Saturday 24 March 2018

O'Hara's overtakes Porterhouse as top Irish craft beer brewer

Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

O'Hara's brewery has become the biggest Irish craft brewer in terms of production capacity and is aiming for a 20pc growth in sales volumes this year.

The Carlow-based firm has overtaken the Porterhouse, an industry source told the Sunday Independent, and chief executive Seamus O'Hara says he's ambitious for the company's future.

"Our business has grown quite a bit over the last couple of years. We've been adding capacity and bringing in some staff over the last year but we were getting thin on resources in certain parts of the business on the back of the growth," Mr O'Hara told the Sunday Independent.

He said competition between smaller brewers and the "big three" drinks companies - Diageo, Heineken and C&C - has been intense.

"We're all out selling into the same market, the same bars. If we get a beer line into a bar it's coming from somebody.

"My thinking on it would be that as craft grew rapidly, it started to have an impact, albeit relatively small. And I suppose everybody who's selling into that space is going to react to that."

Mr O'Hara said his company hasn't had any takeover interest from the major companies, but that he would "never say never" in terms of accepting an attractive approach.

"But it's not really where my mindset is... it's about building our own independent operation and not being beholden to anybody.

"To me, craft brewing is about independent brewing, brewing what we want to brew, having our flexibility. That's where our focus is," he said.

Mr O'Hara called for the Government to reform Ireland's licensing laws, which make it prohibitively expensive for small brewers to sell pints to brewery visitors.

O'Hara's sold two million litres of drink last year. Earlier this week it announced it would create 12 new jobs within three months following a €1.5m investment.

Sunday Indo Business

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