Great Northern Brewery, Dundalk

The Great Northern Brewery
Founded 1846
Headquarters Dundalk, Ireland
Owner Irish Whiskey Company

The Great Northern Brewery, on the Carrick Road, Dundalk was an Irish brewery home to Harp Lager, formerly owned by Diageo. In 2015 the brewery closed and was redeveloped as a distillery by the Irish Whiskey Company. Production of Harp Lager was to be moved to St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin.


The Great Northern Brewery in Dundalk, Ireland was 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:


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.

On the 30th of September 2013, all brewing and processing ceased and the brewery was officially closed by Diageo. Dismantling and removal of certain facilities to St. James' Gate in Dublin continued into 2014. At the same time it was announced that the Teeling Whiskey Company, run by John Teeling, would acquire the site and convert the brewery into a distillery.[4] On 31 July 2015 distilling began for the first time with the brewery having been renamed as The Great Northern Distillery.[5]

Great Northern Distillery

John Teeling, founder of the Cooley Distillery and director of the Irish Whiskey Company, announced distilling had begun at the renamed Great Northern Distillery for the first time on 31 July 2015. This came after €10 million of a planned €35 million investment was used to bring the distillery into production. The distillery will initially focus on catering for the third party whiskey market. The Great Northern Distillery became the second largest and only the third grain distillery in Ireland. It maintains the use of spring water from the Cooley Peninsula as a key feature of production, just as the brewery had before.[5]


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