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Oldest Brewery In Ireland Closes

I’m a little behind on this one, but thought it worth mentioning all the same. Last Friday, a week ago, the oldest brewery in Ireland was shut down. Heineken, who’s owned the Beamish & Crawford Brewery in Cork since last October, decided in December to close the brewery and move production elsewhere to cut costs. The brewery, located on South Main Street, has been making beer since 1690, making it Ireland’s oldest brewery. There had been talk of turning it into a museum, a plan endorsed by Cllr Brian Bermingham, The Lord Mayor of Cork. Its mock-Tudor counting house is already a “protected structure” and, according to The Independent, “the National Conservation and Heritage Group (NCHG) argued that the existing Beamish site offers an opportunity to create a tourism-heritage complex similar to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.” Heineken decided instead to sell it “on the commercial market” since they obviously couldn’t care less about the history of the place. Like any multinational corporation, they only care about short-term profit.

British beer writer Roger Protz has a nice summary of who’s owned Beamish over the past few decades, and how those events led to Heineken acquiring it last year.

While Murphy’s fell into the hands of Heineken, Beamish also had a turbulent life in the 20th century. In 1962 it was bought by the Canadian group Carling O’Keefe, which in turn was bought by the Foster’s lager group of Australia. This allowed Beamish Stout to be sold through Courage pubs in Britain as Courage was owned by Foster’s. Eventually Courage was taken over by S&N, which gave the brand little promotion in Britain but, incongruously, marketed it in France alongside its French subsidiary Kronenbourg.

Abut 120 jobs will be lost and production will be moved across town, to what for most of its existence was known as the Lady’s Well Brewery, also owned by Heineken, where they make Murphy’s Irish Stout.


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