The Brewery

Did you know that the Smithwick’s Experience was listed as one of Lonely Planet’s must see visitor attractions for 2015?¬†Or that there has been a history of brewing in Kilkenny for 800 years? What better reason then to indulge in a pint of Kilkenny’s finest ale ūüôā


The Brewery

Kilkenny is¬†synonymous¬†with beer and had a proud brewing tradition dating back to the 13th century and until very recently you could smell the waft of hops and barely brewing just behind Kilkenny Tourist Hostel. Unfortunately the Smithwicks Brewery closed its doors in 2013 and the brewing of Smithwicks beer has been relocated to Dublin. It‚Äôs a huge loss to the city however we are excited about the redevelopment of the brewery site and the brand new ‚ÄėSmithwicks Experience‚Äô where you get to learn all about the brewing of ale in Kilkenny and more importantly to taste some yourself!

Saint Francis Abbey

In 1234  the Franciscans established an Abbey, with its own well, on the banks of the River Nore in Kilkenny. Whilst brewing and barley cultivation are recorded in Irish Annals from the mists of time, the strong brewing tradition that exists in Kilkenny started with these monks who would have brewed their own light ale for their visitors, using water from St. Francis’ Well. The tower and chanel of St Francis Abbey remain with a beautiful seven light east window that was erected in 1330. When Cromwell entered Kilkenny in 1650 he left the Abbey in ruins but today some fine sculptured figures can be viewed in the tower.

Smithwicks Brewery and ‘Kilkenny Beer’

In 1710 John Smithwick chose the site of this ancient¬†monastery to position his brewery and began brewing his Smithwicks Irish Ale. This ruby red ale was til recently brewed in Kilkenny and is Ireland‚Äôs oldest ale. If you want to say it like a local don‚Äôt pronounce the ‚Äúw‚ÄĚ!

Kilkenny beer is a cream ale similar to Smithwick‚Äôs Draught; however, it has a cream head similar to Guinness, and it has a stronger taste.The ‚ÄėKilkenny‚Äô name was originally used during the ‚Äô80s and ‚Äô90s to market a stronger version of Smithwick‚Äôs for the European and Canadian market due to difficulty in pronunciation of the word Smithwicks; but it now refers to a similar yet distinctly different beer. If you‚Äôre in Kilkenny and want a pint of the creamy stuff head to Cleeres pub just across from the Hostel.

Smithwick’s Experience Tour

If you want to get the low down on Kilkenny‚Äôs proud brewing history then visit the Smithwick‚Äôs Experience a brand new interactive tour that launched in 2014! It’s just a few doors up from the Hostel right on Parliament street.

Check out the First video produced by Smithwicks in 1985 to show to visitors at the site.


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