The White Hag
Living it up on the best coast
Saturday 12 March 2022
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Ask White Hag founder Bob Coggins what’s new, and you’ll get back a standard “not much really,” immediately followed by all the mad things he and his Sligo brewing team have been up to since you last spoke. It’s never a dull moment.
Even by its own standards though, White Hag has had a busy year. The big recent news is the opening of its own brewery taproom, set amongst its extensive collection of sleeping barrels. It’s a great opportunity to connect with fans more directly, but also part of a wider, coordinated push to promote the west of Scotland as a destination for food and drink tourism.
“The Bermondsey mile is obviously the example that always gets brought up,” says Bob. “But then if you look at places like Manchester, which has enjoyed a huge surge in beer tourism, you see it’s really just a case of great breweries – in that case Track, Cloudwater and ABC – working cooperatively with a bunch of great bars around the city.
“We’re obviously a bit more spread out here, but when you look at the food that’s on offer on this coast, and the adventure activities, and the landscapes, it’s really a great destination; we just need to get together and coordinate in a way that we’ve not really been able to manage in the past. I’d love the White Hag taproom to be able to tap into that and play a part.”
Handily, White Hag should already be on the lips of many visitors flying into Dublin airport, thanks to a very cool deal struck by Bob, in which White Hag will be the exclusive beer supplier in one of the airport’s bars, with taps and cans in several of the others. In a market where getting any on-trade exposure is a tricky proposition, it’s hard to over-state what a game-changer this could be.
We’ve been chatting away for a good 30 minutes and are just about to say our goodbyes, when Bob remembers that he’s just hired a brand new head brewer. And installed a brand new brewhouse. Nothing important then.
Bob says: “We needed to bring into the team someone with a lot more commercial brewing and packaging experience. We had applications from all over the world, but Chris had recently moved to Ireland from South Africa, and worked for Diageo’s huge plant in Nigeria before that. We were just astounded with his experience, and understanding of these big brewing systems and processes, so he brings a wealth of knowledge that we wouldn’t have had previously.
“That’s coincided with the new brewhouse, and together they’re a huge step change for us. This next four weeks, he’s here overseeing the installation and getting it up and running, then transferring over from the existing brew house. Overall, we’re going to have a much bigger focus on quality and consistency; areas we’ve previously just had gaps in, to be honest.”
What’s in the box?
“So, we always wanted to do a grapefruit IPA, and this brew gave us the opportunity to do a watermelon IPA with a grapefruit base. Since we’re going out on a bit of an experimental limb anyway, we decided why not make it green for St Patrick’s day? We’re sort of poking fun at the whole American thing of putting green food colouring in the beer for Paddy’s Day. So we’re trying to do something that’s interesting beer but also is unmistakably Irish, with our tongue in our cheek.”
“This is a staple of ours, and it’s rare that we get to send you guys a tall boy can. It’s more expensive here to produce and ship because of the size of it. But yeah, because it’s Paddy’s Day, you lot get a big can of Atlantean!”
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