Dundalk Bay Brewery
Stainless steel showhouse turned passion project
Saturday 12 March 2022
This article is from
Share this article
Dundalk Bay Brewery and Distillery is a living, breathing manifestation of every brewer’s pipe dream; it delivers on every invasive and whimsical fantasy that might possibly come to mind when you apply notions of “dreaming big” to the brewing industry. It wants for nothing – and I mean, nothing – when it comes to facilities, resources and expertise.
Established in 2016, the most intriguing twist in the tale of Dundalk Bay is that the brewery itself was originally built to showcase the work of its sister company, Spectac, an engineering and fabrication business that builds and supplies brewing equipment to breweries around Ireland, England and some parts of Europe. Spectac was established in 1986 by Dundalk Bay’s founder Tony Healey, who, after years working for Harp (owned by Diageo, and now brewed at Guinness’s St James’ Gate), decided to fly solo, and practice brewing while he built up an engineering company specialising in the equipment he’d worked alongside for the duration of his career to date.
Faye Healey, Tony’s daughter and Dundalk Bay’s managing director, acknowledges that coming from a background of both brewing and fabrication, the Healeys were in a unique position. “We thought, okay, well, we do it for other people, why don’t we build a brewery of our own to showcase how a living, breathing brewery operates?” That’s how it all began, but the facility itself contract-brewed for a number of years until it “grew legs, grew arms, started to crawl and became something we had to nurture,” as Faye puts it.
This is a rather suitable analogy for Dundalk Bay’s story; I think about Tony as a child psychologist who, after years spent studying and tending to the needs of other people’s children, decides to have his own. Little does the bouncing brewery know that it has every possible resource it might need at its fingertips, and an unparalleled expert to guide its growing up.
Dundalk Bay has “tanks arranged from 50 to 150 to 200 hectolitres, and we’ve three more 150 hectolitre tanks going outside – they’re coming online soon,” head brewer Dave Guilfoyle tells us as he guides us on our tour through the labyrinthine brewery floor. “We’ve also got a whiskey distillery there that will be up and running from June”, he says, but for now it makes five-times distilled organic gin and vodka. The copper pot still, along with all the tanks we see, are fabricated on the other side of the wall Dundalk Bay shares with Spectac.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, the brewery is equipped with a fully functioning lab that’s home to a casual €110K’s worth of equipment, all operated and overseen by in-house chemist Tanya Pavlova. “Nothing gets past her,” Dave assures us with a trembling reverence that makes me think she’s used her executive powers to cease all action on the factory floor more than once. “Tanya keeps us right at all times, protects us, makes sure we’re only producing beer and spirits of the highest quality at any time” confirms Liam Lynch, the brewery’s general manager and, having met Tanya, I have no doubt whatsoever that this is the case.
“I suppose the vision behind it all was to bring brewing back to Dundalk, a place that was the hub of brewing back in the 17/1800s. It’s a historical thing really,” Faye comments at one point towards the end of our conversation – a point which struck me as somewhat poignant, given Harp’s evacuation from Dundalk in 2013, and somewhat hopeful given the stainless steel foundations that Dundalk Bay Brewing has been laying for future generations of brewers, ever since its inception.
Share this article