IRELAND IS facing a potential draft beer shortage amid reports of illegal shebeens and home pubs buying up kegs during lockdown.
According to a drinks industry source who spoke exclusively to Extra, 88-pint keg barrels have become highly sought after amid renewed interest from the public.
In many cases, drinks companies have either banned the sale of these kegs or put extra controls on the trade in an attempt to ensure they are not inadvertently servicing the illegal shebeen business.
Essentially the Irish equivalent of a speakeasy, shebeens have become increasingly commonplace in Ireland during lockdown with Gardai raiding dozens of the illegal bars since last year.
According to the industry insider, it’s a situation that has left companies keeping a watchful eye on supplies, amid a huge increase in demand for several popular tipples.
The source said: “Sales of kegs of beer such as Heineken and Guinness are now so restricted that if a sales rep wants to sell a keg they have to go to a higher up, like a very senior manager.
“Before COVID it would have been unheard of for a sales rep to have to consult with a senior manager before they sold a keg of beer.
“Everyone in the trade knows that the Government is not keen on shebeens and that is why these sales restrictions have been introduced.”
With the majority of major brewers currently suspending production during lockdown, only those hotels catering to essential workers.
It’s prompted something of a mad dash among those eager to replicate the pub experience at home.
The source explained: “Because of all these restrictions, kegs of beer have become so scarce now that you can’t get one for love nor money.
“The only place you could buy a keg is from a publican that might have some left, and after that all you can do now is go to the supermarket and buy four and a half slabs of beer which isn’t the same as beer on draught.”
With traditional pubs closed since last March and no official date in place for their reopening, many have opted to offer pint and cocktail delivery services.
However, the continued operation of shebeens and home bars could impact this potential revenue stream, until major breweries recommence production.