The McGargles Irish Family Beers
Brewed by Rye River Brewing Company
Style: Range of small batch beers
Kilcock, Co. Kildare, Ireland
Drinking in an Irish beer session can produce a lot. For most of us it gives us a stomping hangover, and a not so pretty toilet the next day. But for three lads, Alan Wolfe, Niall Phelan and Tom Cronin, this drinking session gave birth to a great idea. Now I have loads of great ideas when I am on the gargle, but unlike them I have no experience with the likes of Molson Coors, Guinness and Heineken, as the aforementioned have. Bored with the uncompromising corporate world, and wanting to try something new and exciting they decided to buy a brewery.
So in late 2013 Rye River Brewing Company was established in the small commuter town of Kilcock in Co. Kildare. The company borrows its name from a river that passes through the town. Starting off with 3 they have quickly jumped to about 50 employees, and for one simple reason: Success.
Their flagship brand, McGargles, has proved very popular, served in 250 bars round Ireland, exporting to about 15 countries including the USA (into 150 pubs in New York) and Canada, and winning many awards along the way including eight medals at the International Beer Challenge in London.
But that doesn’t tell the whole story. The brew team have the extensive experience in the drinks industry that is required to make this work. Niall is ex-Molson Coors, Alan ex-Diageo, and Tom ex-Heineken. The company’s Head Brewer, Alex Lawes is well respected within the industry and is a 3rd generation Guinness brewer, and they have a Yeast Expert in Preet Singh, all amongst a team of about 50 making Rye Brewery the success it is.
They have built a state of the art brewery, the first 100% Irish made brewery to be built in over 100 years, and invested heavily in the brewing team and technology with the ability to produce high quality beers. Having one of the most advanced breweries in the country is not enough though. Soon they hope to have a 5,000 sq ft visitors and conference centre opened. They also plan to open their own bottling line saving on imports.
They also distribute for well-known brands San Miguel and Bavaria, along with craft beers Coiso from Denmark and Innes & Gunn from Scotland.
They have brought a little humour to an industry that is in danger of taking itself too seriously. One has to only look at the beer snobs and hipsters throttling the life out of what should be a fun market. Go onto any beer forum and be amazed at the seriousness of it all. Christ its beer, no need to take it too heart. Take a chill pill, or in fact have a McGargle’s Granny Mary’s Red Ale!
The McGargle’s Irish Family Beers have been a sight to see in the stalls of shops and off licenses with its unique and striking imagery. A range of small batch beers that include IPA, Irish red ale, lager, stout, pale ale, and wheat beer. Each beer has a story, representing a member of the typical Irish family with its own unique personality and tale to tell. That and the clever tagline “You can’t choose your family but you can choose your beer!” It all looks great, and definitely stands out. I love this. Usually an Irish beer will play up the stereotype twee shite, the shamrock and all that, but this is something a little bit different. It’s very different, yet still typically Irish, the dysfunctional Irish family that we can all relate to…….Granny is head of the family, the mad uncle, and a hyper daughter amongst the rest. There is one or two in every family, or at least a less extreme version of that.
For Kilcock this exciting new venture is a return for the town to past glories. Kilcock which takes its name from the 6th century Saint Coca who founded a church in 550 A.D beside the Rye River. Even though Kilcock is a small town in Ireland it is quite well known, mostly as it is a town that many recognise from the bus or train making a stop on its way to Dublin. Also the town was a major trading centre from as far back as the medieval period thanks to the Normans who laid it out as a principal trading centre. As the Normans were experts in building successful towns, holding markets and fairs and in trading, well all that work builds up quite a thirst. Over time several small brewing and distilling industries popped up in the town. The first official record of Brewing & Distilling here dates back to May 1595. In fact on one occasion Kilcock was home to five breweries, two whiskey distilleries and two malt houses.
With the opening of the Grand Canal in 1796 further increasing trade into Kilcock, trading agricultural goods off to Dublin by barge, 6 distilleries opened to facilitate in this new found enterprise.
All this history means something. The town of Kilcock has the brewing heritage and in what was once Kelly’s bakery dating from the 1700s Rye River Brewery found a location to call home. One would like to think that the brewers of the past are looking down kindly, gently pushing the team into making top class beers. For the future Rye Brewery want to be the best little beer business in the world.
They also want to involve the people of Kilcock in their meteoric rise. They are creating jobs, fuelling the local economy and bringing a much needed boost to a forgotten town that would love a return to the grand old days of prosperity. People now have a reason to visit the town. People tend to forget that breweries are big productions, bringing much need revenue and employment into a town.
But apart from their expertise the team have the passion and the love of their craft.
