The Smithwick’s Homebrew Challenge 2017 invites homebrewers across Ireland to brew a special summer fruit ale. Smithwick’s Senior Brand Manager Paul Dunkin talks about this year’s challenge and why Smithwick’s is heroing homebrewing.

Now in its second year, the Smithwick’s Homebrew Challenge is a celebration of the ups and downs of brewing; whether it’s an experiment at home with friends, or in the brewery – the one constant is a love of great tasting beer. Each brew entered in the competition will be tasted by a panel of expert judges, professional taste-testers from St. James’s Gate, and members of the National Homebrew Club. The winning brewer will be invited to brew their summer ale to 30 kegs alongside the Smithwick’s brewers at the brewery’s 10hl pilot plant. The beer will then be made available on tap in the Open Gate Brewery for a limited period. The winning brewer will also get a supply of their winning brew to enjoy with friends and family. Brews must be received by April 21st. The winner will be contacted in early June  and will also receive a prize of ε1,000. “We love the Homebrew Challenge,” says Paul. “It’s all about celebrating the home brewers up and down the country who are making some fantastic beers that we don’t get to taste in the trade. The Challenge is open to pubs and their staff once the beer isn’t produced by professional brewers or in a commercial brewing facility. In fact, we would love to see publicans and their staff entering. The competition is open to individuals and groups of two, so we would be delighted if pubs got involved. Smithwick’s has over 300 years of experience in brewing beer. Throughout our entire history Smithwick’s has always been innovating. We have three variants on the market – the original Smithwick’s Red Ale, and a relatively new Smithwick’s Pale Ale, as well as Smithwick’s Atlantic Blonde.” In addition to Smithwick’s, Paul currently has responsibility for the Harp, Kilkenny and McArdles brands. “All of these brands have an incredible history and story to tell,” he says. “Customers want a great taste, but they also appreciate brands with meaning and heritage behind them. Smithwicks is the largest ale in the country and ale is one of the fastest growing categories in the country. Northern Ireland is a key region for Harp. I have been blown away by how that brand has become part of the culture in Northern Ireland. Kilkenny and McArdles don’t have a huge profile, but they are still very important brands and they perform really well in certain parts of the island.” According to Paul, the craft beer revolution should be seen as an opportunity. “Craft beer is about people looking for more depth and discovery in their beers and less mainstream qualities  and I think Smithwick’s offers that,” he says. “Even though it is a big brand, it’s all about the beer and making beers of taste. Our brewers spend a lot of time brewing award winning ales, so I think the craft beer movement helps brands that already have authenticity and who focus on producing great tasting beers such as Smithwick’s.”