of T’aint a Bird, an American bomber plane that made an emergency landing at Clonakilty in 1943, en route from Morocco to England. Sadly Tojo died, reputedly due to the hospitality of the locals, was given an Irish wake and buried with full military honours.

The porter has notes of coffee and chocolate and was named Clonakilty Smuggler, as a tribute to the Deasy family, who brewed beer in Clonakilty for almost 200 years. The Deasy’s had a legendary reputation as smugglers along the coast of West Cork, before becoming brewers. Deasy’s stopped producing alcoholic beverages in 1948 and the brewery closed its doors for good in 2001.

“This is a dream come true for me,” says Frank “ In Norway, I was in an office, adding up numbers all day, and brewing was a hobby that I loved doing in my free time. “Being able to do this as my job is something else really. And Clonakilty is a fantastic place to be, so inclusive, a really great place to start up a business.”

And so another connection is ‘brewed’ between Norway and Ireland and another chapter unfolds in the history of brewing in Clonakilty…

www.clonakiltybrew.ie for details of stockists.

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