Thursday 14th May 2015
So here we were, myself and the amenable fellow members of the Brewery History Society driving around an industrial estate to the Northwest of Dublin searching for our objective, the Porterhouse Brewery. We eventually found it located in the end unit of a nondescript building with only the name of the brewery’s parent company displayed. Never mind, we were here.
We were met by Peter Mosley, Director of Production and one of the brewers. Peter explained that this brewery came on stream in 2000 and was needed because of an expansion of the company.
At this juncture he gave us information on the pubs of Porterhouse. The story began in 1989 with the opening of the first pub in Bray, a seaside resort south of Dublin.
The company got into brewing when their flagship pub was opened. This is the Porterhouse in Parliament Street and the western edge of the Temple Bar district south of the River Liffey in Dublin’s city centre.
It opened in 1996 and incorporated a ten barrel (bbls) brewery. It was just after its opening that I first visited and liked the pub and the beers.
In 2000 they opened an outlet in Covent Garden in London and, as the Temple Bar Brewery didn’t provide enough capacity for this new venture, the brewery we were visiting was constructed.
It provided a quantum leap in capacity, being capable of a production of up to 40 barrels (bbls) per brew.
It’s worth noting that even this brewery is now only just keeping up with demand and Peter told us that the company was likely to open a 60 barrel (bbls) plant in Glasnevin, just north of the Dublin city centre, within a year.
Basically the site we were visiting was purely a production site where brewing, kegging, casking and bottling were undertaken. Warehousing and even the laboratory were at other locations. This is as a direct result in the need to provide more space for storage of kegs, casks and bottles prior to packaging.
In turn, this need was driven by the increased amount of brewing done on the plant as new outlets opened. The brewery is very tight on space, I think that is evident from the photographs.
The beers are created using an infusion mash. Only Irish malt is used and overall they brew 18 different beers. I suppose some of these are specials. The copper is directly fired by gas, quite unusual these days. The beers, depending on type, undergo a boil of between one and one and a half hours.
The stouts and porters use Galena and Nugget hops, the lagers have the German hops Perle and Hersbrucker. The ales are made with East Kent Goldings and Styrian Goldings. American-style ales are brewed with Cascades and Centennial hops.
They have fermentation vessels of differing capacities, even one of 80 barrels which is a double brew. Ales are given a three to four day maturation, longer for the stronger ones. TSB is the only cask beer to be found in all of their pubs but Hop Head is often casked. The Porterhouse Central in Dublin is a good location to find this beer. Ales and lagers are filtered and the draught stouts and porters are unpasteurised in their pubs.
Naturally they use two yeasts, one for ales and the other for lagers. 85% to 90% of their production is kegged with a very small amount to cask and the remainder is bottled. In metric, their current production is 12,000 hectolitres per annum. Peter told us that their new brewery will be capable of producing 100,000 hl with four shifts working seven days a week but will normally turn out around 30,000 hl. I’m glad he said that because 100,000 hl would put it into the large brewery category.
Finally Peter told us about their company’s latest venture, the Dingle Distillery. This was already in production and the first whiskies were to due arrive this year (2015). I’m sure he said the Gin and Vodka were already available. This is very much the trend in both the UK and Ireland. In Ireland the new distilleries appear to be quite large and obviously have designs on the main market and are not necessarily wanting to be regarded as niche products.
It was a very informative visit and we thanked Peter profusely for hosting us. This was a private visit and I am fairly certain that the company does not normally host them.