Rascals Brewing Co speak our language… beer and pizza. Last year, they built Dublin’s first (and only) Taproom and Pizza Restaurant, in Inchicore, Dublin 8.
Let’s rewind; these Rascals have been brewing for years. Husband and wife team, Cathal O’Donoghue and Emma Devlin met while living in New Zealand – Cathal was working in pharmaceutical manufacturing, while Emma was employed in environmental science. They started home-brewing as a hobby. Fast-forward to 2014; Rascals was officially founded and now, they have a 3,000 litre brewery producing some of Ireland’s best and most innovative beers.
You might be familiar with their marketing manager, Joe Donnelly. Until recently, he was known as an award-winning media professional, with over fifteen years experience working in Irish radio as a producer and presenter. He’s now in charge of spreading the word about these beer-brewin’, pizza-craftin’ Rascals and he was kind enough to take some time to chat to us.
Can you introduce Rascals to those who might not be familiar?
Rascals Brewing Co is an independent Dublin craft brewery, established in 2014 and is located in Inchicore. We have five very popular core beers but perhaps one of the main reasons for our success is the range of special edition beers we produce every month.
Why the name Rascals?
I believe it was a word used a lot by Cathal’s mother when he was a young lad, because of his high jinx or whatever. Or maybe they just told me that. But having a name that stands out somewhat, or prompts people to ask “how did you get your name?” is always a good thing.
Cathal worked as a pharmaceutical engineer previously – does that lend itself to the brewing process?
Understanding chemical processes is a big part of brewing so it’s definitely an advantage. Cathal’s approach, and Emma’s too, is very much about trying things out and seeing if they work and if they don’t, improving on it until the desired result is achieved.
Rascals have the core range but some of your finest beers have been more experimental, like the Strawberry Vanilla Shake – is thinking outside the box part of being a Rascal?
Yes, it definitely is. We want to take traditional beer styles and do something different with them, make them more memorable and interesting for consumers.
The shelves are packed with many breweries doing the same styles – naturally enough because popular styles sell well – but you have to stand out. So if we’re brewing a Saison, for example, the question has to be asked: what would be something really different to bring to this beer? What hasn’t been done before and why?
We also think very carefully about ingredients and how to use them, such as steeping lemon zest and lemon peel in tequila before adding it to the brewing of a lemon gose – which we did very recently for a new sour – just to see what sort of kick we can get from that. Nobody is afraid to suggest or try something new. I really like that about Rascals; everybody should be encouraged to innovate, no matter where they work.
Our favourite Rascals beers to-date have been the 7/5/9 series of IPAs… any chance of them making a comeback?
Probably not, but you never know… the 7/5/9 series was a big hit. We were really happy with the beers and the 9 in particular was a proper juicy banger, as we like to say. We do have a new series planned for next year, so keep an eye out for that.
The brewery/taproom in Dublin 8 has been open less than a year – how’s it going so far?
It’s flying. One of the things that’s most pleased us is the positive response from the local area of Inchicore and Dublin 8 in general. I guess a lot of people were really delighted to see something like this open in their neighbourhood.
When we opened in November 2018, I really wanted to get involved with the community and see how we could work with people to help our business but also make Inchicore a destination itself and get people here. Everyone benefits that way.
It’s a really great spot and there are so many sound people living and running businesses here. We’ve done lots of different things with the likes of St. Patrick’s Athletic, Core Youth Services, Inchicore Environmental and local attractions like Richmond Barracks and IMMA.
In terms of our space here, it’s big, very big! We’ve the brewery and taproom, the pizza restaurant, as well as event spaces for hire. We run brewery tours as well. It’s about four businesses in one! It’s a lot of hard work but it’s paying off. People always seem to be really impressed with the place and it’s always a big surprise for first-time visitors.
And you make pizza there too! You seem to take your pizza as seriously as your beer – how did that come about?
Few things go better together than pizza and beer.
Our chef is Patrick Browne and he’s been with us from day one – he previously worked at the Big Blue Bus at the Bernard Shaw. He uses a lot of Irish artisan produce like Gubbeen farmhouse chorizo, Cashel blue cheese and Clonakilty black pudding. He’s very dedicated to what he does and I’m a big fan of his work ethic, and his pizzas of course. I should say that in case he reads this. No but seriously, his pizzas are tremendous.
You can have a lot of fun with pizzas – one of things we got most publicity for this year was the Mother of Dragons pizza we made to mark the final series of Game of Thrones. It’s a damn fine pizza too.
Pineapple on pizza? Yay or nay?
Absolutely never. In my own opinion.
Joe, you’re more known for your radio work – how did you end up being a Rascal? Have you always been interested in beer?
I’d been drinking craft beer for about six or seven years and during that time I just took a natural interest in the industry itself too, I’m not sure why. I really liked that the beer market was changing and all these interesting and different beers were now available to people. I worked in bars years ago and perhaps it’s just something I’ve always loved and enjoyed.
Up until September 2018 I’d been working in radio for 16 years. So yes, it was a bit of a career change but I’d reached a point in my radio career where I felt I needed to try something new, it was as simple as that. Working in radio was something I truly loved, and I still do, but I’d given it a lot and I just wanted to challenge myself with something completely different. So the opportunity to work with Rascals coincided with all that, and in the end I decided to go for it.
We know you used to do the Tins & Tunes podcast – what’s your ideal beer & musical pairing?
That’s a tough question to answer. I’m a big fan of hazy IPAs matched with a summer BBQ playlist I made on Spotify years ago; it has some reggae on it, some Buena Vista Social Club, some Manu Chao, Nightmares on Wax, Sergio Mendes, Paco de Luica, that kind of thing.
My happy place is listening to that and having a decent IPA.
Happy Days beer & food festival is taking place at the brewery this weekend – what should we expect?
Really great food, including Ireland’s best burger: the guys from Handsome Burger in Galway are pitching up. Our neighbours The Taco Truck will be there, as well as Sweet Churro. We’ll be firing out our own pizzas of course.
Loads of great guest beers on tap, free events and live music and DJs across the day. Including me! I’ll be spinning a few tunes.
What’s in the near future for Rascals? Anything fun up your sleeves?
World domination, obviously, but apart from that we’ve got plenty of new beer plans.
It’s been a great first year at Rascals HQ but next year will be bigger and better. We’ve all learned a huge amount in the first year of running this place and we know exactly what we want, and need, to do in 2020. Come visit!