Porterhouse: A pioneer of Irish craft brewing looks to the future

Porterhouse, founded by Oliver Hughes and Liam LaHart, had to change quickly when Covid struck

‘Without a bar, it is difficult for customers to discover new beers’

Oliver Hughes and Liam LaHart can lay claim to have founded Ireland’s first craft brewery, Harty’s, in 1983. The Porterhouse on Bray seafront came next, in 1989, followed by the first brewpub in 1996. The late Oliver Hughes’s son Elliot believes the Porterhouse range of IPAs deserves attention. “We have always produced a range of beers in every category; in 2004-5 we released Hop Head, our first IPA, and then we really went for it with the Yippy IPA.”

It is still their most successful IPA. The vast majority of new beers since have been IPAs, either seasonal or core. “I am really happy with the quality of our IPAs and juicies. They are not there to be 8-9% ABV heavyweights, they are beers to enjoy after work on Friday when you want a few pints.”

When Covid hit, the Porterhouse, which has 300 employees, had to change quickly, canning their beers for the first time, and selling them through independents, O’Briens and Lidl. “They performed really well, and helped us survive. It is now a new core part of our business. It will be interesting to see how our new beers, like Renegade, our New England IPA; and Rambler, our juicy Pale Ale, perform in the bars. At the moment, customers are ordering beers they know well. Without a bar, it is difficult for them to discover new beers. That should change on October 22nd. Table service is not the same. We just want the bars to return as normal.”