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 🙂
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’s a huge loss to the city however we are excited about the redevelopment of the brewery site and the brand new ‘Smithwicks Experience’ where you get to learn all about the brewing of ale in Kilkenny and more importantly to taste some yourself!
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.
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’s oldest ale. If you want to say it like a local don’t pronounce the “w”!
Kilkenny beer is a cream ale similar to Smithwick’s Draught; however, it has a cream head similar to Guinness, and it has a stronger taste.The ‘Kilkenny’ name was originally used during the ’80s and ’90s to market a stronger version of Smithwick’s 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’re in Kilkenny and want a pint of the creamy stuff head to Cleeres pub just across from the Hostel.
If you want to get the low down on Kilkenny’s proud brewing history then visit the Smithwick’s 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.