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|Type||Irish red ale|
|Country of origin||Ireland|
|Variants||Kilkenny cream ale|
Smithwick's /ˈsmɪθɪks/ is an Irish red ale-style beer from Kilkenny, Ireland. It is a clear beer with a red colour. Smithwick's was originally created as a special brew for the first Kilkenny Beer Festival. It was later renamed Smithwick's No. 1 but is known today as Smithwick's.
Smithwick's was founded by John Smithwick in 1710. It was originally brewed in St. Francis Abbey Brewery in Kilkenny which is Ireland's oldest operating brewery. The brewery is situated on the site of a Franciscan Abbey where monks had brewed ale since the 14th century, and ruins of the original abbey still remain on its grounds. The old brewery has since been renovated and now stands "The Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny" visitor attraction and centre.
John Smithwick was an orphan of the Irish rebellion who had settled in Kilkenny. Shortly after his arrival, Smithwick went into the brewing business with Richard Cole on a piece of land that Cole had leased from the Duke of Ormond in 1705. Five years later, John Smithwick became the owner of the land. The brewery stayed small, servicing a loyal local following while John Smithwick diversified.
Following John Smithwick's death, the brewery temporarily fell out of family hands. John Smithwick's great grandson, Edmond bought the brewery land back freehold and worked to reshape its future. Edmond concentrated on discovering new markets and successfully building export trade. Drinkers in England, Scotland and Wales developed a taste for Smithwick's brews and output increased fivefold.
As a result of substantial contributions made to St Mary's Cathedral, Edmond became great friends with Irish liberal Daniel O'Connell, who later became godfather to one of his sons. Edmond Smithwick became well known and respected by the people of Kilkenny who voted him town mayor four times.
In 1800, export sales began to fall and the brewing industry encountered difficulty. To combat this, the Smithwick family increased production in their maltings, began selling mineral water and delivered butter with the ale from the back of their drays.
By 1900, output was at an all-time low and James Smithwick was advised by auditors to shut the doors of the brewery. Instead, James reduced the range of beers they produced and set out to find new markets. He secured military contracts and soon after saw output increase again. James' son, Walter, took control in 1930 and steered the brewery to success through the hardships of both World War II and increasingly challenging weather conditions. By January 1950, Smithwick's was exporting ale to Boston.
Smithwick's was purchased from Walter Smithwick in 1965 by Guinness and is now, along with Guinness, part of Diageo. Together, Guinness & Co. and Smithwick's developed and launched Smithwick's Draught in 1966. By 1979, half a million barrels were sold each year.
In 1980, Smithwick's began exporting to France. In 1993, Smithwick's Draught became Canada's leading imported ale. As of autumn 2010, Smithwick's continues to be brewed in Dundalk and Kilkenny with tankers sent to Dublin to be kegged for the on trade market. Cans and bottles are packaged by IBC in Belfast. As of 31 December 2013 production in the Kilkenny brewery finished. Smithwicks is now being produced in St.James Gate. The original Kilkenny site was sold to Kilkenny County Council, with a small portion of the site dedicated to the opening of a visitor's centre, the "Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny".
Smithwick's Pale Ale
In 2011, Smithwick's extended their range for the first time since 1983 with the launch of Smithwick's Pale Ale. The ale is made of pale ale malt, traditional Smithwick's yeast and Amarillo hops and has an ABV of 4.5%. While pale in colour, it is not a typical India pale ale, just a lighter-coloured variation on red ale. Smithwick's Pale Ale is currently available in over 350 outlets across Ireland.
Official Smithwick's videos give the pronunciation as (//). Due to the differing accent and dialects of Ireland, it is generally pronounced //, //, // or // there but never // or //. When ordering in the US, // or // is preferred, while // is the most prevalent pronunciation in Canada.
"In the Old Kilkenny Review, year unknown, Peter Smithwick, K.M., Solicitor, wrote that the tradition of Kilkenny is that Sullivan's Brewery was founded in 1702 ... Daniel Sullivan, allegedly a Protestant, bought the property in trust for Pierse Bryan of Jenkinstown, who was Catholic but prohibited by the Penal Laws from buying land ... Twenty years later a Protestant informer got a decree declaring himself the owner of the property ... The property was on the West side of High Street, 'standing backward in James' Street.' It is believed that this was the site of Sullivan's Brewery, the forerunner of Smithwicks."
- Smithwick's Draught has a red tone. It is produced using hops and roasted, malted barley. In 2004, Diageo PLC began distribution in the USA. Smithwick's had previously been marketed in Canada.
- Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale is similar to Smithwick's Draught; however, it has a cream head similar to Guinness, and it has a stronger and more bitter taste than Smithwick's. The Kilkenny name was originally used during the '80s and '90s to market a stronger version of Smithwick's for the European and Canadian market due to difficulty in pronunciation of the word "Smithwick's", but it now refers to a similar yet distinctly different beer.
- Smithwick's ale has been awarded seven gold medals in the Monde Selection Beer Tasting Competition
- Diageo – Smithwicks
- "Smithwick's Ireland YouTube". Retrieved 25 December 2014.
- <While dining in the Restaurant Pierre Gilbaud, Lower Baggot St., Dublin, with then-US Ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith, I asked her to attempt to obtain for me a piece titled "The Sullivans of Kilkenny." She was gracious enough to put her staff to work and forwarded the piece as partially quoted above.>
- Diageo – Prizes