I think while the Irish "craft beer revolution" seems big to us brewers/home brewers who are part of it and involved in it, the truth is that the average joe soap can't stand the taste of the stuff, and would much prefer a Guinness or a Heineken, and while some publicans are making an effort to diversify, they can't really order in a new range of bottles or start getting kegs when there might only be three or four patrons who'll actually buy it
Purely a case of die-hard brand loyalty to the Diageo crowd, Coors, & Heineken. Don't think it's a case of people not liking the taste of craft, it's just that the macro beer brands are so deeply ingrained in consumer consciousness that it's incredibly bloody difficult to combat. Most customers are lazy and just can't be arsed to take the 'risk' of trying something other than 'the usual'. It is changing though, but it'll take a long, long time.
Just back from MYAH in Skerries. For those who don't know, MYAH is a restaurant with a very good selection of Irish and International craft brews. Still, when they catered a party last night, they had to get a few slabs of Heineken in because they were told that a lot of the guests wouldn't try craft beer.
I try and introduce all of my friends to craft but it's difficult to do when the pub doesn't stock it.
I was in holidays in Wexford last year, was in a pub and asked about craft beers, the barwoman said she's all for it, but no one would drink it. I was left thinking...but if you don't try how will you know? In any case, she was convinced she'd be wasting her time and despite being a "supporter" she wasn't willing to support the brews.
Until someone does a representative survey with members of the Vintners, we won't really know why the majority of pub owners aren't stocking craft beer and we will all be speculating idly.
Which I'm happy to do, so here's some of my thoughts.
For one, some pub owners I have had the misfortune of talking to over the years, seem to know very little about the product on which their livelihood is based. Conversations about beer styles with them is akin to talking to a butcher who honestly couldn't tell the difference between pork and steak and who only eats sausages anyways. And not those trendy craft ones either
Often owners have inherited their trade. Some people are bone idle and are happy with just keeping things ticking over. Not really interested in taking any form of risk.
Plus, if you know next to nothing about beer, why introduce new products that you don't know how to push- or god forbid, people start asking you about. Best to stick to the same old story. No risk that way
So while lots of consumers will be swayed by marketing, fear of the unknown, comfort in current brands & drinking patterns, a lot of people are constrained by choice or lack of. So there needs to be more done to convince publicans to stock craft beer. How, when & by who- I'm not so sure.