It really seems to be a case that size matters...

Living in the shadows of a giant can never be an easy experience, and carving out an identity of your own, even harder!

But, in a land where one beer style dominates how do you meet that challenge and succeed? 

The answer, ironically, could lay in playing the opponent at its own game, but adding a twist of versatility and variety into the mix, strengths that a smaller operator has to offer over its larger counterpart. 

Yes, size it seems really does matter, and the brewery in question is the Porterhouse Brewery at Temple Bar in Dublin, Ireland.

In terms of size Porterhouse has grown considerably since its origins in 1996, but still retains the  original craft ethos, something which large scale commodity brewers have long since abandoned.

The irony of growth and size is the incapacity to adapt and re-invent without huge financial marketing outlay, which again is driven by the sheer size of the operation, which in turn requires the high spend. It is a case of the chicken and the egg.

This is all well and good if a new brand succeeds in connecting with the public, but more often than not these become short lived affairs, failing to take hold, and silently disappearing off the scene.

The brewing industry is littered  with such products where national brewers have attempted to tap into a growing fad or trend and replicate a product, only to find it has misjudged the appeal, or not understood the intrinsic value of the brand. 

At its most cynical the only way to beat them is to buy them! A method deployed by many large scale brewers. Once done the values alter, and the perception of the original breweries 'independence' a strong element in its appeal, is lost.

Porterhouse however play to several strengths ( with gentle digs at their omnipresent neighbour) and it is their variation on the 'stout' theme which is perhaps their greatest strength.

Whilst Guinness officially have two bottled styles (Original and Foreign Extra Stout) in their range, Porterhouse have juggled with stouts history to create up to as many as six in theirs on occasion, showing a wider breadth of what the 'Irish' interpretation of the style has to offer.


The current bottled range was introduced in 2009, and not unnaturally the brewery looked at other areas where there was demand also, and have a lager, American style pale ale, and cask aged beer in the range. Again this makes sense (especially the lager) given market trends and a younger generation looking toward paler style.

The range is presented in 330ml bottles which is a convenient and sensible size, especially when offering stronger brews, and are all unpasteurised.

The packaging too is a winning element, attractively designed with good follow up information on the style on the back labels - to whet the appetite!

Porterhouse are also keen to point out their true Irish credentials, with neck labels proudly proclaiming 'Ireland's Largest Genuine Irish Brewery'.

A recent tasting of the range was a good opportunity to see just what the brewery had to offer, and the beers are rated out of six

PORTERHOUSE RED ALE    4.4% Alc/vol.

A traditional Irish style more often to be found abroad than in its native land. The beer was mid weight with subtle malt flavours, lacking a touch of character.  Rating: 3/6


As the name suggests one for the hop enthusiasts, but not as overtly powerful as the name suggests. Good in a US 'East Coast' ale style. Rating: 4/6 


In the true tradition of oyster stouts this beer does indeed contain fresh oyster's, which lends it a smooth well balanced character and is nicely made. a great example of the style. Rating: 5/6


Said to be the favoured style of Michael Collins the Irish leader . Assertive 'dry' roast bean notes but flavour kept in check without overpowering the palate. Rating: 5/6


As the name suggests a strong ale of formidable strength! The beer is a touch alcoholic and tart on the finish. Rating: 3/6 


Described by the brewery as 'Imperial Irish Stout' this does indeed warrant the royal designation!  The distinctive roast barley characteristics travel impressively from aroma through to palate, showing this to be a serious, complex ,very well made stout, and one for beer 'academics' to delight in!  Rating: 6/6  



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