Spanish Brewer Invests in Ireland

Seamus O'Hara, founder of Carlow Brewing Company
Seamus O’Hara, founder of Carlow Brewing Company

Hijos de Rivera acquires 32% of Carlow Brewing.

Last week Spanish brewery Hijos de Rivera, best known for Estrella Galicia lager, acquired 32% of Ireland’s largest microbrewery Carlow Brewing Company. Since 1996 Carlow has been making a name for itself with the O’Hara’s range of beers, sold in Ireland and abroad. It has grown rapidly in recent years from its humble beginnings in Carlow railway station and now produces over 20,000 hL of beer per year. In 2016 it acquired Irish craft cider-maker Craigie’s Cider, consolidating production at its brewery in Bagenalstown Co. Carlow.

Hijos de Rivera, based in A Coruña, is one of Spain’s largest brewers, currently producing 6% of the nation’s beer. The company already has interests in Brazil, China and Japan, and the new relationship will allow Carlow Brewing to take full advantage of its distribution networks.

This is not the first time a large international beer company has taken an interest in Irish microbrewing. In 2013 Cork’s Franciscan Well was wholly acquired by Molson Coors. Global giants Heineken and Diageo control the country’s two largest breweries, with local multinational C&C being the third largest player.

A spokesperson for Ireland’s beer consumers’ organisation, Beoir, said that while it is encouraging to see investment in Ireland’s independent beer scene, the spectre of mass consolidation and its potential for limiting consumer choice is an issue it will continue to be on guard for.

A statement from Carlow Brewing on the acquisition can be found on the company’s website.