One thing I must commend Rye Brewery is their effort to get the general wider public involved in the craft beer revolution. They provide hop kits, and offer help and advice to people who are seriously interested in home brewing, and are attracted to the brewing business. They want to involve the general public into the process. If you can’t bring the beer to the people then bring the people to the beer!
I feel that Rye are an Irish version of those Scottish scallywags Brewdog, showing a lot of fighting spirit, with a hard nose for business, but all done with a healthy dose of humour. It’s great to see how fast that Rye have risen, and the future looks dead exciting for both the people of Kilcock and the wider beer community in Ireland. Perhaps the McGargle Family might lighten up a bit?
For more on Rye Brewery and all the exciting work they are doing, please have a listen to this excellent podcast with 11PM Somewhere interviewing Niall Phelan, one of the founders of Rye Brewery.
11PM Somewhere Podcast
The McGargles Story
The island of Leannclann is more than just the home of the McGargles Brewery. There you’ll find cantankerous auld ones, swearing dwarves, ambiguous lotharios, flirty daughters, and out-of-control hippies. This is just what the McGargles call family.
McGargles has come a long way from the family bathtub where it was first brewed, and weary travellers thirsty for a drop often brave the danger for a taste of the legendary brews. Although most are never seen again, on quiet nights, whispers of “one more pint” can be heard on the wind.
A McGargles family night out has been known to bring whole towns to a standstill. Don’t be afraid to join in though. Everyone is welcome in the McGargles family, as they say: you’re at your Granny’s now!
You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your beer.
Granny Mary is as fiery and strong as her malt-driven Red Ale, and is known for her temper, which is as bitter as the hops that balance it. With the arching of an eyebrow she could make or break your day, and for some reason, just plain refuses to believe in dolphins.
The appearance showed a very dark deep reddish colour with a slight thin white head.
A really nice aroma of pale malts, caramel and toffee, lovely.
Taste: A light bodied taste of caramel that lingers on the tongue. Not a strong taste, a bit grainy, but an easy enough beer to drink, easy and light on the palate, and light bitter finish. Clean and nicely balanced.A good introduction to the McGargle Family range of beers.
Knock Knock Ned, like his brew, spent years entertaining crews of Merchant Seamen. Don’t be fooled by his height – this world renowned pirate impersonator with his two wooden legs, is as hoppy as his Indian Pale Ale, and equally as rugged.
Ned’s IPA is balanced with three types of specialty malts. Rich hops, Cascade, Target and Hallertau to give this IPA a distinct and unique flavour.
A slight aroma of malt and floral hops
A lot of depth to this beer, a lot going on with the taste buds. The taste is sweet and malty.
Found it to be a very strong tasting beer, that had a very sweet bitter aftertaste. A beer I enjoyed drinking slowly, noting the 6.5% ABV that can be felt throughout! Overall not too bad, a good strong beer to enjoy unhurriedly.
Review: Bottle of McGargles Fancy Frank’s Lager, Pale Lager 4.5% ABV
Pours a light straw coloured appearance with a small head, a pretty standard looking lager.
Aroma is sweet and smelling of malt
On taste I got a lot of fruity flavours, full of fruit in fact.
Tasting of malt, the fruit and very sweet. A crisp lager, short sharp, and did the business.
Cousins Rosie’s Pale Ale perfectly balances bitter citrus fruit notes with a caramelised palate. It’s a strong, hoppy Pale Ale with a well-rounded finish. Just remember, Cousin Rosie drank it long before it was cool.
Cousin Rosie’s Pale Ale perfectly balances bitter citrus fruit notes with a caramelised palate
The aroma was also pretty good, a smell of fruit and malt. A good ale smell
Taste the fruits, the citrus, and of the hops with a slight aftertaste. This beer had great depth to it, a nice good feel. With a lot going on in the taste, its good to take your time over this beer, appreciate the tastes, take a good mouthful, and enjoy.
Decent enough beer, I certainly liked it, and will be eager to give this one another try in the future.
Review: Bottle of McGargles Uncle Jim’s Stout 4.5% ABV
A smooth, well rounded stout.
Aroma wasn’t too strong, faint malts, and caramel.
Absolutely gorgeous taste of chocolate throughout in this stout, loved it. Dark malted, toasted, and coffee on the taste buds. Not a heavy drink, pretty easy to drink. The chocolate lingers long in the mouth.
Would really love to have a crack of this stout on draft, must be very pleasurable! One to check out again for the future.
Overall, I enjoyed the Stout and the Pale Ale the most, while the gang I was with went with the Red Ale. I will definitely try and get that Stout on draft, if possible, and it will be interesting to see if there are any new additions to the McGargle family in the future.
(Hot off the press: Rye Brewery are currently in the process of moving to a new and improved location………….so watch this space!)