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5 Great Irish Breweries That Aren't Guinness

1. Murphy's

It's not craft, but it is Guinness' last big in-country counterbalance. Of the Big 3 Irish Stout Producers -- Guinness and Beamish being the others -- Heineken now owns Murphy's and Beamish and produces both at the Murphy's facility Heineken now uses in Cork. Beamish's old facility closed in 2009, leaving Murphy's as the only Guinness competitor operating out of its own brewery.

Granted, that brewery has the Heineken name on it now, but the Murphy's product line is intact. It's also still available in the U.S. -- unlike Beamish, which pulled out five years ago -- and still has its direct lineage to the early days of Murphy's predecessor, the Lady's Well Brewery that originally opened in 1856.

Murphy's hasn't expanded the product line a whole lot in the past 150 years or so. The stout is still a mainstay and exists primarily as a sweet counterpoint to Guinness. Murphy's Red Ale dates back to the early days of Lady's Well Brewery in 1856, when it was brewed as Lady's Well Ale. The modern incarnation has a bit less romance to it after being reintroduced by Heineken in 1983 to appease beer-drinking countries Heineken didn't think would take to stout.

It's been swallowed up by a much larger brewer whose flagship lager is growing more popular in Ireland by the moment, but Murphy's has managed to hang in when Beamish couldn't. We don't know how much longer Ireland's taste for stout can hold out, but Murphy's and Guinness will go down swinging with Heineken and Diageo in their respective corners.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
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