Their history dates back well over 200 years and its fortunes have been reflected in the fortunes of Cork City itself, home to the Beamish Brewery. In 1792 large quantities of porter, which had originally become popular with the Porters of the London markets, were being imported into Ireland mainly from Bristol and Liverpool. Due to this Richard Henrick Beamish and Arthur Fredrick Sharman Crawford formed a partnership in that year and purchased an old brewery in Cramer’s Lane (now part of the grounds). The Allen family had carried brewing on there since 1715 and probably since the 1500s by others. The new company became known as The Cork Porter Brewery. Noted historian and traveller Alfred Barnard, in his 1889 book on the ‘Noted Breweries of Great Britain & Ireland’ said “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.” At South Main Street the brewery lay in the middle of the medieval city. Originally one of the old city gates stood nearby, as did the Cork jail. Indeed a stone from the jail, upon which the severed heads of the executed used to be displayed, now stands outside the counting house door at the brewery. Also from the jail, came the huge lock on the door.
The business partnership prospered and within 15years output at Beamish & Crawford had grown from 12,000 barrels per year to a phenomenal 100,000 barrels in 1805, making it the largest brewery in the country and the third largest in Britain and Ireland. In 1865 the brewery was completely rebuilt at a cost of £100,000. In 1901 the present company of Beamish & Crawford Ltd. was formed and in that year the neighbouring Southgate Brewery of Lane & Company, which had been founded in 1758, was taken over. In 1906 St. Stephen’s Brewery at Dungarven was purchased, and in 1914 the Bandon Brewing Company of Allman, Dowden and Company was acquired and became the Beamish & Crawford Bottling Company. The company suffered a setback in1920 when, due to an industrial action, the Brewery was closed for 6 weeks. The results of that closure were far reaching. During the years between 1920 and 1960 the products of the Brewery were mainly Stout and Porter, with some Ale brewing. The latter, however, was phased out from 1929 following a decline in the trade as a consequence of the withdrawal of British Troops from Ireland. In 1962,with only a limited volume of stout being produced by Beamish & Crawford, Canadian brewer Carling O’Keefe Ltd purchased the entire share capital of the company for £600,000. In 1964 the brewing of Carling Black Label lager commenced, followed by Bass Ale from 1968 and Carlsberg Lager from 1973. In 1987 Elders IXL (now Foster’s Brewing Group) purchased Canadian Breweries, which included Beamish & Crawford- shortly afterwards brewing of Fosters draught commenced at the plant. In 1995 Scottish & Newcastle plc, the largest brewery in the UK. Scottish & Newcastle have an extensive list of brands which include Newcastle Brown Ale, McEwan’s Lager, Theakston’s, John Smiths and, of course, Foster’s Lager. In 1996, Beamish & Crawford was appointed franchisee for Miller Genuine Draft by the Miller Brewing Company of Milwaukee, USA. In March 1997, Miller Genuine Draft, brewed at Beamish & Crawford in Cork, was launched in Ireland on draught and the brand is currently the fastest growing lager in the Irish market. Beamish Stout has regularly been the recipient of International Brewing Awards.
Brewery Tours are available on each Tuesday and Thursday from April to October, at 10.30am & 12.00 noon and Thursdays only from November to March at 11.00am. Tour includes a Video Presentation, tour of the Brewing Facilities and a visit to the Hospitality Room. A small admission fee will apply.