Craft Beer – An Alcoholic Beverage or a Drink with a Purpose?

Going back years ago when I lived in Dublin, my life seemed to be exposed to living the young Irish man’s extreme drinking culture, and four days out of seven you would probably find me inside a pub or drinking establishment having a good time.

The idea these days of popping a few more brain cells due to excessive drinking doesn’t appeal to me that much but back years ago it seemed to be acceptable. Without really caring after a few pints of beer it didn’t matter what the taste or colour of the alcohol was you were drinking as long as you had fun and knowing that getting intoxicated was the goal.

As we come to the end of 2019 the drinking culture has changed so much in Ireland where drink driving alcohol limits laws have changed dramatically not to mention the choice of beer and spirits available (You can almost see the consumer change their mind for choice per second like a jockey).

The craft beer age hit Ireland like a storm in the recession and has proven successful and has opened a more refined, knowledgeable and cultured taste throughout the Irish drinking society. The secrets of making craft beer by the producer or brewer reminds me of wine makers in France.

But when you meet Gerald Costello from Costello’s Brewing Company in Kilkenny the goal of brewing and drinking a beer is quite the opposite of what our perception of drinking beer in my opinion is.

Costello’s Brewing Company – Spelt Lager (Irelands Lowest Alcoholic Beer)

Gerald who is well into his 6th year of brewing is the only brew house that produces beer in Kilkenny. Perhaps this could be used as a selling point but what really sets his company apart from every other beer in Ireland is that Costello’s has the lowest calorie beer in the country. Thanks to his spelt lager that is currently moving into food retail stores and on and off trade premises nationwide in Ireland.

Early Beginnings saw Gerald and family work out of Kildare until a premises was found close to the town in Kilkenny. Early products started with a red ale which is more of a Kilkenny liked beer, but as time moved forward porter beer and a range of other beers have been trialled and tested.

The last year or so Gerald has been perfecting his Spelt Lager, which is raising a few eyebrows as spelt wheat is not a commonly used in brewing let alone in bread or baking products. Due to a huge amount of research he has developed Ireland’s lowest alcohol beer because of his passion for food and drink.

Gerald Explains

“About 12 years ago I was helping out in a beer festival, when I stumbled upon the realisation of how much processing aids and other substances were being used in the beer making process in Ireland. Starting my own company the process we use is a natural brewing method based on the German way of making beer.”

“My research based on the German culture and history is based on regulations of only using the basic ingredients of Water, Hops, Wheat and Grains. This has carved a pathway for me to follow these laws. The German consumer drinks 60% more alcohol than the average country but has 25% less alcohol related illnesses”.

Without going into the whole structure of Gerald’s brewing process the spelt wheat reacts differently to a normal wheat. Even though Gerald had to learn and change the brewing process, the spelt wheat withdraws more sugar out of the beer leaving less sugar in the finished product meaning less calorie’s and a 4% alcohol content.

Gerald admits he is very proud of the low Calorie Spelt Beer and acknowledges that a pint of his Spelt Lager holds 160 Calories to another pint of beer on the market that holds 240 Calories. This has been tested to give you more energy than drinking other beers to his new ways of brewing. He firmly specks that the concentration on 4% or 5% alcohol level is part of drinking beer and the other 96% of beer holds the secret of healthier drinking.

Unfortunately labelling laws in Ireland with beer is not the same as food labelling, so even though Gerald states ingredient’s his beer we don’t know what goes into all the other beers we consume, but based on Gerald’s philosophy the processing aids and added man made ingredient’s leaves you worse off on energy and feeling good levels.

I have to add the quick tour with Gerald was enlightening but the other remark that I picked up on is the cleaning of the tanks which takes hours to make sterilisation complete. 50% of Gerald’s time is with brewing process with another 3 people involved when needed for deliveries, bottling and sales.

This has been one of the most difficult articles to write as if I went in depth on Gerald’s full interview which was mainly scientific with a lot of research. I’m not knocking this in anyway at all but perhaps Gerald is just scraping the froth off the beer to open a brand new generation and culture of drinking in Ireland.