Great Northern Brewery, Dundalk

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The Great Northern Brewery
Founded 1846
Headquarters Dundalk, Ireland
Owner Diageo

The Great Northern Brewery, on the Carrick Road, Dundalk is an Irish brewery home to Harp Lager, currently owned by Diageo. In 2014 the brewery will shut and is to be redeveloped as a distillery. Production of Harp Lager is to be moved to St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin.


The Great Northern Brewery in Dundalk, Ireland is the second largest brewery in Ireland after St James’s Gate Brewery. 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 Ale of Kilkenny and subsequently by Guinness.

Up until 1960, the brewery had produced stout and ale. However, in response to an increased demand for lager at that time, Guinness converted the brewery into a modern lager operation.[1] Working with German master brewer, Dr Hermann Muender, and local ingredients, Harp Lager was created.[2]


Within 12 months of launch in 1960, Harp had become an established brand throughout Ireland. A year later it was launched nationwide in Britain. This success meant that the brewery’s capacity had to be expanded to meet demand.

Today, the brewery has extensive facilities and it produces and packs a collection of beers and ales, including Harp Lager, Smithwick's Ale, Satzenbrau Pils, Carlsberg and Warsteiner. Some 80 people are employed across a range of disciplines including production, supply, customer service, technical and quality control.[2] In recent years there has been substantial investment which has seen the addition of:

  • A new brewhouse
  • Additional fermentation vessels
  • A pall filtration plant
  • A carbonation/nitrogenation plant in the existing filtration centre.

Proposed Closure[edit]

On the 9th of May 2008, Diageo announced that the brewery, along with its Kilkenny plant, would be closed by 2013 with operations moving to either St. James's Gate or a new brewery to be built near Dublin.[3] However due to the declining property markets throughout the globe Diageo has reassesed its decision and put all closures on hold for the foresee able future much to the delight of the local population in Dundalk. This decision has however come at a cost with the Kegging Facilities in Dundalk being ceased and moved to St James Gate in Dublin this is expected to take place in mid-July or shortly after. The working staff shall be reduced and many contractors shall be finishing up their time meaning in effect a reduction in staff from 82 bodies to 53 bodies not taking into account the contractors.

Great Northern Distillery[edit]

John Teeling, founder of the Cooley Distillery and director of the Irish Whiskey Company, has revealed plans to redevelop the brewery as a distillery in a €35 million investment. The distillery will be the second largest in Ireland and will cater mainly for the third party whiskey market, a market Cooley catered for prior to the Beam takeover. Their first whiskey will be produced by 2018 at the earliest. [4]


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