Hailing from polar opposite ends of the country, Cathal O’Donoghue (33) from Skibbereen, Co. Cork. Emma Devlin (30) from Malin, Co. Donegal met in New Zealand and it’s there that they discovered their love for craft beer.
Emma remembers "There were loads of micro breweries opening up in the city of Wellington. As our love of tasty good beer grew we started home-brewing. It was Cathal’s dream to come home and set up a brewery.”
No mortgage and no kids meant they felt they didn’t have anything to hold them back. The timing was right so they packed up their lives, moved back to Ireland and set about building their own brewery.
It took a long time to come up with the name but they finally decided on Rascal’s as they felt it "represented ourselves as well as something “Irishy”, fun and bold…just what we wanted out of our range of beers"
Cathal (left) and assistant brewer Shane Butterley (23)
They bought equipment second hand from another brewery but finding a suitable and affordable location was tricky. They wanted a city centre location but a lack of funding ruled that out, eventually settling on what was most practical; a modern industrial unit in Rathcoole.
With the lease signed, they soon found themselves deep in paperwork and red tape with Emma remembering one issue where it took their bank over 3 months to process one document to allow them to simply pay excise to the Revenue. But they persevered and eventually brewed their first batch in April 2014.
The next year was spent holding sampling events, building relationships and establishing accounts in pubs around the city. After just over 12 months of hard graft, and with a range of beers that was selling well, the brewery was at full capacity and they’re currently investing in expanding the brewery.
Long term plans include getting their beers into cans (“on shelves in off-licences by Christmas!), international exports and a bigger brewery in a city centre location. "We really want to push our beer as far as we can within the Dublin market and become a well known and loved Dublin craft beer brand. It would also be amazing to have the ability to do brewery tours and have the public taste the beer in our own tap room”.
I’m not a beer geek by any means but I love meeting craft brewers. They juggle the rolls of chef/scientist/marketing/van driving/accountant every day. They have the obsession and passion needed to develop a great product that sells but also the initiative and hard graft to get the product out there amongst the big players and win business.
Rascals are ones to watch.
We asked Emma what the major milestones were for Rascals.
- November 2013 - Shaking hands on buying our brew kit from Galway Bay Brewery.
- February 2014 - Signing the lease on our industrial unit
- April 2014 - First ever brew day
- June 2014 - Rascals Launch in MART in Rathmines was a brilliant day for us. There must have been 250 people there. I think the free beer may have been a factor.
- Sept 2014 - Irish Craft Beer Festival in the RDS. It was a cool feeling being at the other side of the bar from previous years.
- July 2015 - Reaching capacity. Having all out tanks full of beer at different stages of the process.
3 tips from Emma if you’re thinking of doing it yourself.
- BUSINESS PLAN - You need to have a good business plan. Do plenty of research and get out there and speak to brewers, publicans and potential consumers. Ask 'stupid' questions!
- SALES - Have a sales plan. It’s easy to come up with all the beers you would like to brew but it’s even more important to know how, who and where is going to sell the beer!
- LOVE BEER - It might sound obvious but you need to really know beer. How it should look, smell and taste. You need to know how to brew or else employ a brewer while you focus on running the business.