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Harp Lager is an Irish lager created in 1960 by Guinness in its Great Northern Brewery, Dundalk. It is a major lager brand throughout most of Ulster, but is a minor lager brand in the rest of Ireland.
Harp Lager was first produced in 1960 as a bottled beer by the Guinness company (now Diageo), in response to the trend among drinkers in Britain and Ireland towards Continental lager. Guinness converted its Dundalk brewery into a modern lager production plant with the guidance of Dr. Herman Muender, a distinguished German brewer. Various names were considered for the brand, including Atlas, Cresta and Dolphin, before Harp was chosen. The brand was marketed with the Brian Boru harp as its emblem.
By 1961 a consortium of brewers, Courage, Barclay & Simonds, Scottish & Newcastle, Bass, Mitchells & Butlers and Guinness, grouped together as Harp Lager Ltd to brew and market the beer. Courage's Alton Brewery, where Courage Director's had been brewed, was rebuilt to produce the lager in Great Britain.
By 1964, the product was being sold on draught and led in its category for sales. Members of the Harp consortium changed over the years, with Courage and Scottish & Newcastle leaving in 1979, but becoming franchisees. Currently available on draught, and in 330ml and 500ml bottles, its top market is Ulster, especially Northern Ireland and County Donegal. In 2005, Harp saw a makeover. Diageo Ireland separated the brand from Guinness.
On 9 May 2008, Diageo Ireland announced that it would close the Dundalk Brewery along with the Kilkenny Brewery over a five-year period. and the last Harp was brewed at Great Northern in October 2013, after which production moved to Diageo's sole Irish brewery, St James's Gate Brewery in St. James's Gate, Dublin.
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