Seamus and Siobhan McMahon run a successful brewery from their Co. Monaghan based family farm.
Patrick Kavanagh’s poem Stony Grey Soil inspired the name of the first beer brewed at the Brehon Brewhouse. The poet was born just a few miles from the brewery, located on the McMahon family farm in Dunelty, Inniskeen Co. Monaghan. Brewery founder and owner Seamus McMahon is delighted with the way things have grown since he decided to plunge himself into the business of brewing in 2013.
The farm has been in the McMahon family for generations, originally a dairy farm and still home to a dairy herd which Seamus milks every day. The brewing aspect came about as he started looking for a way to boost the farm’s productivity. At a time when craft brewing was taking off, he decided to have a go. Sheds were converted for the brewery and a Master Brewer employed. Brehon Brewhouse beers are now available in four countries, as well as the home market.
The Tasting Room at Brehon Brewhouse is located in the original family farmhouse, where Seamus’s grandparents raised eleven children, including his father, and where Seamus was also born. His grandmother was originally from another farmhouse about a mile and a half away, next door to the house where Patrick Kavanagh was born. The name of this brewery is inspired by the old Brehon Laws that governed medieval Ireland, which stated that every clan was allowed to brew beer for their own family. All of this wonderful heritage is incorporated into the Brehon Brewhouse brand and farm, which is part of Bord Bia’s Origin Green initiative.
Tours of the farm and brewery are available. Visitors can see the milking parlour and meet the McMahon herd which supplies milk to Glanbia and cream for the famous Bailey’s liqueur. Afterwards, the group moves on to the brewery to smell the specially selected malts that go into this beer and see the Master Brewer and his apprentice at work. All brewing, bottling and capping is done by hand. The tour then moves to the tasting room in the original family home, which still has the old range and dressers Seamus’s grandmother used.
A tasting of beers follows. Stony Grey is an Irish Pale Ale with floral pine flavours and malty spice, a great quaffer that washes down spicy foods and curries. Brehon Blonde is bottle conditioned to produce a pale golden beer with a rich malty finish, a good beer for fish and chips and other shellfish. Killanny Red is an Irish Red Ale hand crafted to give a malty, nutty flavour. Drink this one with a stew or roast beef and you can even use it in the gravy. Ulster Black is an Oatmeal Stout made from malted hops, barley and oatmeal. Full, robust and dark, this rich creamy stout is great with game and red meats. Shanco Dubh Porter harks back to the traditional porter style ales brewed in an Ireland of long ago. Dark and toasty in flavour, with hints of liquorice. Try it with a plate of oysters or some well matured Irish farmhouse cheddar cheese. Brehon Brewhouse Summer Ale has the essence of an Irish summer, fresh and lively; it matches barbecue pork and chicken and quenches the thirst in warmer weather.
Brehon Brewhouse beers are available in local shops and pubs in Monaghan, plus pubs in Dublin, good independent off licences and the major multiples in Ireland.