Catching up with our old friend The White Hag
The White Hag
Saturday 04 June 2022
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Restore Our Earth
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The White Hag Irish Brewing Company needs no introduction, being an old friend of Beer52 and Ferment. But for those new readers and subscribers just joining us, this award winning craft brewery from Sligo, Ireland, set out in 2014 to brew a range of contemporary beers with the influence of ancient styles. The brewery's namesake, ‘The White Hag’ is a mythical character and entity, who is essentially Mother Nature, a sure clue that natural resources, ingredients and processes lie at the centre of all its operations. The White Hag’s mission is to make legendary Irish beers, and in some cases recreate beers that have not been made in Ireland for hundreds of years, like its Heather Ale and Puca mixed fermentation beers.
“As we’ve grown, we’ve come to recognise the power the beer community has had in helping us,” says Leann Watters, The White Hag’s Marketing Manager. “It has compelled us to help others, to grow the movement of craft beer together, to stand beside friends in the industry and as a community, and support charities with proven high-impact. Sometimes it takes a community to make a greater impact together and we believe this is a very worthwhile way to demonstrate that mantra.”
The White Hag is not messing around when it comes to sustainability, and is dedicated to the belief that more efficient use of resources can and will improve the quality of its beer. As of this year, The White Hag became a member of the Origin Green programme, an environmental initiative used by the Irish government to encourage Irish business into more sustainable production methods. As part of this, The White Hag has committed to continually refining its energy and material footprint to more sustainable methods and products.
“You pick three targets over a four-year period, so we picked water, suppliers and an environmental initiative,” says Leann. “With water targets, we’ve obviously committed to reducing water usage, but as of the end of this year we’ve also committed to rainwater harvesting, which will provide us with the water we need for day-to-day cleaning of the brewery floor.”
Leann is also excited to announce that The White Hag’s old LPG gas-fired 35HL two-vessel brewhouse has just recently been upgraded to a four-vessel, steam-powered, fully automated brewhouse, and is now fully operational on the brewery's 5000 square foot production floor.
“This has been two years in the making, and it finally arrived the first week of March with a team of seven specialists from Slovakia to fit the nearly three kilometres of steel piping involved in the new kit. For us as a brewery, this move is enormous, it means every beer we make will be consistent but also that more efficient” says Leann. The new brewhouse utilises 95% of malt (versus 80% on the old brewhouse) with the combined vessels extracting more from the materials used.
“We’re using the same space we’ve always been in, and everything remains under the same roof, but we’ve carefully planned every square metre to make the most use of the existing space.” The old brewhouse is being sent to another Irish brewery, the identity of which Leann isn’t in the position to confirm at the time of going to press.
The White Hag is also looking forward to Hagstravaganza, its annual international birthday festival, taking place on 6th August 2022; this year will be the first where a virtual map and beer guide is used to feature beers from the 26 breweries attending. The team is focusing its effort on reusable materials for this event, and will provide each attendee with a branded glass to eliminate the use of disposable plastic cups. Additionally, and as is standard practice at The White Hag, fully recyclable packaging will be used, and the brewery has moved almost exclusively to steel kegs with Kegstar, creating a continuous loop of sustainable keg logistics.
As a final note to Hagstravaganza ticket holders, Leann warns: “We also don't turn the heating on, so bring your jacket and gloves, and sun cream - Ballymote weather can be temperamental!”
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