The Lock-In Episode 19: Ballykilcavan Farm and Brewery
The Lock-In Podcast is back and we’re down on the farm for Episode 19 with David Walsh-Kemmis, a farmer and brewer from Stradbally in Co Laois.
Click on the player below to play the podcast audio (download: 11:42; 7MB; MP3), or scroll down to watch the video.
David is thankful that he and his family were able to pass the lockdown in the countryside. He was hoping to develop the tourism side of his business in 2020, but he has been lucky that demand for canned and bottled beers has risen.
“Pretty much everything that we produce goes into either cans or bottles. The pubs closed; we lost a few very good customers, but actually, in terms of volume that didn’t make too much difference to us, and then suddenly we found that online sales of beer were absolutely flying, particularly canned beers. We started out with bottled beers; we did a few canned beers last year and we built up a bit of a range on that, but we’ve been struggling to keep up with production levels on canned beers for the last two or three months. We’re only now really back on top of things – if an order comes in we’re pretty sure we’re going to be able to fulfil it straight away”.
He is pressing ahead with his plans for development of the tourist business.
“We have just got planning permission for the visitors’ centre so that’s going to go ahead. We’re going to build that on the basis that, at some point, hopefully, normality will return and we’ll be able to get visitors in. I think it is going to be a different product; it;s not going to be coachloads of 30 people coming in to do a brewery tour. It’ll be more like 6 to 10 people; under the current guidelines we’d be happy enough to let 10 people into the brewery at a time, so I think it’ll probably be more tours with fewer people on them, and that’s just the way we’re going to have to run them.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see an awful lot of over overseas tourists next year so we’ll be relying on the domestic market, but I think people have responded very well to the fact that obviously we’re being encouraged strongly not to go abroad, and to stay at home and spend our money here. We’ve actually had quite a lot of people coming to stay in Laois, so maybe coming from other parts of the country, staying in Laois and then they come over and do a tour with us.”
An award-winning broadcaster, blogger and podcaster, Conn Ó Muíneacháin works in communications at Blacknight. He is a graduate in engineering and worked in software development and manufacturing before running his own business for several years. Labhair Gaeilge leis!