Irish craft beer production skyrockets 177% in four years

The IBA is calling on the Government to reconsider plans for cancer warnings on labels

Irish craft beer production skyrockets 177% in four years

Image: Xinhua/Shen Hong

Ireland's craft beer revolution has seen production skyrocket by 177% in just four years.

New figures from the Irish Brewers Association (IBA) show there are now around 100 micro-breweries operating around the country - with production rising from 86,000 hectolitres in 2014 to around 238,000 last year.

The 'Irish Beer Market Report 2017' finds that beer remains far-and-away Ireland's most popular alcoholic drink, accounting for just under 45% of the market share.

Lager remains the most popular type of beer - followed by stout and then ale.

The group is using the report to highlight the high level of tax Irish people are being asked to pay for their pints - the second-highest rate in the EU. 

IBA spokesperson Jonathan McDade said the group is calling on the Government to reduce the rate to benefit both the industry and consumers.

He also claimed the plan to add cancer warnings to alcohol products - included in the upcoming Public Health (Alcohol) Bill - are a threat to the craft beer industry.

"Irish beer producers will be required to develop labels specifically for the Irish market and a second set of labels for elsewhere, which will impact on their ability to export," he said.

He insisted it will cost around €50,000 to redesign the labelling for a single product line, which will significantly impact on smaller producers.

“It will cause huge reputational damage to Ireland’s beer industry," he said.

"No other country in the world has mandatory cancer labels on alcohol products, and such a measure applies a stigma to products made in Ireland."

The IBA is insisting the public health objectives of the bill could be achieved "through more effective and less trade restrictive means" which would tackle alcohol abuse without damaging the industry.

The IBA report said Ireland's beer industry directly employs 1,064 people, contributing €424 million to the exchequer in 2017.

Irish beer exports, by volume, rose marginally by 0.2% last year - making the country the 8th largest beer exporter in Europe. However, the value of the exports dropped by €7m to €273 million.

The most popular destination for Irish beer is the UK, followed by the US, France, Canada and Germany.

The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill aims to reduce Ireland's alcohol consumption to 9.1 litres per person per year and reduce the harm caused by problem drinking.

The bill is currently passing through its final stages in the Oireachtas.