Gráinne Walsh of Metalman Brewing

Metalman Brewing is well on its way to becoming a Waterford institution – and it’s not even a decade old. Back in 2011 – when Gráinne Walsh decided that she’d had enough of the rat race – she packed in her well paying IT job and decided to take a chance on a dream. Herself and her partner Tim had dabbled in brewing before but from the dismay about the current state of the micro-brewery industry in Ireland, Metalman was born.
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“I wanted to do something I was passionate about,” Grainne said. “I researched the beer industry and volunteered at a brewery over in the UK to get some experience and more knowledge about the industry.”For the first year, Tim stayed in his IT job while Grainne became the first employee of Metalman Brewing Company. In 2012 they moved into their new brewing facility in Tycor and soon, Tim packed in his job and joined them. They’ve gone from strength to strength ever since, constantly finding new ways to push the envelope and stretch the capabilities of the humble beer.
“When we released our American style Pale Ale on the market it was the first of its kind at the time,” Grainne said. “We were enjoying the originality and innovation so followed it with more beers that were quite unique in the market such as Windjammer, which was an amber beer brewed with hops from New Zealand and Alternator, which was a Belgian style wheat beer with black pepper and nutmeg. We constantly wanted to do new stuff because, simply, brewing new beers is a lot of fun.”

Always ready to try something weird and wonderful, Metalman’s next step was their first collaboration with a local food producer.“Dermot Walsh from Walsh’s Bakehouse arrived at my door with an empty bottle of beer one day,” Gráinne said.“He had been in Belgium and tasted a beer made with waste bread. It was a perfect storm because he was looking for something interesting and exciting to do with his famous Blaa and we were ready to try something new as well.”And so, Blaager was born, and very quickly became one of Metalman’s most sought after beers. It remains a symbol of innovation and also how effective two local companies can be when they work together.“I think it’s important for small producers to recognise that we are very much the Davids in the David versus Goliath world that is the food and beverage industry,” Grainne said. “We have to work together to make sure that we are doing our thing with each other’s support. It can be a nasty industry when you’re competing against the big companies with huge power, so it’s nice to know that there are so many other local food innovators that have each other’s backs.”

What motivates you?

“Making people happy,” Gráinne said. “There are days when things go wrong and then you’ll pull a beer for someone and they’ll say ‘this is one of the nicest beers I’ve ever tasted and it makes it all worthwhile.”

What do you think of the food and beverage industry in 2018?

“It’s multi-faceted on a very macro, large scale and can be quite a depressing place. The only thing that lifts us is the surfeit of amazing small producers that are doing really interesting things and fighting back against bland, mass produced ethically challenged food and drinks.”

What’s next for Metalman Brewing?

“Well we’ve recently opened our bar on the Quay in Waterford City and that was a big move for us, and something we always wanted to do,” Gráinne said. “Aside from that, we brought our beers to China for the first time this year and the Irish Government have asked me to go to Argentina in September to represent the Irish Craft Beer Industry.”

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