Wood Key Brewing began when Simon and Brian had been working in an Off licence in north Dublin, one of their customers, Andrew, came in and pitched the idea of setting up a business. Andrew was doing an MBA and wanted to put that learning into something he was passionate about. Craft beer came instantly to mind and Simon and Brian where the people who knew beer.
They worked on a few brews and experimented with different recipes with the idea of creating a few batches to test demand, ‘we didn’t think it would end up where we are now’ Simon chuckled when I caught up with him recently. That was in 2015 and Wood Key’s popularity has grown amongst fans of craft beer and picked up a number of awards in the meantime. They have also recently made the move over from bottle to exclusively packaging their core range in cans. Why cans? For Simon it’s about freshness, convenience and eco friendliness.
What has attracted fans to Wood Key from the start has been their emphasis on creating malt forward balanced beers. Hops are an important part of creating great tasting balanced beers and Wood Key don’t shy away from their use but their focus is on creating ‘traditional beer styles that showcases malted barley’. As Simon views it, ‘Ireland grows world class barley, we should lead with what Ireland does best’.
That focus on malt can be seen throughout the Wood Key range. Their flagship brew, The Pilgrim, is a soft red ale with a complex blend of malt flavours of red fruits, smooth caramel and a light toastiness. For the rerelease in cans they have slightly altered the recipe for the Pilgrim and this is the version that won ‘Best in Category’ award for Ale in the recent Alltech Dublin Craft Beer Cup.
The Ravens is their rye ale which again has seen a couple of tweaks with for the can rerelease including bringing the Abv down, to make it more sessionable while still displaying bright citrus hop notes over toasted caramel and rye spice.
The Hunted Dear IPA is the newest addition to the Wood Key range. This is a softer take on a traditional IPA, again with a focus on the malt aspect with Irish malts alongside a variety of wheat with Calypso, Huell Melon and Cascade hops giving those strawberry, guava, pear and soft citrus notes.
Along with these we can expect 2 to 3 more seasonal releases out this year, with Wood Keys take on a sessionable NEIPA being brewed this week. They also have a ‘few stouts in mind’ as they have a couple of stout recipes they have been working on for a while that they are looking forward to releasing. In the meantime, you can check out the core range with all three of the Wood Key cans at 6 for €15 in our mix and match can offer for August.