Aine O’Hora, the master brewer at Connemara Brewing Co was entrusted with a very special project on moving home to Galway four years ago. Bringing a wealth of experience from the brewing industry she began working with Fran O’Flaherty and has had a rollercoaster few years with the challenges of covid.
At Blas the awards are based on blind tasting, our judges review solely on the food they are tasting, they don’t know who has made it or where it is coming from. This blind element is a key part of our judging to allow a level playing field for all. However, once the judging is done we love nothing more than learning all about the producers just like Aine at Connemara Brewing who had her own very special blind tasting moment last year when she could overhear guests in the restaurant beside her ordering, tasting and ordering more Connemara Lager.
When & why did you start your business?
I moved to Galway 4 years ago to be closer to family after having my first baby and thought I would have to leave brewing aside for a little while. Fran O’Flaherty, the owner of the brewery, approached me and asked me to set up the brewery for him, I jumped at the chance. 3 years later here we are!
Who is your food inspiration?
I lived in Australia for nearly 9 years and local food and food markets were always part of Melbourne, I always admired people that choose to use local ingredients , when I came back to Ireland I could see it was happening here too, so I don’t have one person that inspires me, but the choose local inspires me. And we choose local always in the brewery, where possible.
What do you love about your job?
I love my job as its random, one day I’m the gm and sitting at the computer, the next I’m back doing the brewing with the wellies on mixing grain and hot water together, the next I’m hosting a beer tasting at a beautiful restaurant. It’s never boring.
What is your typical day?
Well as you can see from above you have to go with what’s needed in the brewery.
What was your best day since you started your business?
God there are many! Production wise 1st brew day will always be special and first canning day. But last summer I was in a restaurant and the people next to me ordered Connemara lager, tasted it and thought I was fab and went on to order more. They didn’t know who I was and it was so good to see people love it.
Where do your ingredients come from?
When we can Ireland, our malts from the south, specialty malts are imported from Germany as they aren’t done in Ireland. And all hops have to be imported from Europe, Australia and US, as of yet no one commercially grows hops in Ireland. But thankfully this is changing.
Tell us about the people you work with?
We are very lucky to be blessed with a great team at the brewery. Fran, owns the brewery, he’s an experienced business man with a heart of gold, he guides us and allows us to grow. Diane looks after all things admin and keeps us honest with our paperwork. Chris and Mark, are the future of brewing in Ireland. They are dedicated hard working young men that love what they do. And Phil is our sales and marketing head, with the gift of the gab he gets our product into the correct hands and sells it well, he’s a great brand ambassador.
What 3 words would you use to describe yourself/your business?
Local, approachable, considered.
What do you think is the key to success?
Honesty and hard work. Being able to see what’s not working and have the ability to adapt.
Has there been one single moment which has changed how you look at your business?
That’s a tough question, I think no, there’s many. I’ve ran many breweries in my time, but this one is one tough cookie. I’ve watched it evolve over the last three years. And the one thing that shines through is its strength. From covid taking all our org rev potential away and having to change how we package our beers, to the roller-coaster that has been since then. I thought we were just surviving but getting the team back together after New Year’s, seeing the team work, the enthusiasm, I could see we are thriving, not just surviving!