LO­CAL HE­ROES Hope and glory: The mum who set up a brew­ery af­ter a 17-year ca­reer break

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

“Ev­ery vil­lage and town has its own brew­ery, es­pe­cially in Ger­many, Hol­land and Switzer­land, and peo­ple were a lot more in­ter­ested in drink­ing lo­cal beer, which was dif­fer­ent to our ex­pe­ri­ence in Ire­land,” Ma­hony says. “So we thought it would be an in­ter­est­ing op­tion for Ire­land.”

While Ma­hony and Wim were mulling over start­ing a beer busi­ness, a Dutch friend of theirs, Paul Riteco, be­gan de­vel­op­ing brew­eries, bars and restau­rants in Am­s­ter­dam and en­cour­aged the cou­ple to open a craft brew­ery.

Paul be­came a co-in­vestor in the brew­ery, along with Ma­hony and Wim. He shared some of his ex­per­tise, though he re­mains a silent part­ner based in Am­s­ter­dam.

While Des and Wim were pur­su­ing a brew­ing course in Cork, Hope Beer at first re­lied on sell­ing an IPA, a sai­son ale, and a blonde ale made by a con­tract brewer, al­beit to recipes spe­cially de­signed for the startup by an in­ter­na­tional craft beer ex­pert. Hope Beer’s first cus­tomers in­cluded Dublin restau­rants and bars in­clud­ing Deep in Howth, Gib­neys in Malahide and The Cock and Bull in Ra­heny.

It brewed its first in-house beers in June 2016, us­ing equip­ment im­ported from south­ern Ger- many. The beers are now sold in 150 out­lets, such as in­de­pen­dent off-li­cences, Su­per­valu, Dunnes Stores, restau­rants and gas­trop­ubs.

Be­cause the com­pany was es­tab­lished just as the econ­omy was emerg­ing from the re­ces­sion, the co-founders opted to in­clude “hope” in the name of the brew­ery. They also wanted to stay true to their north­side roots, so their brew­ery is lo­cated on the Kil­bar­rack Road, be­side the Howth Junc­tion Dart sta­tion, mak­ing it the only mi­cro­brew­ery in Fin­gal.

The names of their beers have been in­spired by lo­cal his­tory and folk­lore: one of Hope Beer’s four core beers is called Hand­some Jack, a dou­ble IPA with Amer­i­can and Ja­panese hops named af­ter a 17th-cen­tury pi­rate who set sail from Ire­land, plun­der­ing and wom­an­is­ing his way to Spain and Italy.

“We spent a huge amount of time with the Fin­gal County Ar­chives and the Howth His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety to find in­ter­est­ing sto­ries to put on the beers,” Ma­hony says.

At Hope Beer, Ma­hony is a jack of all trades, han­dling ev­ery­thing from sales to bot­tling to tast­ings. But her mar­ket­ing nous have proved es­pe­cially help­ful in cre­at­ing back sto­ries for each beer.

“With craft beer, peo­ple want to spend time on it: they look at the back of bot­tles to see which hop va­ri­eties were used and which yeast, so we wanted a more lay­ered brand­ing story,” she says. Ma­hony be­lieves their lo­ca­tion will prove an ad­van­tage when tours of their brew­ery com­mence, af­ter the cabi­net this sum­mer gave the go-head to leg­is­la­tion that will en­able visi­tors to mi­cro­brew­eries to buy al­co­hol on site once they’ve had a guided tour.

“You can see the brew­ery sign from the train,” Ma­hony says. “Not only will tourists know we are here, but lo­cals can take the tour, taste the beer and take some prod­uct home with them. We are fin­ish­ing work on our tast­ing room for the tours.”

While the craft brew­ery scene in Ire­land has be­come in­creas­ingly busy, with a re­port last year es­ti­mat­ing that the num­ber of mi­cro­brew­eries more than quadru­pled be­tween 2012 and 2016, Hope Beer has been striv­ing to carve out a com­pet­i­tive edge by brew­ing beers that can be paired with food. The com­pany also opted to pack­age the beer in 33cl bot­tles, rather than 50cl bot­tles.

“We wanted not just beer that’s good with food but beer that works well in a gas­tropub en­vi­ron­ment, where a smaller 33cl bot­tle works bet­ter,” Ma­hony says.

The com­pany’s hard work paid off in May, when Hope Beer won the Best Startup Award at the Na­tional En­ter­prise Awards.

Ma­hony says: “The awards were pre­sented at the Man­sion House by Enda Kenny. It was one of his last gigs, and I got a kiss off him and he was able to hang around.

“At our ta­ble was the team from the Fin­gal Lo­cal En­ter­prise Of­fice, which has been hugely sup­port­ive — not just fi­nan­cially, but as men­tors. They were just as pleased when we won be­cause they were part of our jour­ney as well.”

For her part, Ma­hony be­lieves her ex­pe­ri­ence as an older en­tre­pre­neur demon­strates that bright women who took a long break to raise a fam­ily can suc­ceed in set­ting up a busi­ness and should have pro­grammes to meet their needs.

“There are so many women like me who are well-ed­u­cated, maybe well-trav­elled and were at home rear­ing their kids un­til sud­denly they were 50,” she says. “Some might be plan­ning for their re­tire­ment, but some are think­ing about what they will do next. Es­pe­cially, if like me, they have zero in­ter­est in go­ing on cruises.” hope­beer.ie

Some women ‘might be plan­ning for re­tire­ment, but some are think­ing about what they will do next. Es­pe­cially, if like me, they have zero in­ter­est in cruises’, says Jeanne Ma­hony. Photo: David Conachy

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