The Dundalk brewery is the second largest brewery in Ireland after St James’s Gate. The present day brewery has been part of the town’s commercial life since 1960, but the local tradition of brewing goes back for many centuries.
Diageo’s association with brewing in Dundalk dates back to the late 1950s, when what was then the Great Northern Brewery was bought by Smithwick’s of Kilkenny and subsequently by Guinness.
Up to that time, the brewery had produced stout and ale. However, in response to demand for a quality domestic lager, Guinness undertook a major investment programme, transforming the brewery into a modern lager operation. Working with German master brewer, Dr Hermann Muender, and local ingredients, Harp lager was created.
Within 12 months of launch in 1960, Harp had become a household brand throughout Ireland. A year later it was launched nationwide in Britain. This success meant that the brewery’s capacity had to expand tenfold to meet demand.
Today, the brewery has extensive facilities and it produces and packs a collection of beers and ales, including Harp, Smithwick’s, Satzenbrau, Carlsberg and Warsteiner. Some 80 people are employed across a range of disciplines including production, supply, customer service, technical and quality control.
The story of the Dundalk brewery is one of continuous improvement and innovation. Substantial investment has seen the addition of:
- A new brewhouse
- Additional fermentation vessels
- A pall filtration plant
- A carbonation/nitrogenation plant in the existing filtration centre.
The brewery has implemented state-of-the art processes. Industry leading technological infrastructure has led to increased productivity in the brewhouse. All stages of the brewing process are monitored technically to ensure the highest standards, as well as being checked by the skilled tasting staff.
The Dundalk brewery is approved for the ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 quality and environmental standards. In the on-site laboratory, skilled staff conduct in-process testing, checking each brew at critical stages of production. Tests are assessed immediately and adjustments undertaken quickly, to optimise production performance.
Diageo invests in both skills and technology at each brewery to ensure it benefits fully from changes in brewing processes. Dundalk has seen a significant skills development programme. As a result, the production capacity of the brewery continues to expand while meeting rigorous quality standards.
This attention to detail is matched in the packaging area, where all kegs and packs are checked and coded to make them traceable.
Raw ingredients, produced and delivered to Diageo’s high specifications, are sourced nationwide. All ingredients are assessed upon receipt and before being introduced into the brewing process. This level of control delivers consistent quality across a range of beers and ales so that the consumer experiences the perfect drink on every occasion.
- Dundalk brewery is Ireland’s second largest brewery
- Over 20 different ales and beers are produced on-site
- Harp, produced in Dundalk, is Northern Ireland’s number one lager
- 180,000 tonnes of Irish malt are supplied to the brewery annually
- Investment in Dundalk includes a €3.5 million control system, €1.3 million kegging plant upgrade and €0.6 million in safety and environment programmes.