Harp Lager

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Harp Lager
WebsiteDiageo.com: Harp lager
Pale lager

Harp Lager is an Irish lager created in 1959. It is produced by the Guinness Brewery, an Irish brewing company owned by Diageo, Formerly produced at the Great Northern Brewery in Dundalk, it is now brewed at the Guinness Brewery in Dublin. It is a major lager brand throughout most of Northern Ireland, but is now rarely available in the Republic of Ireland outside Dundalk, where most bars offer it on tap.


The Royal Brewery, Moss Side, Manchester where Harp Lager was formerly brewed

Harp Lager was first produced in 1960 as a bottled beer by Guinness, in response to the trend among drinkers in Ireland and Britain towards Continental lager. Guinness converted its Dundalk brewery into a lager production plant with the guidance of Dr. Herman Muender, a German brewer.[1] Various names were considered for the brand, including Atlas, Cresta and Dolphin, before Harp was chosen.[2] The brand was marketed with the Brian Boru harp as its emblem. The Dundalk or Great Northern Brewery soon became the second largest brewery in Ireland while producing Harp during the mid to late 20th century.[3]

By 1961 a consortium of brewers, Courage, Scottish & Newcastle, Bass, Mitchells & Butlers and Guinness, grouped together as Harp Lager Ltd to brew and market the beer.[4][5] Courage's Alton Brewery was rebuilt to produce the lager in Great Britain.[2]

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.[6] Currently available on draught, and in 330ml and 500ml bottles, its top market is Ulster, especially Northern Ireland and County Donegal as well as in its original home Dundalk, County Louth where it still maintains a cult status due to the company's once significant role in the community through sponsorship at a number of levels, particularly the Dundalk Maytime Festival and Dundalk FC.[7] In 2005, Harp saw a makeover as Diageo Ireland separated the brand from Guinness.

The last Harp was brewed at Great Northern in 2013, after which production moved to St James's Gate Brewery, Dublin.[8]

In Australia, distribution is handled by Carlton & United Breweries. In North America, exports are labelled "imported from Ireland" lager from St. James Gate, Dublin on its packaging.

An advertising hoarding on Botanic Avenue Belfast


For many years the slogan "Harp stays sharp" was used in advertisements. It was written by the advertising executive Rod Allen.[9] Recently[when?] it has used the slogan "Look on the Harp side" and in Northern Ireland it’s began to use “Harp, Pure here”.


  1. ^ "Harp medal-winning lager – Diageo Ireland". replay.waybackmachine.org. Archived from the original on 8 February 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. ^ a b "The Grand Union Brewery - History of Lager". siteset.co.uk. Archived from the original on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  3. ^ "Dundalk Brewing & Distilling". Louth Whiskey Society. Retrieved 20 February 2023.
  4. ^ Lawrence A. Wenner, Steven J. Jack (2009). Sport, beer, and gender: promotional culture and contemporary social life. Peter Lang. p. 60. ISBN 9781433100765.
  5. ^ Jack S. Blocker; David M. Fahey; Ian R. Tyrrell (2003). Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History: An International Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 177. ISBN 978-1-57607-833-4.
  6. ^ "Dundalk grows and develops"archive link September 2006 (Wayback Machine), Diageo
  7. ^ "Harp launched in 1959 from brewery with rich tradition in the industry in Dundalk". independent. Retrieved 20 February 2023.
  8. ^ Irish Independent: Harp brewery shuts up shop after half-century
  9. ^ "Rod Allen – Obituary". The Times. Retrieved 12 March 2011.

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