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Brewery Visit - Europe

Part 4: The new No 4 Brew House

Wednesday 13th May 2015

Bob Thompson

Guinness4 1Returning from our visit to the Malt House the members of the Brewery History Society returned in the same direction as they had arrived, past the Store House and the No 3 Brew House to the passenger tunnel. This was opened in 1895 and has an alignment roughly parallel to the old railway tunnel. The construction work for it was under the supervision of James Henry Greathead, who had done similar work for London’s underground railways.

This bought us to the north side of James’s Street and we were soon outside the brand new No 4 Brewery. Some background information is required to establish exactly why this brewery was built.

Guinness4 2Back In 2007, Diageo, the international drinks company that owns Guinness, decided they wanted to build a brand new brewery at Leixlip on Guinness ancestral land.

Unfortunately this announcement just preceded the worldwide recession, during which Ireland was very badly affected. A rethink was needed, especially as Dublin City Council stated they would block any move to cover the St James Street site with housing if brewing finished. So, in June 2008, the company decided that Guinness’s future remained in Dublin and a new brewery would be built on the present site.

At that time they stated that the company’s breweries in Waterford, Kilkenny and Dundalk would close. Realistically, this would have also happened if the Leixlip brewery had opened. More about these plants later, because they have interesting histories. There were many reasons why the company wished to consolidate brewing, despite having the relatively modern No 3 Brewery.

The No 3 brewery could only brew ales and stout. The provincial breweries brewed the other beers such as lagers and some ales, along with extract, so any closures would be dependent on a new brewery being established first.

Guinness4 3Another factor was that the London (Park Royal) Brewery had closed in 2007 with all of the stout for mainland UK coming from Dublin thereafter. I would like to mention this brewery later.

Nothing much happened for a few years; remember the country was in the midst of a serious recession. However once the go-ahead for the No 4 Brewery was given, things moved rapidly.

Design work began in May 2012 and the building was completed in June 2013 with the equipment installed. Obviously there was a long period of time for proving and testing and it eventually officially opened in September 2014.

Guinness4 4When we visited the No 3 brewery remained open as a reserve and was still partially used. Yet by early 2016 it had closed and all production is made on the plant of the No 4 Brew House. Sadly, we were unable to enter the new building. Please see the photograph of the entrance of the No 4 Brewery above right.

Very much on the plus side is that it is completely carbon neutral. There is an immense amount of energy and liquor (water) recovery. I think it is the greenest brewery in the world and that is very commendable. Especially so considering its enormous output of 7 million hectolitres per annum. There are three brewing lines each capable of 300,000 pints per brew, remarkable!

Guinness4 5This is the right time to look at the beers produced on this enormous brewery. From the home side there is the obvious Guinness Stout in its many versions. Then there are the ales: Smithwick’s, Kilkenny and McArdles and their own lager brand, Harp.

If you think of this plant as being the only one of two large breweries in Ireland (the other being Heineken’s Lady’s Well brewery in Cork), then is no wonder they do contract brewing of other major brands such as Carlsberg, Tuborg and Budweiser. Close to the No 4 Brew House is another plant where they brew the extract for foreign breweries.

Back across St James Street is the ten barrel (bbls) pilot plant that is used for product development and is now selectively open to the public (see article on the Guinness Open Gate Brewery).

In Part 5 I take a look (and a drink) of the extensive range of Guinness’s Stouts and Porters.

Part 4 of 7