Smithwick’s is a red ale type beer which is made from malt, yeast, water and hops. The name Smithwick has been synonymous with the ancient city of Kilkenny, Ireland for centuries. The Smithwick’s brewery has been an integral part of the commercial and social life of that city since its foundation over 300 years ago.
Smithwicks brewery was founded by John Smithwick in the year 1710 on the site of a Franciscan Abbey. Franciscan monks had been brewing ale in Kilkenny since the 14th century and the ruins of the Franciscan Abbey can still be seen on the grounds of the brewery. For over a hundred years the brewery was a local supplier. Edmond Smithwick, great grandson of the founder, began to export beer to England, Scotland and Wales when he took over the brewery in 1827. Over the next century the brewery continued to survive many ups and downs until it taken over by Guinness in 1965.
Following the takeover, the brewery launched Smithwick’s draught beer in 1966. During the following decades new export markets were opened. By 1993 Smithwick’s Draught was the leading imported ale in Canada. It began being exported to the United States in 2004.
Production of Smithwick’s came to an end in Kilkenny in December 2013. It is now produced at the Guinness brewery in St James Gate in Dublin. A visitor’s centre called ‘The Smithwicks Experience Kilkenny’ now occupies part of the old brewery site.
It was announced in Stamford, Connecticut that Smithwick’s would be on sale in the USA in the year 2004 On This Day.
Ireland’s Oldest Brewery
Smithwick’s Brewery built around ruined Abbey
Photo by D&S McSpadden