This week, we meet with Paddy McDonald from Killeshin. Paddy owns and runs 12 acre brewery which is based on his home farm.
Paddy took some time out of his busy schedule to meet us and show us around his brewery. Paddy who comes from a farming background, attended Knockbeg College before going onto study Quantity Surveying.
He then went on to travel the world, where his passion developed for craft beers. When he returned home in 2009, recession had hit and like several people around the country Paddy struggled to find work. He worked on the family farm. His father – who has since passed away – previously owned the well-known Clonmore Meats business. We got to know Paddy a little more and the story behind how his brewing company began.
How did this business start?
“I always had a love for craft beer, I started brewing my own craft beer in my kitchen. And I took a few courses about brewing etc. And on our farm we grow our own malt and barley on high quality ground material, and we have very good water so I thought it was a good idea to put the three things we have and make it a product.”
What’s your education and working background?
After coming home from travelling, I worked on the family farm. I then wanted to expand my knowledge on craft beer so I travelled to Cork where I took classes. I then started this company in November 2014.
What are the worst/best things about working in this industry?
“You are competing against the big guys, Diageo, Guinness. That’s a hard thing to do in this industry, and it’s a real struggle. The best things are that you get great local support, focusing on consistency and quality.”
What is your earliest memory of being involved in this business?
“I grew up working on the farm, so I always remember growing the barely. But my earliest memory from this business would be brewing in my own kitchen at home.”
Do you remember your first sale?
“My first sale was to Tully’s bar in Carlow. Ed Cahill has been a big supporter of mine, and still continues to stock my craft beer. The buzz of making a sale always gives a great boost of confidence. “
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received along the way?
“The best advice I have received was from my father – he always told me that if you ever got knocked down, just get back up. “
Who else is involved in the business?
My brothers are shareholders and my wife Aisling is a teacher so she’s a great help especially during this time of year. I have two part-time staff.”
What is your role in the business?
I do all the brewing myself, I do some of the selling to wholesalers, cleaning, managing the paper work. I pretty much do most of it.”
If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
“I hope to export my product in the future, as well as expand nationwide, and of course I would hope to make more profit.”
What makes your business different to competitors?
“We have a unique selling point, we grow our own malting barley and use all of our own water. We have control of the raw material; we don’t use any additives or preservatives. We grow good quality produce.”
What is the most challenging part of your business?
“For me, the most challenging part trying to manage everything – especially the financial side, managing cashflow etc.”
What is your typical working week?
“Generally on a Monday I would be based in the office. Tuesdays could include brewing, Wednesdays usually entail cleaning. Thursday is mainly deliveries, and Fridays we bottle.”
12 acres brewery craft beer is currently available to be purchased in Aldi, Super Valu, and Dunnes Stores. And also available in many local pubs in both Laois and nearby counties as well as Egan’s Off Licence in Portlaoise, who have been big supporters of Paddy’s since the start.