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US firm snaps up European breweries

US-based animal nutrition firm Alltech has announced the purchase of an Irish and a British craft brewery as part of a major expansion to strengthen its presence in Europe.

Dr Pearse Lyons, CEO of Alltech

The Station Works brewery in Newry, County Down, has been sold to the Kentucky-based company by the Haughey family, who own Norbrook Laboratories. The deal also includes the Cumberland Breweries in Great Corby in the north of England.

With the capacity to produce 40,000 hectolitres, the two new breweries will add several new brands to Alltech’s portfolio, including Finn Lager and Foxes Rock Ale.

Alltech is owned by Irishman Dr Pearse Lyons, whose first job was with Harp Lager in his native Dundalk. Lyons described the move as a “kind of homecoming”.

“These new purchases will allow us to develop already established European brands while at the same time introducing our Kentucky Ale range to new markets,” said Lyons, who achieved his doctorate in brewing and distilling before founding Alltech.

Alltech’s primary focus is on animal nutrition, however the company has been diversifying into the drinks trade for some time through its Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co. division. It already produces craft beer at its brewery in Kentucky including Kentucky Ale, Kentucky Kölsch, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout and Kentucky IPA brands. In 2012 the company Town Branch Distillery, which produces Town Branch Bourbon, Pearse Lyons Reserve and Bluegrass Sundown.

Earlier this year it announced plans to open a distillery in an 18th century church in Dublin, where Lyon’s grandfather is buried. The company also has three new breweries under construction in the United States. 

“We want to be one of the top 50 craft brewers in the world,” added Lyons.

Alltech’s European sales manager, Conor Farell, said the purchase was a chance for the company to expand and invest in the European market, calling its the “perfect platform to access the distribution model and contacts already in place for the Cumberland Breweries brand.”

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