Established in 1996 by cousins Liam LaHart and Oliver Hughes, The Porterhouse was actually both the second bar and second brewery for the pair, even though it was Dublin’s first modern brewpub. Their second was not to be their last, however. The cousins now boast a small brewing empire, with a brewery in Blanchardstown, just outside Dublin to the northwest, plus four tied houses and a hotel scattered around Dublin and Bray, and a fifth highly successful pub in London’s Covent Garden.
The Porterhouse franchise got its start in 1989 in the town of Bray, just south of the capital, when LaHart and Hughes purchased a reportedly rundown building on the seafront and fixed it up as a pub carrying a wide array of international beers. This was not the cousins’ first foray into beer, though. That had come seven years earlier with the experimental and short-lived Harty’s Brewery, established in Blessington, County Wicklow, in 1982.
Following the success of the first Porterhouse, Hughes and LaHart opened up on Temple Bar and spun an almost immediate success out of good beer, both house-brewed and imported, live music, and what has been termed guerrilla marketing. (One early and provocatively named Porterhouse brew was Weiser Buddy.) Over the years that followed, further expansion led the pair to London’s Covent Garden, after which they realized they would have to build a new, central brewery in order to meet demand at all of their premises.
Today, Hughes and LaHart oversee a business employing 250 people in two countries, with annual revenues of more than €21 million. And they’re not done yet; they’re looking at expansion into both the European and American markets.
The Porterhouse North, Cross Guns Bridge, Glasnevin, Dublin 9, tel: 353-830-9884
The Porterhouse Temple Bar, 16-18 Parliament Street, Dublin 2, tel: 353-671-5715
The Porterhouse Bray Inn and Pub, Strand Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow, tel: 353-286-0668
The Porterhouse Central, Adam Court, Grafton Street, Dublin 2, tel: 353-679-9204
The Porterhouse Covent Garden, 21-22 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London, tel: 44-207-379-7917