Bars and restaurants ‘really excited’ as lifting of restrictions nears

From Monday, bars and restaurants in Ireland will be allowed to serve outdoors as part of a phased reopening over the summer
Bars and restaurants ‘really excited’ as lifting of restrictions nears

By Jonathan McCambridge, PA

The co-founder of a Dublin craft brewery has said there is great excitement in the industry ahead of the reopening of bars next week.

From Monday, bars and restaurants in Ireland will be allowed to serve outdoors as part of a phased reopening over the summer following Covid restrictions.

Hope Beer co-founder Wim de Jongh said his independent brewery at Howth Junction on Dublin’s northside has adapted following initial uncertainty at the onset of the pandemic.

Hope Craft beer pumps at its brewery in Dublin
Hope Craft beer pumps at its brewery in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

During lockdown his brewery refocused on the production of canned beer, rather than kegs, to offset the impact of pub closures.

Mr de Jongh said: “We hadn’t put any beer in kegs for about four months, and as soon as the announcement was made by the Government that the pubs would be allowed to have people sitting outside basically every pub decided let’s get going again. They are nearly all trying to give it a go.

“We supply a lot of local pubs around the area and a lot of them are opening now. So we had been selling five kegs a week up until last week and this week we did 85 kegs. That gives you an idea of the scale of it.”

Mr de Jongh said that during the pub closures they had switched to producing 95 per cent cans for retail sale, but had now returned to 50-50 between kegs and cans.

He said: “I think the state of our industry is very good.

“The coronavirus pandemic, I think has been good for craft beer. More people when they go into an off-licence will look for a tasty, nice fancy beer. So our brand has come out of this pandemic very well, many more people know about our brand than before.

“And now with the bars opening again, people are building up to go back into bars.”

Wim de Jongh, co founder of the Hope Craft Brewery in Dublin
Wim de Jongh, co-founder of the Hope Craft Brewery in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

“Exports have started to recover as well. We pretty much did no exports in January, February and March, one or two in April but May was very busy, we had about 10 export orders. We sold beer to France, Italy to the Netherlands and even to Russia.”

He added: “What is really nice to see is that all our bars are getting really excited, delighted to be opening again.

“We had a similar feeling in December, only for it to be shut down again after a week or two. I don’t think that is going to happen this time, the whole threat of illness has reduced greatly.”

The Hope Beer brewery, founded by Mr de Jongh, his wife, Jeanne Mahony, and their friend, Des McSwiggan, is celebrating the fifth anniversary of its opening this month.

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