Brewing makes comeback in Dundalk, former home of Harp

Dundalk Bay company agrees contracts with number of microbreweries

Faye Healy of Dundalk Bay Brewery: “You only have to look at the US, which is years ahead of us in terms of craft brewing, to see that it is here to stay.”

Faye Healy of Dundalk Bay Brewery: “You only have to look at the US, which is years ahead of us in terms of craft brewing, to see that it is here to stay.”

 

Brewing is returning to Dundalk, Co Louth, as production soon commences at a new 45-hectolitre, fully automated craft beer brewery.

Dundalk Bay Brewery Company, which can be controlled by an iPhone, is now fully operational after testing.

“We’re focusing on contract brewing on behalf of others that do not have the capacity to brew themselves, of which there are many in Ireland and the UK,” says founder Faye Healy. “We will also be brewing our own beers intermittently, which will consist of IPAs, lager, red ales and stouts, and be primarily for export.”

Contracts have been agreed with a number of microbreweries, and Ms Healy says she is in talks with a number of large retailers about brewing for them.

Ms Healy is also a director of Spectac International, a manufacturer of stainless steel products.

Spectac began building brewhouses a number of years ago, beginning with a 25-hectolitre facility for Rye River Brewery in Co Kildare, and produces a number of beers under the McGargles brand.

Focus

Spectac, a family firm established by Tony Healy in 1986, was previously awarded a €1.5 million contract to develop a distillery for Teeling Whiskey in Dublin’s Liberties.

It also carried out all the underground drainage and hatchbox installations for Diageo’s €169 million brewhouse at St James’s Gate, and worked on the Tullamore Dew distillery in Co Offaly. The company has also manufactured the new brewery on behalf of Dundalk Bay, which in 2015 received planning permission to change part of a facility next to Spectac’s manufacturing plant at the Finnabair Business and Technology Park into a separate brewing facility.

The new brewery will run on a 24/7 basis and initially employ 15. “We’re focused on Ireland, with the UK as our primary export target during year one,” Ms Healy says.

“From then on we’ll be looking to expand into mainland Europe and the US, where we’re already seeing interest.

“Brexit has led to delays in establishing the brewery, but we don’t expect it to have a huge impact as we go forward because there are capacity issues at so many breweries across the UK currently,” she added.

Authentic

John Teeling’s Irish Whiskey Company acquired Dundalk’s famed Great Northern Brewery, the home of Harp Lager, from Diageo in 2013 after it moved production to St James’s Gate. Dundalk was also previously home to the MacArdle Moore Brewery, which closed in 2000.

The number of microbreweries in Ireland has more than quadrupled since 2012, according to a recent Bord Bia-sponsored study, which estimated that turnover in the sector would rise by nearly 50 per cent in 2016.

Ms Healy says she expects the craft brewing industry to continue thriving, despite some recent consolidations, such as the Carlow Brewery Company’s acquisition of Craigies Cider.

“You only have to look at the US, which is years ahead of us in terms of craft brewing, to see that it is here to stay. I think people are increasingly looking for something that is both authentic and different, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”