Early Brewing of Harp Lager. Part I, Dundalk, Ireland.

All-malt at Dundalk?

Boak & Bailey just did a nice early history of Harp Lager’s introduction and production in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Both in the post and comments, links appear to posts by Ron Pattinson analyzing early recipes or brewing directions for Harp.

Harp was produced in different countries by a consortium. Due to this and differing plant capabilities, one document Ron looked at called for flaked corn as a malt adjunct, another used a sugar addition.

The maize pertained to Barclay Perkins in London, the other, from 1961, was a kind of head office (St. James Gate) directive, and listed a sugar addition. I’m not clear where that version was meant to be brewed.

The Brewing Trade Review in July 1962 has an article starting from p. 592, “Harp Lager Brewery, Dundalk“. An interesting piece, and certainly the grist details caught my eye.



Malt and hops only are referred to, with a basic formula that 2.5 tons of malt produced 4000 gal. beer. Without attempting a nuts and bolts brewing calculation, this struck me as similar in effect to the maize recipe at Barclay Perkins, i.e., of so many quarters of grist producing so many bbl.

Maize yield is somewhat higher than malt, though, and it is not said what the alcohol level was or final gravity at Dundalk.

Still, and bearing in mind the article emphasizes German authenticity, it seems possible the original Dundalk batches were all-malt.* Would a German brewmaster brought in to design a German-type plant want to use adjunct of some kind?



At the end of the article, the equipment installed at Dundalk is listed and the fabricators. No cooker is mentioned for raw grain, no bins for sugar, although this does not mean neither was used. Maybe the sugar was in sacks left on the floor somewhere.

Sugar might have been added to the kettle and simply not mentioned in the article, but this is where the calculations come into it.

The sense I had was all-malt, but I can’t be sure. Thoughts?

[See in Comments analysis and opinion of Ed, a commercial brewer].

Below is a picture of a Harp lager I bought today, at LCBO. Made at St. James Gate. A fresh pour and actually quite nice. Drier than I normally like but offering good natural lager flavour with no discordant notes.



Part II follows, on brewing at Alton.

Note: source of images above is linked in the text. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owner, as applicable. Used for educational and research purposes. All feedback welcomed.

*The article stresses more a “Continental” approach, but I read this as seeking a German character, taking all with all. Dundalk, on the north-east coast near the Ulster border, is where the Harp project actually started. Harp issued from there before anywhere else, in July 1960. Alton was meant as a British showcase.


2 thoughts on “Early Brewing of Harp Lager. Part I, Dundalk, Ireland.”

  1. Here’s what I make it (approximately!):

    2.5 imperial tonnes = 2540kg malt.
    If ‘as is’ extract is 300 litre degrees per kg we have:
    762,000 litre degrees
    4000 imperial gallons is 18,184 litres
    so 762,000 / 18,184 gives us gravity 42°S (1.042)
    However that’s at 100% efficiency.
    At 90% we get 1.038
    Assuming a lager has 80% attenuation then 30.4 degrees are fermented.
    To calculate ABV we use 30.4 x 0.129 giving 3.9% ABV.
    Some of the assumptions my need adjusting but it looks like it was all malt!


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