With seven Cork city pubs under their collective belts (and more to come), the McCabe family is set to create 40 to 45 more jobs in a new venture opposite their Bodega bar, in the Cornmarket Centre building, underneath TK Maxx.
Planing permission has just been sought by Cork Heritage Brewery, trading as Seven Windows Brewery, for the venture, to include a micro-brewery, bar and food space in a development set to become a tourist/visitor attraction.
Craft beer brewing is steadily emerging from fad or market niche to a significant player in the drinks trade: currently, 7% of drinkers in Cork drink craft beers, (it’s 5.25% in Dublin, according to Nielsen figures) and there’s scope for this to swell to 30-35% of the market in the next five years, says Benny McCabe.
Cork’s pioneer craft beer brewery, the Franciscan Well, has been brewing in the city since 1998, and earlier this year was taken over by Molson Coors in a multi-million euro acquisition, while Dublin’s Porterhouse extended its reach in Cork earlier this year, opening in the Mardyke complex.
Frothy news of the McCabes entry to the brewery sector — with German brewing technology on order — comes just as German discount retailer Lidl also gets a clear planning green-light from Cork City Hall for a new 25,000 sq ft supermarket in the basement of the Cornmarket Centre, bringing it closer to occupancy. The development, by Rockfell Investments, also includes the 53 Degrees North shop, in an old church building on Paul St, also part of the former Guy & Co printing works. Agents are DTZ Sherry FitzGerald and Irish and European.
Subject to planning permission, it’s hoped to have the new 5,600 sq ft Seven Windows Brewery open by December, and the name comes from the unit’s seven slender windows in the retained old red-brick facade. It’s intended to remove the glazing for a smoking area approximately 20’ deep in front, and the stainless steel and copper brewing equipment will set the look of the new venture, says Mr McCabe, recently returned from a whirlwind tour of micro-breweries.
“People no longer want to drink in a pub what they can buy in a can in an off-licence for a euro. This is a growing discerning market, not a fad,” says Mr McCabe. He says that five years ago he’d have regarded real ale and craft beer advocates as “beer nazis”. ! Now, there are 1,000 micro-breweries in Britain, and the movement is huge in the US.
“The renewed interest in local small breweries is an unexpected, but welcome, result of globalisation as visitors and residents alike are demanding more local and challenging beers,” notes McCabe.
The family venture includes his wife Cliodhna, and their daughter Saoirse, and the group’s Cork Heritage Pubs other bars include the Bodega, Crane Lane, The Mutton Lane, Sín É, the Vicarstown and Arthur Maynes.
Their micro-brewery on the Coal Quay will supply the group’s seven bars, and exports are also planned.
“We’ll resurrect some old brews and recipes from defunct Cork breweries and will create new ones in the American style, however using cutting-edge German brewing technology,” according to Mr McCabe.
“I spent the last three years looking out the Bodega windows, at this building, before I got the epiphany,” admits Benny McCabe.
Epiphany? Now, there’s a name for a beer.