WITH more than 40,000 bottles of ale already sold and with distribution into up to 50 pubs nationwide, Kevin Dundon's new craft beer venture has taken off within a few months of its launch.
Branded as 100 per cent pure, there is a genius to Arthurstown Brewing Company's marketing campaign, which separates it from many others.
Already supplying SuperValu and Centra with the exclusive Kings Bay range of Irish Pale Ale and Irish Red Ale, the brewery launched another range of Dunbrody Red and Dunbrody Pale for general launch in the on and off trade in November. Fronted by the celebrity chef and based at his Dunbrody Country House hotel in Dunganstown, the bottles' image comes from the heron.
Dundon said: 'It's part of the local Chicester Clarke family crest. Images of wheat and barley are on the bottle, while the A on the bottle is from the oldest Irish language, spoken at Yola in South East Wexford.'
Using spring water from the estate and barley grown by Tom Crosbie of Glendine House B&B across the road, Dunbrody can boast the freshest ingredients. They are among four Wexford brewers, Cleverman, Yellow Belly and Jack Doyle's.
Master Brewer Kieran Bird from Saltmills has developed the drinks in his pilot room. He said they plan to develop a beer range, which could include a strawberry beer made with Wexford strawberries.
Dundon said: 'We're trying to grow everything within a mile radius so we are in change the status from craft to artisan beer.'
'Arthurstown Brewing Company is the main brand and everything is under that. It started with me, Tom Crosbie and Eamonn Murphy sitting around, having a pint and saying it would be nice to open our own micro brewery. We said we'd put €10,000 into it a man and here we are at €500,000. With every business that you get involved in you need to get a gut feeling about it and I got a really good gut feeling with this. Everything is falling into place correctly. The cornerstone of this business is to have a brew master and to have someone with that craft and ability and in Kieran we are fortunate. We are also in a lucky situation as I'm brand ambassador for Supervalu.'
Dundon said he met Bird with Crosbie and immediatley knew he was the person to bring the business forward.
'I had this instant love of this guy, and just as I have a passion for food, he has a passion for beer. We work extremely well together.'
Dubliner Neal Donnelly was appointed manager having completed a masters in craft beer.
'We felt we needed someone in to manage the business on a day to day basis. Neal has been the rock behind the team in terms of his calmnness, his dedication and his ability to deal with the multiples. I love that it's a small business and everyone is willing to go the extra mile and do everything they can to make it a success whether we are mopping floors or scrubbing out tanks or doing tastings across the country.'
Up to 6,000 litres of beer, ales and stout are brewed on site each week and bottled in Antrim. The company will increase this with the launch of their Dunbrody Stout in February.
Dundon has been promoting the range by cooking Christmas ham in his pale ale for a UTV Christmas show and he said there could be some more product placements of the beers. He said there are advanced plans to sell the beer into the UK market and he hopes to one day sell it in America where he has a very popular restaurant, Raglan Road, in Orlando, Florida.
'Bord Bia is very keen on us exporting this and we are working closely with them, along with Wexford Enterprise Board who have been very good in supporting us with some grant aid. Both organisations have given us great advice and support. England could happen quite soon and that would be a centre hub, along with Ireland which is a big market for us. They all say the big market is in the US and we have to look at that. Everything has to work together as we are a small fish in a big pond. Craft drinkers are educated drinkers. They are connoiseurs and they love to read the labels. They are into the story and the story we have here is one of partnership and of natural ingredients.'
Dundon said the Irish pubs which are successful in America all concentrate on food, which craft beers can be paired with.
He plans to open a visitor centre beside the brewery in time for the summer season. This would involve guests and visitors getting a tour of the cookery school and/or the brewery, starting in an observation area and travelling into the centre and brewery, where they can sample some of the beverages.
'We have five employees currently and we are hoping that by the end of 2016 we will have ten. The jobs we have created are speciality jobs and they are specifically within the brewery here,' Dundon said.
'There are also a lot of knock on jobs as our labelling is done in Waterford. Our ingredients are given back to the local farmer to feed the animals and we are using some of the ingredients to create bread for the restaurant.'
Bird said there is good co-operation between micro brewers.
'If you run out of anything they will help you and vice versa.'
Dundon said: 'It's the same with restaurants. Initially I had a lot of meetings with Shane Long from The Fransciscan Well brewery in Cork. We visited a number of breweries and were very welcome.'
Bird has been brewing beer since 1984.
'I wouldn't say the first beer was all that successful but over the last six years I've been brewing all the time, using the same ingredients. I got a qualification in brewing and developed a number of my own recipes. I would always have been looking at what the market was.'
Bird, 49, said he had mixed feelings about giving up his construction job and farming to pursue his dream of brewing beer as part of a larger company.
'I had managed to keep the construction job and the farming going through the recession and things were starting to pick up a bit but this was an opportunity to turn a hobby into a full time job. I liked their proposal and the fact that they had a number of guys on board and there was route to market and that they were willing to finance it.'
The father of three said with Dundon on board he was confident of its success.
Dundon said: 'Our beer is all about a fusion of natural ingredients and crafted production. We are blessed here in Arthurstown to be able to grow award-winning wheat, oats and barley that is infused by the sea salt air. Our director and farmer Tosh Crosbie is able to provide us with natural world class produce all within less than a kilometer from our brewery. This along with our natural sweet water from our ancient well on the Dunbrody estate ensures we have ingredients that are the envy of the world.'