Friday 14 November 2014

How Wetherspoon's could change the face of Irish ale

JDW's Three Tun Tavern, Dublin
I hadn't realised just how big JD Wetherspoon's plans are for the Irish Republic, and just how much it could change the profile of real ale over there, until I caught up with Cork brewer Shane Long yesterday. He does produce cask ale at his Franciscan Well brewery, and he also runs a popular annual Irish cask ale festival with 50+ beers on offer, but most of his production is keg, simply because the Republic doesn't have enough bars with handpumps.

Indeed, he estimates there's probably only 20 pubs in the country serving cask ale right now (though of course there's more in Northern Ireland). However, that number is set to more than double over the next year or three with the arrival of JD Wetherspoon, which plans to spend up to €100 million developing a chain of pubs in the Republic.

The first Wetherspoon's south of the border - it already has numerous pubs in the north - opened in Dublin earlier this year, and a second Dublin (or rather, Dun Laoghaire) Spoons is due to open next month.

Shane expects the company to open at least 20 more around the country though, while the Belfast Telegraph suggests the total could be as high as 30. “They've four sites planned in Cork city alone, one in the centre and three in the suburbs, with the first probably opening next January,” Shane added.

Given that all are likely to have at least some real ale presence, here's hoping that it will be a big fillip to local brewers wanting to do more than just fizzy keg!


  1. A couple of local brewers have sold odd casks to the Three Tun Tavern, but for most the price that JDW pays isn't worth their while.

  2. That's pubcos for you. :-( At least JDW passes some of the discount onto the customers.