Dundalk, County Louth, in the North East of Ireland, is a town with a proud brewing heritage. The historic home of the Harp Brewery, and MacArdle Moore, two famous Irish Brands. Sadly, those breweries are now no longer operational, both acquired by Guinness, and closed by Diageo a number of years ago. However, in the waste not want not way of life, both sites are being reborn with a new purpose.
The old Harp brewery is now home to the Great Northern Distillery, ran by titan of Irish Whiskey, John Teeling, who’s children run the internationally renowned Teeling Distillery, in Newmarket Sq, Dublin. However, it’s the old MacArdle Moore site I was visiting this Friday morning.
Stationworks brewery as it was formerly known, used to be located in Newry, in Northern Ireland, with a satellite brewery in Cumbria. Stationworks was acquired by Alltech, a number of years ago.
They currently produce beer for Aldi, under The Brown Bear brand. They also produe under Stationworks Beer, Finns, and The Foxes Rock.
The late Dr Pearse Lyons, founder of Alltech, started out as a brewer, before moving into agri science. He was a proud Dundalk man, and wanted to get a brewery up and running in his homeland, after the successful establishment of Lexington Brewing & Distilling in Kentucky. Sadly, he didn’t get to see his dream realised of returning brewing to Dundalk, but Stationworks, was renamed the Pearse Lyons Brewery in his honour following his passing in 2018. Initially, something of a pet project for Dr Lyons, the business is part of Alltech Beverages, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the larger Alltech group. Despite belonging to a larger family this brewery has to stand on its own two feet.
Long time friend Dave Guilfoyle was the lucky chap showing me around after i’d gotten an invite from John O’Brien. I’m sure Dave was happy of the distraction from the end of quarterly paperwork that was due. In truth, it’s a massive space. The MacArdle Moore brewery was massive, infact, most of the old buildings have been repurposed into a business park, with a wide mix of businesses in attendance. There are nods to the site’s brewing history, with the brewhouse old control panel visible, and maltings. Along with the rows of terrace houses which would have housed workers, much like the liberties and Guinness back in the day. The old master brewer’s house was literally 200 years away, so back then, if anything went wrong, they’d to answer the call. I don’t think that’s a perk for Dave at the moment.
The 100Hl brewhouse, which is fully automated with the exception of additions of hops, and speciality grains, is a feat of engineering in itself. German engineering. All sampling points on ground level, and you can see deep into the brewhouse vessels from the raised brewing platforms. The brewhouse is located in what used to be the packaging area of MacArdle Moore, so there is plenty of space to grow.
A recent addition, is the pilot kit, which allows the brewers to take off the shackles of production brewing and have a little bit of fun under a new name, “Clocked Off”
Expect to see much more of that in the future. With Brewmaster brewing now operating in Dundalk also, it’s great to see some of Dundalk’s brewing heritage return, and hopefully it goes from strength to strength.