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Introducing our Senior Brewer – who plays Gaelic football for Argentina!

From brewing in Argentina to joining us in Sligo, Juan made the step in 2021. This year, he's playing for Argentina in the GAA World Games in Derry. Vamos !

There are certain things you expect when a brewer from the far side of the world joins your brewery. You expect them to bring new ideas drawn from the beer culture of their home country. If they’re good – and our brewers are very good – you expect them to marry those ideas with what they learn about our own beer culture. However, when Juan Grasso left his native Buenos Aires in Argentina and began working with us at Lough Gill Brewery in Sligo in November 2021, he brought more than a little of the unexpected with him.

In truth, we didn’t anticipate that Juan would be a keen student of Irish history and mythology, and it certainly took us by surprise that he played Gaelic football! In fact, Juan is a Gaelic football international player with Argentina and will be lining out for them in the GAA World Games in Derry this July.


Juan Grasso GAA Argentina National Team

 Juan Grasso plays for Argentina in GAA World Games 2023

Now Senior Brewer with Lough Gill, Juan had visited Ireland three times before deciding to make Sligo his home. “I came here for the first time in 2017 with my girlfriend Erika, who is now my wife, and I loved it. The people here are so nice. We came here because I was so interested in the history and the mythology. I’ve always had an interest in Nordic and Celtic mythology. That was the beginning – an interest in history, castles and countryside,” he says.

That trip in 2017, his first time in Europe, turned out to be lifechanging for Juan as it led to him changing his career and moving across the world with Erika. “I had been an electronic technician for 11 years in Argentina, but on that trip, I did some beer tours, kept a list of all the beers I drank – about 40 – and developed an interest in homebrewing,” he says.

“When I got home, I wanted to keep the memory of the trip alive, so I started making small batches of beer, like 20 litres. Then I went for 200 litres and then 1,000 litres. Then I stopped working as an electronic technician and worked as a leader on the canning line of Portlander Fermentation Lab, a major brewery in Buenos Aires.”

When his homebrewing reached scale, Juan founded Wulver Brewing Company, a contract brewery in Buenos Aires, with Erika and his twin brother Federico. Juan represented Lough Gill Brewery on his last visit home and collaborated on brews with Wulver Brewing Company, Capitán Lúpulo Brewery & Klooster Brewery, all of whom have various beers available in Argentina.

“Even during the first trip, we had started thinking about moving to Ireland, and in 2018, when we were here on our honeymoon, we decided we had to move here. We finally managed to do that in 2021. I remember that I paid for the flights before I looked for a job. Then I started applying to breweries and distilleries, and I got an online interview with James and Jordan at Lough Gill Brewery,” he says.

“It was a big thing for them to recruit somebody who lived 10,000 kilometres away, but they did it, and I really appreciate the trust and faith they had in me from the beginning. The brewery is an excellent place to work. It’s like a second home.”

Juan first encountered Gaelic football during their honeymoon in Killarney. “I fell in love with Gaelic. I wanted to play it. The sport is so dynamic. So, when I got back to Argentina I started playing with Hurling Club in Buenos Aires. It was founded by Irish people in Hurlingham 100 years ago,” he says.

“I even tried hurling twice when I was in Argentina. It’s too difficult for me, but it’s very interesting.”

In 2019, Juan travelled to the GAA World Games in Waterford with the Argentina team – who had won the tournament in 2015. “It was incredible. A mix of emotions. We actually won a trophy by beating Brittany in the Shield Final. It was a great moment,” he says.

That time he came over with Argentina. This time, he is joining up with them here for the GAA World Games in Derry from July 23rd to 28th.  In Sligo, Juan plays as a right half back for the St Mary’s Junior team.

Having spent the vast majority of his 35 years in Argentina, Juan isn’t quite ready to call Ireland home just yet. “It kind of is, but it’s tricky,” he says. “For now, it’s too early to say, but I really love it.”


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