Heineken has said that it will sell off the historic Beamish & Crawford brewery site in Ireland after it has been decommissioned.

A Heineken Ireland spokesperson told just-drinks today (31 March) that the Beamish brewery, in Cork, is expected to cease production within six to seven weeks, slightly later than planned.

He said that decommissioning of the site could take between a year and 18 months, but that the whole site is to be sold off after this is complete.

Heineken's decision is likely to anger heritage groups in Ireland, who have campaigned vociferously for Heineken to transform the site into a tourist attraction, akin to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.

Historians believe that the Beamish site has been used for brewing since at least the mid 17th Century. Beamish was founded there in 1792 by William Beamish and William Crawford.

The Heineken spokesperson said today: "We met the [heritage] groups earlier this year, but we have made a business decision for commercial and economic reasons". He declined to put a value on the brewery site.

On the decommissioning process, he added: "We will ensure that this is managed in a safe and environmentally friendly way. We are mindful of the archaeological nature of the site."

Heineken announced last December that, following a business review, it planned to close the Beamish brewery, which it acquired after its part in the takeover of UK brewer Scottish & Newcastle. 

Of the 160 Beamish & Crawford workers, 120 have been made redundant. The remaining 40 are still working at the brewery and will be transferred to Heineken Ireland once production ceases.