Crafty ambitious to be among the the top 50

“We want to be one of the top 50 craft brewers in the world,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons. It’s as simple as that for one of Ireland’s most successful entrepreneurs. His ambition knows no bounds. It’s been a busy few years for Alltech in terms of growth. The company has sold off particular business units that were no longer of key focus and has also acquired a number of other companies to accelerate its growth. However, last week’s announcement was the first time that it purchased a brewery or two for that matter to boost its beverage division.

The ever-ambitious & entrepreneurial Dr. Pearse Lyons
The ever-ambitious & entrepreneurial Dr. Pearse Lyons

Alltech announced on 21 July that it has acquired The Station Works Brewery in Newry Co. Down and Cumberland Breweries Ltd, in Great Corby, Cumbria, England. The two breweries had been operating under the same ownership and had been positioning itself in the Irish market over the past number of months, on foot of its Finn Lager brand. Station Works had invested well on the branding and big hopes were being placed on its new Foxes Rock ale.

Station Works at the 2015 Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair
Station Works at the 2015 Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair

So what’s in it for Alltech? It gives them a foothold into Europe in terms of production and adds a few more beers to their portfolio. The distribution chain for Alltech is quite strong in Ireland but this deal potentially opens up the British market too. The Finn Lager could even be an attractive brand State-side. Foxes Rock could prove popular with the horsey-set (e.g. Leopardstown Races), which fits in with Alltech’s sponsorship strategy. More importantly it gives them two breweries with a combined output of 40,000 hectolitres. This gives them a platform to develop a new range of products or brew existing ones in Europe that could be sold to the local market as well as exporting further afield.

Station Works at the Irish Craft Beer & Whiskey Festival in March 2015
Station Works at the Irish Craft Beer & Whiskey Festival in March 2015

Some craft beer enthusiasts may find it difficult to accept Alltech as a “craft brewery” due to the fact that it’s part of a very large company. They’d point to the typical caveats of small, independent and traditional. As far as I’m concerned the brewery is craft. Yes, it may have corporate leanings but it’s also part of one of the biggest Irish family-owned start-ups. It’s a company that follows a path of increasing organically and through acquisitions, it’s the latter that mightn’t sit easily with everyone.

He literally wears his ambition
Literally wearing his ambition

The big question is where next for Alltech? In order to achieve the target of being in the top 50 of craft breweries worldwide, surely more take-overs can be expected. Wonder if any will come from those that have participated in the Alltech Brews and Food in recent years? There were more than a few of them that came from far and wide.

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