Galway Hooker

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The story behind Galway’s most iconic craft beer

When you think of ‘Galway Hooker’, there are a number of things that spring to mind: the iconic sails of the traditional Galway

Hooker fishing boats; the well-known scultpure that commands attention in Eyre Square – things that are at the heart of Galway’s culture. And over the past decade, another Galway Hooker has not only burst onto the Galway scene, but carved a niche for itself and claimed the name ‘Galway Hooker’ for its own. When cousins Aidan Murphy and Ronan Brennan started up the Galway Hooker brewery in 2005/2006, craft brewing was in its infancy and people didn’t really understand the concept. “Are you crazy? Just buy a house if you want to make money,” said the nay-sayers when they heard of the plans. But more then a decade later, Galway Hooker is
one of the most well-known craft beers on the Wild Atlantic Way – with a great reputation and delicious taste to boot. And to top it all off, it has one of the most iconic names in the craft beer industry. “People never asked how we would make the beer, or what style of beer we would produce, or where we would make it,” Aidan explains.

“All they wanted to know was ‘What are you going to call it?’. And no matter what name we came up with, the person we were talking to thought the name was rubbish but that they had a much better name, which they would swiftly share with us.” So Aidan and Ronan decided that, since everybody had so many great ideas about what the beer should be called, why not let them name it? “We duly set up a website (before the age of social media) and invited the public to log in and suggest a name for the beer. Galway Hooker is what they chose. Blame them!” Since then, the Galway Hooker brewery have developed four core beers – the most popular of which is the Irish Pale Ale. “We were the first brewery in the country to produce this style of beer, which is now by far the most popular style of craft beer in Ireland. I think a lot of people consider it a benchmark beer because of that.,” says Aidan. The brewery also produces an Amber Lager, an Irish Stout and an India Pale Ale – all of which are very different and designed to appeal to a diverse range of palates, meaning there’s something to suit a variety of tastes. “I’m also proud to say that we are the only brewery to have won a gold medal for three consecutive years at the Irish Food Awards (Blas na hÉireann),” Aidan recalls. And with three gold medals under their belts, it makes you wonder: what is it that makes Galway Hooker so popular, and so worthy of such high praise? “First and foremost it’s all about the flavour. When you distil everything down, that’s what really matters. If the beer doesn’t taste great there’s nothing you can do to make it popular,” Aidan explains. “We pride ourselves on making really flavoursome but accessible beers. We don’t have an elitist attitude and believe that great craft beer is for everybody, not just hipsters! The other important key to success is consistency and I believe this is something Galway Hooker is known for.” The most important thing for craft beers in general is the quality and the taste. Mass-produced beers, according to Aidan, are “a drab and soulless affair”. “Craft beer is an exciting adventure into unchartered waters. People want authenticity and they want to be able to connect with their environment. Drinking beer that was produced by an independent brewery a few miles away allows you to do that. Does a multinational brand tick that box?” Fortunately for Aidan, multinational brands do not tick that box, making craft beers even more unique. And with a craft beer as unique as Galway Hooker, it’s not likely the brand will lose popularity any time soon – especially when craft beers are so sought after at the moment. “It’s extraordinary how much things have changed. We are only 12 years old and are the third oldest independent brewery in the country! There are now nearly 100 brewing companies in Ireland and most of these have set up in the past five years.

“The result is an explosion in variety and choice, which is fantastic news for everybody with an interest in the industry,” Aidan concluded.