Dysfunctional families and craft beer

Meet the Cosmos – a marketing segment in Eastern Europe that skews towards women. Women who defy convention and have forsworn vodka, wine, and cocktails in favour of beer. [Describes me about 30 years ago, but hey, who am I to argue.]

I only mention them as I was surprised at how surprised the marketer in question was when they discovered that these women like to stay in control and stay out longer. And then they joined the dots and realised that beers, like entry-level craft beers (those about 4.5% alcohol), give them both volume and staying power.

Enter synchronicity. Just as I was wondering who would think of making entry-level craft beer, or indeed any beer that might grab a gal’s fancy, a mate of mine told me of a new brewery in the country town of Kilcock, Co. Kildare. Rye River Brewing Co., home to the McGargles Family Brewers which quirkily has never been established. Floating under the strap line ‘you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your beer’, the range of craft beers is cleverly named after family members. The whole concept is built around a fun, if somewhat dysfunctional family, the McGargles, each of whom is based on someone in the brewery. [If I had a job there I wonder what sort of beer they’d make with me in mind!]

Rye River Brewing Co. was founded back in November 2013 by three lads who wanted to brew serious beer but not take it too seriously. The site of the brewery itself dates back to 1595 so you’d have to think that the ghosts of brewers past are adding to the flavour.

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It’s not even been in operation two years and already the awards are pouring in. Fancy Frank took bronze at the USA Beer Open Championships last month. Not bad for a chap with a colossal ego – apparently no one fancies Fancy Frank like Fancy Frank fancies Fancy Frank. I’m lovin’ this stuff already and I don’t even like beer.

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But there are women in the family, too. Granny Mary has her own red ale that goes particularly well with cheese and fish (who’d have thought that you could match beer to food as you would wine?). Described as a ‘a fiery malt driven red ale’ it’s ‘brewed with earthy Fuggles Hops and a combination of Cara, Vienna and Munich malts [and] has a deep colour and a rich aromatic flavour.’ Now, none of that makes any sense to me but for those of you who are on more intimate terms with your beers, it might float your oats. I’m more taken with the fact that Granny Mary is a fiery, strong character, a fierce lady with a strong temper. And, I know plenty of those. Move over Google and Prezi and the other tech companies who advertise their gaffs as fun places to work – I want to move home and commute the few miles every day to work in Kilcock.

Rye River Brewery

Another woman worth noting is Cousin Rosie…  she likes her Asian food, strong cheeses, meat pies, and caramel desserts. Rosie’s a hipster [I had that term explained to me only last month – I’m not lagging far behind these days] who gets pissed off by what the masses think of as cool. She was a poet once, but preferring silence to words as she does, I doubt her poetry readings were much fun. That said, I think she could teach me a thing or two. Her ale (that she brewed herself – queue up, lads!) is billed as  having bitter citrus fruit notes. ‘The hop aroma gives a strong tropical fruit sensation of pink grapefruit, mango and citrus from the Summit and Chinook hops that are used to dry-hop the beer.  The aroma combines superbly with the taste to deliver a superb well-rounded beer.’ Again, if it gets the mouth watering, fair play.

And there’s Uncle Jim and his chocolatey stout which goes very well with oysters, smoked meats, and chocolate desserts. And Knock Knock Ned and his IPA that goes with curry, shellfish, and salmon. Supposedly India Pale Ale was one of the first beers ever to be exported but Ned says he nicked the recipe from the British Navy. Who’s to know.


The lads at Rye River have a lot to brag about. Okay – so using only natural ingredients should be a given, but with Head brewer Alex Lawes a fifth-generation brewer, that’s a major plus in my book. Especially when so many traditional crafts are being lost because there’s no one interested in carrying them on. And, it’s one of only four brewers in Ireland with its own bottling line so none of this shipping the stuff to the UK to be bottled and then bringing it home again. Add that to the dysfunctional McGargles family and the future looks bright.

So, how can we introduce the McGargles to the Cosmos? Seems like a match made in hop heaven to me.


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