‘A local alternative’ is brewing in the Liberties

5 Lamps brewery has new alternative beers. Photograph by Louise McLoughlin

5 Lamps brewery has new alternative beers. Photograph by Louise McLoughlin

Guinness and Jameson are the brand names that have defined the Irish drinking scene, but there is a new brewer in town that might change all this, writes Louise McLoughlin.

Upon travelling to the States many tourists may be overwhelmed with the choice of local beer on tap. However, there is a deficit of local brews in Irish bars that Brian Fagan, owner and creator of  The Five Lamps beers, has noticed.

“If you go to the states or the UK there are strong local beers on tap, most of our beer in Ireland is imported from ‘high in the Rockies’ somewhere; tourists think that Ireland is all about Guinness or Jameson.”

To Fagan this is no longer good enough. He foresees a future where Irish bars will boast a “bank of taps of Irish beers for those over visiting”.

“People are now looking for something different and interesting”, adds Fagan, who believes that he has the solution.

He calls his beers: “An alternative, an Irish alternative, and a local alternative.”

And they truly are local, based right in the heart of the Liberties, just off Cork Street. The brewery hosts a small yet efficient three-man team.

It currently brews four beers with its first ever-brewed beer, the ‘Five Lamps Dublin Lager’, as the company’s namesake. The lager is so called as the brewery originally set up base on North Strand, near The Five Lamps.

This year, following their relocation into The Liberties area ‘The Liberty Dublin Ale’ was launched as tribute.

The two other beer’s names are also in keeping with the local theme. The brewery’s Red Ale is christened after a local historic woman. Honor Brite, a working girl from The Liberties area, was murdered many years ago. Her designated bottle has a unique red colour and distinctive design, and a tribute to her life inscribed on the side.

The bottles all have individual colours and stories, but also a recognisible old-style look which ties them all together. Another is called ‘Black Pitts Porter’, after the area just beside New Market Square.

All the beers display a little snippet of local history, printed on the side of the bottle for the drinker’s convenience. This allows the consumer to learn some local history whilst drinking a beer brewed only minutes away.

The brand has gone from strength to strength since its launch in October 2012, and has expanded its market outside the Liberties and into Dublin city in areas such as Temple Bar, and stretching as far as Ranelagh and Donnybrook. The beers are now on tap in up to 30 bars in Dublin, and available in 100 or so off-license’s.

Fagan describes the beers as ‘easy drinking’, and they fall in below the 5% mark, unlike many craft beers. He sums up the beer’s progress in local bars by saying: “According to the barmen no one has ever ordered it and then gone back to a pint of Carlsberg or Heineken afterwards.”

“Everyone thinks that the history of alcohol produced in the Liberties is based around Guinness, but actually it started long before that,” Fagan said. The river Poddle became the base for many breweries in historical times, as the water there was the freshest. Fagan said that in previous centuries there was anything between 50 to 100 breweries at any one time, some so small that they were only in homes, in and around the New Market Square area.

The Five Lamps beers are available from a number of off-license’s and bars in The Liberties area such as ‘Bull and Castle’ and ‘The Duke’, and are priced accordingly against the major competitors of imported beer.

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