FROM RUGBY TO BREWING
Long ago when the world was younger, Kerry-born John O’Hanlon was a keen rugby player in the town of Dublin. After matches, battered and bruised, as rugby players were wont to do, a few pints of stout was the clarion call. Next morning, equally battered and bruised, some would make their way to the bar for a lunchtime libation — it is said, as with all legends and stories, that one canny barman used to mix in a glass of port with the stout; the name it was known as: ‘corpse-reviver’. Years later, this would become the foundation of O’Hanlon’s magnificent Port Stout.
John O’Hanlon moved to London and opened the O’Hanlons pub in a rougher part of Islington and spent his first six months establishing customers.
THE INTRODUCTION OF PORT STOUT
In moving to London, John bought the 3 Crowns, a run down pub in Islington/Clerkenwell, rechristening it O’Hanlons and quickly gaining a reputation as a true Irish pub, with an excellent lunchtime food from the kitchen of Maeve O’Hanlon, Johns mother.
Tiring of people asking for Guinness John started the brewery in the railway arch in Vauxhall. The first beer was Port Stout.
The initial aim was purely to supply the pub, and the first brews were Dry Stout and Firefly as a session bitter. The name was chosen by a customer competition (winning free beer as a reward) and was won by a regular called Philippa Ditcham. The core brands in the earliest days were, Blakeleys Best, Port & Dry Stout and Firefly.
RELOCATING TO DEVON
In 2000 the O’Hanlons Brewery moved to the farm buildings in Devon, deep down in a stretch of countryside, south of Exeter, beyond the M5. An old orchard, its trees arthritic and bent and twisted with age, stands next to the ancient house, which sits on a site once mentioned in the Domesday Book; it’s a cob farmhouse that was derelict when the O’Hanlons moved in during 2000. A group of barns housed the brewery, the nerve centre of beer-making, an ensemble of stainless steel vessels and up-to- the-date computation, but still making beer whose essentials hadn’t changed for generations.
NEW BEGINNINGS AT HALF MOON VILLAGE
Moved to new location in Half Moon Village and the business was bought by Dan Taylor and Jim Bungard with the existing staff all staying. The business was rebranded with a new logo and name ‘Hanlons’ and new pumpclips. The core range was reduced to 4 cask beers, Yellow Hammer, Stormstay, Port Stout and Firefly with seasonal additions.
THE NEW ONSITE SPACE
Hanlons Bar opened providing a onsite space to try the best Hanlons has to offer. We also added a Tap Room/Bar with a viewing platform over the brewery which was proving to be very busy indeed. Only open on Friday evenings but making a fun and friendly atmosphere for tasting our new beers. The business saw substantial growth with a tripling of the original customer base. Stormstay was added to the Hanlons range of bottled beers.
TASTE OF THE WEST & SALSA ACCREDITATION
Hanlons were extremely busy and winning a number of awards still for all of their beers including becoming a finalist in the Camra Champion Beer of Britain Awards in Olympia, London for Port Stout. The plan was to try and get SALSA Accreditation which was a great achievement for a smaller brewery.
More importantly, Yellow Hammer, Stormstay and Port Stout had received Gold medals in the Taste of the West Awards.
Moreover, Hanlons had been presented with another amazing award: Best Producer Award – by Food and Drink Devon.
On top of this we got a SALSA Accreditation – so quite the years for us.
BECOMING MORE THAN A BREWERY
Another very busy year with the purchase of Prescott Ales based just outside of Cheltenham in the April and supplying some amazing pubs from Bristol to the Cotswolds. Prescott Ales are associated with the Prescott Hill Climb and the famous Bugatti Museum – with the labels and pump clips all being vintage cars.
Another bottle was included to the range- Citra IPA and proved to be Hanlons second best selling ale (Yellow Hammer as number one).
The business also gained planning permission for 11 holiday lodges on the site and an extension of the restaurant and shop area. The restaurant also joined forces with La Cantina Street Kitchen and renamed it Beer Factory and Kitchen- now open 3 days a week with a refreshed look and offering award winning burgers and beer in the restaurant and for takeaway.