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Cork brewery plans big expansion to attack the American market with its strong stouts

Added: Sunday, October 7th 2012

Plans are at an advanced stage to open a new brewery in Cork that will focus primarily on selling beers to the American market. Such has been the success of the Franciscan Well micro-brewery that its owners have confirmed they intend to build a new plant and increase their brewing capacity 10-fold. 

Shane Long, an owner of the 14-year-old company, said it was working closely with Enterprise Ireland to have the brewery up and running early next year. It will be in a different location in the city from its current base at North Mall. A site has not been finalised yet. 

Mr Long made his comments after the brewery won Europe’s Best Dry Stout award at the annual World Beer Awards in London. The winning stout, Shandon Export, is made from a 100-year-old recipe. It's a cousin of another award-winning Shandon Century Extra Stout, which won the best beer in Ireland award on the consumer site beoir.org. 

"This is the biggest thing that’s happened to us and it couldn’t come at a better time. Thousands of breweries took part in the competition," said Mr Long. The company has won a major contract with a U.S. importer to produce more of the 7.5% stout and is working on an even stronger beer, also for the American market. 

"We are currently working with Irish Distillers to create an even stronger stout. They have given us whiskey casks which we will brew the stout in. The stout was 6% going in but we don’t know what it will be coming out, although it will definitely be the strongest we’ve ever made," Mr Long said. 

He added that the stout would take months to mature but would be ready for the Christmas market. Currently the micro-brewery, which employs just three people, produces 4,000 50-litre kegs of beer every year. 

*See the feature Good beer -- and choice -- return to Ireland on this site .