Behind every beer label is an interesting story! At Black Donkey Brewing, each beer was developed from a story, an experience or ancient folklore. You can own a part of this rich art history through our Beer Label Collectors Pack. If you enjoy Black Donkey Beer label artwork, scroll on to learn more about the art behind the beer!
A Brief History of Black Donkey Brewing
Black Donkey Brewery was started in 2014 after much planning, deliberation and craft beer consumption. Initially the brewery was going to be named Connacht Brewing. However the trademarking of Connacht brewing was not going to be a simple process. And so the plan changed.
The first beer that we planned to brew was a stout called ‘Asal Dubh’. We took inspiration from the Irish short story “M’asal Beag Dubh” by Galway born writer Pádraic Ó Conaire. The story is an account of the purchase of a donkey by Ó Conaire at a fair. Check out the video below which is a re-imagined animated version of “My Little Black Donkey” by the pupils of Claddagh National School, Galway City, Ireland.
“M’asal Beag Dubh” translated to English is “My Little Black Donkey”. It was thought ‘Asal Dubh’ would be a great name for the brewery. However a name in the Irish language would not transfer very well overseas if beer needed to be exported. The name that worked was ‘Black Donkey Brewing’ as no one could ever dislike a donkey and so a brewery was born.
The Artist behind Black Donkey Artwork
Andrew Dillon is the artist behind the Black Donkey artwork. Andrew is connected to the brewery by blood. You can see some of his portfolio here.
Sheep Stealer is a Saison farmhouse ale of 5.6% ABV and is our first born brew. The artwork is inspired by a nick name Roscommon folk got way back when. The beer label reads:
“In a time long ago, when legends were merely stories, the wild western tribesmen from ’round these parts set out to liberate some of the fine womenfolk from a neighbouring tribe. Hearing of the approaching raiders, the crafty women disguised themselves in sheepskins and hid amongst their sheep. A canny crew, the raiders got wise to the ruse and plucked the fine women right from the midst of their woolly flocks. To this day, the descendants of those same raiders are still known as The Sheep Stealers.”
Buck It is our 4.8% ABV hybrid Amber ale with artwork inspired by working or not working in the bog. The beer label reads:
“What is this beer? An American Amber? Maybe a little. An Irish Red? Probably not. A Belgian dubbel? Not really. At Black Donkey Brewing, we don’t follow models, we buck trends. We brew what we want, and what we hope you want too. This beer borrows from all three of the aforementioned styles, but its not faithful to any one of them. Irish base malt combines with Belgian specialty malt and American hops and yeast to make what is simply a nice buckin’ beer.”
Happy Out was a 4.5% ABV Pale Ale produced with Summer thirst quenching in mind. The artwork is inspired by working hard outdoors in hot Irish Summer weather. The beer label reads:
“When a rare blue sky appears over Ireland, even if you’re out labouring in the fields, you’re sure to be “Happy Out”
When that fleeting blue sky has buggered off to Portugal, seemingly along with half of the country. We’ve managed to bottle some for year round consumption so you can be “Happy Out” when, and wherever the mood takes you. Whether it’s a grand day for drying, or even if looks like rain…Ted.”
Beyond was our 4.8% ABV Rye Pale Ale. The Beer label reads:
“The Pale was historically the British stronghold centred on Dublin City. Our brewery is both literally and figuratively “Beyond the Pale”. Many would argue that so is our brewing. We like it like that. Being an Irish brewery doesn’t mean we have to brew just the Irish styles. “Beyond” is a tip of the hat to the many years our founders spent in the US, but also to their Irish and European roots. It’s a pale ale, but maybe not as you know it. Assertively, but not aggressively, hopped with US hops, we also want the spicy rye character, and malt complexity typical of old world country ales, to come through in the flavour profile.”
Western Warrior is our 4.2% ABV traditional, all natural, unfiltered Irish lager. The artwork is inspired by the legends of the West coast. The beer label reads:
“Beer from the right side of the mighty Shannon. It may look like the left side from space, but here, where our feet are firmly planted on the ground, we know its the right side. Sure isn’t this where all the city folk from Dublin and Dusseldorf and Dallas flock to for their Summer holidays. Driving on the wrong side of the road and scaring the sheep. The land of legends, myths and mysteries, of banshees and the little people, of hardy fishermen and their wild Atlantic ways. To hell or to Connacht is it? Not a hard decision for us. Home is where the hearth is, preferably a turf one.”
TKO (Technical Knock Out) IPA
TKO is our 5% ABV West coast IPA with artwork inspired by fighting the good fight! The beer label reads:
“TKO IPA is a Technical Knock Out of a beer. A pure and straight forward IPA. Sometimes when the ref’s back is turned, the heavy hitters may try and slip one past the judges. Just ’cause it says craft on the label doesn’t make it craft. Make sure that when your fork over some of your hard earned, you know what you’re getting, and where it comes from. You can come to the ring in a pair of clogs, but you’ll never float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, you may just end up off in the corner, plucking your harp. Thanks for supporting a true independent, local brewery. We hope you enjoy the fruits of our labour.”
The Arigna series was a trilogy of limited edition beers. The beer labels read:
“The Arigna series of limited edition beers is named for the former coal mining area in our home county of Roscommon, where hardy men pried the black golf, chip by chip, from under the mountain. After centuries of tunnelling and extraction, mining at Arigna finally ceased in 1990.
Arigna Series #1 – 2015 – Dark Biére de Garde (7.5% ABV)
“25 years on, this beer, the first in our Arigna series draws some influence from the Biéres de Garde of France’s coal mining Nord-Pas-de-Calais region.”
Arigna Series 2016 – Dubbel Saison (8.3% ABV)
“26 years on, this beer, the second in our Arigna series draws some influence from our own “Sheep Stealer” Irish Farmhouse Ale, with a little Belgian Dubbel, a style developed in a monastic that sits on top of Belgium’s Campine coal field, thrown in for good measure.”
Arigna Series 2017 – Amber Spelt Saison (8.0% ABV)
“27 years on, this beer, the third in our Arigna series, uses our house saison yeast to ferment a grist bill containing a healthy measure of spelt. Regarded by the ancient Greeks as a gift from the goddess demeter, spelt is nearly as old as Arigna coal, but infinitely tastier.”
The Underworld series of native Irish beers was born out of our quest for adventure, our sense of history and our respect for tradition. The story of how this beer came to be is recounted in our blog the Wild Yeast Chase. Ancient tales and stories of Queen Medb and the warrior Goddess Mórrígan at Samhain inspired the beer label art designs. The Underworld logo was inspired by the entrance to Oweynagat cave near Rathcroghan Heritage Centre in Tulsk, Co. Roscommon. All the design work was undertaken by Roscommon creative Ellen Egan from Dimple Design.
Each Underworld beer is represented by an animal connected to the legendary cave, with its accompanying backstory on the label. The three beers are:
Art and Beer go well together!
Our beer label artwork much like our beers all have backstories. Maybe some day we will get to brew that stout! We came into existence 8 years ago, and we have been brewing without boundaries ever since. Discover our beers in all good stockists or shop directly from our brewery shop or webshop.
Handmade Irish Beer from Roscommon!