February 27, 2024

Black Donkey brings unique Roscommon flavour to its beers


Underworld series has been brewer using a local strain of brewer’s yeast

To celebrate its seventh anniversary, Black Donkey Brewery, based in Ballinlough, Co Roscommon, has released three new “Underworld” beers: Allta, Savage and Rua. Each is made using Morrigan 1, a unique native local strain of brewer’s yeast. At the same time, Black Donkey has launched a walk-in and online brewery shop, blackdonkeybeer.com. “We try to keep things dynamic – that is what keeps us so young-looking,” jokes co-owner and brewer Richard Siberry.

The Underworld beers are designed to be drunk with food. “It had always been a plan to have a series of beers focused on food pairings. We don’t grow grapes in Ireland, but we do produce an amazing range of local artisan products in this country, and they should be on every menu; support local, drink local. You couldn’t make these beers anywhere else on the planet because the yeasts play a prominent part in each one, in the aroma and the flavours. It may sound a bit pretentious, but we wanted to create a provenance. We had fun producing them and are very, very happy with the way the beers turned out. Everyone likes the labels [designed locally by Ellen Egan of Dimple Design in Boyle] as well.”

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Siberry is equally excited about the cellar door and online shop; “As far as I know we are only the second brewer to get this new Producer’s Retail Licence, probably because the process is so onerous. To get a judge to say you can sell your own beer to a consumer is a ridiculous six-month process.”

During lockdown Black Donkey managed to garner a few prestigious awards. “We generally don’t enter competitions as our beers don’t fit neatly into categories, but the International Beer Challenge judge on quality and technical merit. We won a Gold for Savage and for Sergeant Jimmy, and a silver for Sheep Stealer; a very nice haul.”

Richard has food matching suggestions on the back label of each beer. I tried a few of these out and they worked very well. But you don’t have to have food. The beers are excellent all on their own too.

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