Still here for the beer – how Deveneys of Dundrum is thriving 105 years on

The word institution is often overused.

But what else can you call a business established in 1909, which has occupied the same corner site in Dundrum for forty years and today is run by Ruth, justifiably proud to tell you she’s one of the fourth generation of shopkeeping Deveneys.

It’s not a stuffy institution, though.In fact, it’s hard to imagine a friendlier shop, where there’s always someone on hand to guide your search for something good to drink at a price that represents good value.

Truth be told, Deveneys has always been evolving.The original Deveneys was in Rathgar, explains Ruth, and it was a general groceries store. ‘It was my grandparents who first started selling wine, spirits and beer back in the 1950s,’ she says.

Ruth Deveney, Deveney's of Dundrum

Ruth Deveney with her extensive selection of international craft beers.

Today two wine shops in the city bear the name.Ruth’s store on Main Street, Dundrum and another in Rathmines, run independently by a cousin of her father’s.

Recent times have been challenging for off-licences.’The big change happened six or seven years ago,’says Ruth.’Our sales of commercial lagers fell through the floor.’

In 2005 the Groceries Order, which banned the selling of goods below cost price, was abolished.Then in the years that followed, the supermarkets, who generally were new to off sales, used their buying power to attract customers with low price New World wines and big, inexpensive boxes of major brand beers.

For Ruth, the change in the drinks market forced her to take a close look at the family business. ‘I had to work out how to make it work,’ she recalls.

Salvation came in the unlikely shape of imported craft beer.At the time, Ruth wasn’t a fan.’I didn’t have that much passion for beer back then.After all, I was in the business of selling wine and spirits.’

But soon Ruth was smitten.‘There was no way really to learn about beer at that time in Ireland. So I had to do it myself, through tastings and eventually a monthly beer club. I started my blog at this time which was about learning about beer from an amateur perspective.’

It became a serious proposition pretty quickly. Seeing a gap in the market, Ruth staged a series of international beer festivals, which drew appreciative crowds to Dublin and Dundrum locations year after year.

Beer choice in Dundrum

The right beer for the right occasion.

Today, craft beer is everywhere and, on the back of Ruth’s blog and festivals, Deveneys has a enviable reputation for the depth and quality of its choice of ales from all over the world.

Craft beer sales are increasing year on year but Ruth still feels that in Ireland there’s still some way to go.

‘Some people hear the word ale and associate it with that dark, murky stuff you see a character in Coronation Street drinking in the bar of The Rover’s Return.

‘It’s a bit of a mental block to get over for some but more and more are realising the variety of beers available now.Craft beer is quite a seasonal product. This time of year people go for darker styles like Belgian Doubles and Triples. Once you hit the summer you are looking at pale ales, IPAs and Weiss beers which go well with salads.’

Most craft beer fans still tend to be older men, says Ruth, but that’s changing too, ‘It’s quite nice to see younger guys moving into craft beers instead of their cans of commercial lagers.’

Ruth hopes the rise in popularity of craft beer is part of the move to more responsible drinking, with a focus on quality, rather than quantity.

Sierra Nevada torpedo pale canShe’s also noticed an inversion of usual male/ female shopping traits.’Women will buy beauty products, for example, because of the packaging alone.They tend to shop with their eyes. Men normally are not like that. They tend to do their research before they go shopping and only buy with solid evidence that something is good.

‘But that doesn’t seem to apply to craft beer. US ales are fantastic but part of their success is because they are so inventive, so creative with their labels. The look of Sierra Nevada, for example, really helped it launch the brand into Ireland.’

So what are Ruth’s current favourites?

‘Stones is a San Diego brewery which is fairly new to Ireland and their range is great. But the best beer I have tasted so far this year is a limited edition from Irish brewer Porterhouse called The Devil’s Half Acre. It’s a black IPA which is aged in Kilbeggan casks. It is brewed at around 6.5% abv but when it is put in the casks, the alcohol level goes up to 13.5%. It’s smashing.’

Ruth’s beer blog
Deveneys of Dundrum
31 Main Street,
Dundrum,
Dublin

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