Brewing tanks arrive at new Athlone town centre brewery
The opening of a craft brewery in Athlone moved a step closer last week when brewing tanks and fermentation vessels were delivered to the former Ritz restaurant premises at Custume Place.
Liam Tutty of Dead Centre Brewing is preparing to open what is believed to be the first commercial brewery in the town in close to 200 years.
The company's beers are currently being brewed under contract at the St Mel's brewery in Longford, and Liam is planning a 'soft' opening of the Athlone premises in late January, with the first on-site brewing pencilled in for March.
Early last Wednesday morning, he received delivery of a copper-clad brewhouse and two 1,000-litre fermentation vessels which now sit alongside the windows looking out on the River Shannon.
Liam established Dead Centre Brewing last year, having previously worked for iRadio in Athlone and Rye River Brewing in Kildare.
He hopes the brewery will become a visitor attraction and is planning brewery tours for up to twelve guests at a time during next year's tourist season.
Liam will be the general manager and will oversee brewing operations at the site. Two full-time staff are due to work alongside him, after the company received grant assistance through the Westmeath Local Enterprise Office and Enterprise Ireland. A number of part-time roles are also planned.
However, two significant pieces of construction work must be completed before brewing takes place at the premises, which was home to the Ritz and Olive Grove restaurants in previous years.
Liam said a new "concrete sub-floor" would need to be built "with drainage to take away any waste from the brewery". In addition, a 30-minute-rated glass firewall would also have be constructed around the brewing equipment.
A food offering is being arranged at the brewery, specific details of which are not being disclosed at this stage.
Dead Centre also has a full seven-day bar licence, but Liam stressed that it will operate differently from a pub and generally won't be open as late at night.
"We’re not a pub, we’re a brewery. And I really want to create that point of difference," he said.
"I’m more than happy for somebody to come in here, sample some of our beers, maybe have a bite to eat, and then go to one of our stockists in town. Head from here up to The Malt House to have a drink, because the last thing I want to do is 'cut the nose' off publicans in any way.
"And this probably sounds selfish, but we’re going to have very long days here. Our days will start early in the brewery and I think the last thing you want to do is wind up working from 6 in the morning until 12.30 at night."
Dead Centre's flagship beer is Marooned, an oatmeal IPA, and it has released three seasonal beers to date, the most recent of which was Moondust, a porter with added coffee from Mullingar's Bell Lane Coffee Company.
Liam said fermentation for ales takes approximately ten days and the Athlone brewery would have capacity for up to 2,000 litres to be fermenting at any one time.
"That isn’t a lot of beer, so if everything goes very well we will reach capacity relatively quickly," he said. "Our focus has never been about making as much beer as we can, it’s about making very good beer. So capacity isn’t a huge issue for me."
A 'pilot' brewing kit will also be used at the site to test out various beer recipes in 50-litre batches.