Five minutes with Franciscan Well founder and Molson Coors craft beer supremo Shane Long

Drinks: Beers, Drinks
Location: Ireland

Franciscan Well’s Shane Long reveals his plans for a London pop-up bar in November and shares his observations on the changing face of brewing in Ireland and the latest trends in America

Shane Long at Franciscan Well Brewery with Oli Kutylowski, Ivelina Pesheva, Jake Salte and Jordan Childs from Brewhouse & Kitchen

This year, Imbibe Live’s Tapsters competition was won by the Crafty Zealots from Brewhouse & Kitchen. The prize included a trip to Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork, Ireland, where the team caught up with Shane Long, Franciscan Well founder and Molson Coors craft beer supremo…

How are things going for Franciscan Well Brewery?

Beyond my wildest dreams. You saw where we came from – a tiny brewery. Now we are gaining traction outside of Ireland and we are seen as the largest ‘craft brewery’ on the island. I never thought my beer would be sold in the UK and now it has gained huge traction in the likes of London.

What difference has your new brewery made?

Like going from night to day. It has also brought with it the ability to find a technical brewer, which I couldn’t do before with the volume/scale available. This has brought about a consistent product no matter where you taste it.

Have you any plans for the UK for the next six months?

Yes. We will have a pop-up Franciscan Well bar in Bermondsey, London, this November, marking our 20th year in business. Also, a deal has been done with Mitchells & Butlers, which will keep me busy all through next year the volumes are so large.

How is the craft brewing scene in Ireland these days?

Very different. I used to know everyone, but it has become so large now, I’ve lost track of how many new breweries are out there. It’s still vibrant but I can’t see too many making money this year.

The breweries are growing faster than the market, and from what I see with the bars I’m involved with it’s gone hyper-local. Breaking through now to become a national brand is getting harder.

There are some world-class breweries here that could stand up against the best in the world such as Rising Sons, Whiplash, Kinnegar, Trouble Brewing, Dot Brew, Dick Mack’s and Galway Bay. Unfortunately, not all breweries will survive, and I feel many will close this year.

I gather you have been in America with your Molson Coors role. What’s going on over there?

I’ve been over several times, but my beer isn’t there yet. It’s a very fragmented market in the US, but like I see here, they’ve gone hyper-local. I see trends of brewers and consumers moving away from higher abv to more sessionable beers. I see the next big thing as being beer infused with pot, which is being done in the likes of California.

To celebrate 20 years in the business, Franciscan Well will be appearing from 14 to 16 November at The Bermondsey Bar & Kitchen in London.

Molson Coors/ Brew+Press kindly provided The Tapsters’ prize of a trip to Cork, Ireland, to visit Franciscan Well Brewery and experience the Irish craft beer renaissance. 

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