Tap tales: Elliot Hughes, Porterhouse Brewing

Elliot Hughes is a partner at Ireland’s Porterhouse Brewing. The son of the late co-founder of the business, Oliver Hughes, Elliot, like his father, studied law before entering the beer industry. Founded in 1989, Porterhouse opened Ireland’s ‘first’ brewpub, The Porterhouse in Temple Bar, in 1996. Since then, it has opened sites in London and Wicklow and also owns a franchise in New York. This month, it announced it was investing €6 million in a new brewery in Dublin complete with a visitor centre and tap room. Here, Elliot shares how he first got into beer, how he resents the “anti-competitive, dog-eat-dog nature” of the big brewers and why he just can’t get along with sour beers.

When did you first get into beer?

For me, beer has been a slow burner if I’m completely honest. I guess I started to get more and more into beer as the range of beer grew. The limited offerings that appeared in the bars of Ireland never appealed to me whilst growing up, however as we started to see a broader variety introduced into the market, I started to take more notice and really get involved.

Which brew sparked your love of beer?
I don’t think there was just one spark but I’ve always enjoyed Lagunitas IPA and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale whilst our own Dublin Pale Ale is a beer that I will always keep going back to.

What would you be as a beer?
I reckon I would be a good, flavoursome pale ale. Outgoing but without being too mad.

What is your favourite hop variety and why?
Amarillo. I really like the citrus, orangey flavour that it gives beer.

Who is your inspiration in the beer world?
My inspiration in the beer world was my father, Oliver Hughes. He and his cousin Liam LaHart founded the Porterhouse Brewing Company and were often referred to as the godfathers of craft beer in Ireland. They were way ahead of their time and inspired a lot of other brewers in Ireland and certainly inspire me.

Where are you happiest?
Enjoying a good beer in the sun down in Dingle in the west of Ireland, a magical place.

What is your greatest vice?
It has to be between a great beer or a really good gin. Sipping either, or both, at the end of a good day’s work. You can’t beat it.

What are the best and worst things about the beer industry?

The best is meeting new people and trying new beers. The worst is certainly the anti-competitive, dog-eat-dog nature of the big boys causing problems for everyone else.

What is your proudest achievement in beer?

I think the opening of our new brewery was a really proud milestone moment. To see the dream of the team behind the Porterhouse Brewing Company finally come to life, a dream that has been 17 years in the making, made me feel very proud to be part of it.

What is your ultimate beer and food pairing?
I love a darker ale with a really good, earthy cheese. Something you can really get your teeth into, that packs a punch and satisfies the senses.

Which beer style do you find it impossible to get along with?
Sours. I appreciate people enjoy them, and they have a time and place, but I don’t get them whatsoever and they wouldn’t be my beer of choice.

If you weren’t working in beer, what would you be doing?
I really enjoy the drinks industry as a whole so most likely it would always have been within the drinks sector. I studied law at university, so that could have been an option, but I just preferred the other type of bar!

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