GUINNESS IS ramping up production of the black stuff as pubs and bars across Ireland and the UK prepare to reopen in a matter of days.
Pubs serving food will reopen in Ireland from June 29 while in England, pubs and bars are set to reopen with a one-metre-plus social distancing rule in place for patrons.
It’s a scenario that has seen Guinness leap back into action after a period of relative inaction at Dublin’s St James’s Gate brewery, where production dropped to the minimum level required to keep yeast stocks alive during lockdown.
Aidan Crowe, the director of operations at the brewery, said Guinness also sought to support on-trade customers by retrieving untouched kegs from closed hospitality outlets.
“It’s been a tough time in the brewery but it’s been a much tougher time if you’re trying to run on-trade outlets in this part of the world," he told the Press Association [via Metro].
“That’s why it was very, very important right from the start of the lockdown to support the on-trade as much as we could. That’s why we took the decision to bring back all of the beer from the on-trade.”
He added: “Basically what we do is we take all the keg beer back and we decant it and we disperse the product through a number of environmentally sustainable routes.”
The St James’s Gate brewery produces an estimated 7.2 million hectolitres (720 million litres) a year of Guinness, which equates to around 39 pints of the black stuff a second.
Normally, the brewery would produce 2.5 million pints of Guinness every day along with another 1.5 million pints of other beer and stout.
However, the coronavirus pandemic saw production dramatically scaled back in a way not seen in over a century of production at the brewery.
"‘Probably going back to 1916 [and Dublin’s Easter Rising], actually, is the last time we had such a dramatic short-term change,” Crowe said.
“Now, thankfully, we’re on the other side of that, we’re ramping up very, very strongly through the months of June and July.”
And despite the dramatic drop-off in sales of pints in pubs, canned and bottled Guinness has continued to sell well among drinkers desperate for a taste of the iconic Irish stout in lockdown.
According to Crowe, Guinness’s canning and bottle operations in Belfast and Runcorn actually had to step up production to meet the increased demand.
Now Guinness is preparing for the uncertain months ahead, which Crowe believes really could go either way.
“‘If it’s slower than we expect, we’ve got to be ready for that. If it’s significantly busier than we expect, we’ve got to be ready for that too. And we are ready, we will be ready,” he said.