Molson Coors UK & Ireland has bought the Franciscan Well craft beer brand and micro-brewery in Cork.
In addition, the company also plans to develop a new 75,000HL (150,000 keg) craft brewery in Cork this year, which will be the first development from its new Emerging Markets & Craft Beer unit, set up to oversee its interests in craft beer in both the UK and Ireland.
Craft beer is expected to grow from €24 million to approximately €235 million in retail sales value (c.10%) of the Irish beer market by 2017.
Molson Coors' Irish craft brewery operations will be chaired by one of Franciscan Well Brewery's founders, Shane Long, who is also the Chairman of the Irish Craft Brewers Association. "Now, as part of a global brewer that understands and respects the craft beer movement, we have a big opportunity to build an international brand and business that we just could not have achieved on our own. In the short term, our loyal and new customers can look forward to some seasonal versions of our existing beers brands and some new limited edition beers to enjoy," said Long.
The Franciscan Well Brewery was established in 1998 on a site in Cork City dating back 800 years to 1219. As well as developing a strong customer base, the brewery's beers have received international critical acclaim including the recent accolade of Europe's Best Dry Stout at the 2012 World Beer Awards for its Shandon Export Stout. Other beers brewed in North Mall, Cork, include Friar Weisse, Blarney Blonde, Rebel Red and Rebel Lager.
Molson Coors Ireland will expand Franciscan Well's existing range of brands and its overall annual brewing capacity in Cork from 2,000HL (4,000 kegs) up to 75,000HL (150,000 kegs) per annum. While the existing brewery will remain, the additional capacity will be on a new site in Cork, which is expected to be operational later this year.