65cm x 50cm Fermoy Co Cork
Beamish and Crawford operated until 2009 and had a number of owners, including Carling O’Keefe, Elders IXL, Scottish & Newcastle and, most recently, Heineken International. While the Beamish and Crawford brewery closed in 2009, Beamish stout is still brewed in the city, at a nearby Heineken operated facility.
The Beamish and Crawford brewery was founded in 1792, when two merchants, William Beamish and William Crawford, went into partnership with two brewers, Richard Barrett and Digby O’Brien. They purchased an existing brewery (from Edward Allen) on a site in Cramer’s Lane that had been used for brewing since at least 1650 (and possibly as early as 1500).
Beamish and Crawford’s Cork Porter Brewery prospered, and by 1805 it had become the largest brewery in Ireland and the third largest in the then United Kingdom as a whole. In 1805, its output was 100,000 barrels per annum – up from 12,000 barrels in 1792. It remained the largest brewery in Ireland until overtaken by Guinness in 1833.
In 1865, the brewery underwent a modernisation programme and was completely revamped at a cost of £100,000. Alfred Barnard, a noted brewing and distilling historian, remarked in his book Noted Breweries of Great Britain & Ireland in 1889 that:
- “The business of Beamish & Crawford in Cork is a very old one dating as far back as the seventeenth century and it is said to be the most ancient porter brewery in Ireland.”
The company went public in 1901, issuing a share capital of £480,000. Further expansion was aided by the acquisition of a number of local breweries in the early 1900s. In 1962, it was purchased by the Canadian brewing firm Carling-O’Keefe Ltd, who embarked on a modernisation programme at the brewery. In 1987, Elders IXL purchased Canadian Breweries (incorporating Carling-O’Keefe). In 1995, Elders sold the brewery to Scottish & Newcastle.
In December 2008, it was announced that the Beamish and Crawford brewery was to close in March 2009 with the loss of 120 jobs. Production was moved to the nearby Heineken Brewery (previously Murphy’s), with about forty of the Beamish staff moved to Heineken.
The brewery buildings (including the Tudor fronted “counting house”) are still in the heart of Cork’s medieval city, close to the South Gate. The original brewery facilities are subject to planning permission for use as a visitor and events centre.
Before the takeover and closure of the brewery, beers included:
- Beamish stout, Beamish and Crawford’s flagship product, now brewed by Heineken at the Murphy’s brewery.
- Beamish Red, a sweetish Irish red ale, made to resemble Kilkenny or Murphy’s Irish Red. Production ceased immediately following the takeover. Several Cork pubs which once stocked Beamish Red replaced it with Franciscan Well Rebel Red.
In addition to their own beers, Beamish and Crawford brewed and distributed a number of internationally known brands of beer, with the Irish franchises for Fosters, Kronenbourg 1664 and Miller. Fosters has remained with the new owners, while Miller was transferred to a new distributor, importing the beer from SABMiller‘s Netherlands brewery.In 2009, after just over two years of being reintroduced to the US market, owners Heineken decided to stop distribution of Beamish products outside Ireland.