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It's way he brews 'em - son of Frank Carson is bringing his beer to Northern Ireland

By John Mulgrew

The brewery-owning son of legendary Belfast comedian Frank Carson is bringing his ale to Northern Ireland. Kilkenny-based Sullivan's Brewing Company, the brainchild of Tony Carson, currently produces a red ale.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "My dad was a publican. He lived his life in pubs.

"We were either telling jokes in pubs or drinking in them.

"My dad was very proud of what I achieved.

"We were both very different people, but we were also the best of friends.

"The older he and I got, we were more friendly."

It is five years since the comedian passed away at the age of 87.

Sullivan's Brewing Company started around 18 months ago. It is rooted in one of Ireland's best-known beer brands, Smithwick's.

Paul Smithwick is chairman of Sullivan's. He is the ninth generation of the family since ancestor John Smithwick founded the famous brewery in the Marble City in 1710.

"It (Sullivan's) pre-dated Smithwick's and was formed in 1702 in Kilkenny," Mr Carson explained.

"It went bust in 1902 when the incumbent director bet the brewery on a horse.

"Smithwick's bought the trade name and for some reason or other, when they sold Smithwick's to Guinness, as it was then, they didn't ask them for the trademark for Sullivan's."

Sullivan's is already testing the water in the US, selling into a handful of bars.

But Mr Carson said that the company wanted to expand across the States.

The beer is currently contract made at the Boyne Brewhouse outside Drogheda, but the firm is constructing its own brewery in the heart of Kilkenny.

Mr Carson worked at Watney's Brewery in London after studying business at university.

He began developing his own pubs by his mid-20s, before venturing into a number of other businesses, including the Meantime Brewing Company in the capital.

Meantime was later sold to industry giant SABMiller.

"It capitalised at £5m and went on to be sold for £121m five years later," Mr Carson said.

"I've been a serial investor in hospitality, and laterally into property and technology."

Sullivan's Brewing Company recently won a top accolade for its first beer at the International Brewing Awards in Burton-on-Trent.

It lifted the Champion Keg Ale trophy for its Maltings Red Ale at a ceremony in London's Guildhall.

Sullivan's head brewer Ian Hamilton said: "I spent time early in my brewing career in Burton-on-Trent, so to have my beer judged there by some of the best brewers in the world and be awarded a trophy is about as good as it gets, especially as it comes only a year after Sullivan's started brewing.

"The beer we craft is inspired by traditional Kilkenny recipes and brewed the way the family has always brewed - the way real Irish beer should be brewed - by a dedicated brewer in small batches, with enormous heart and the finest locally sourced ingredients."

Chair of judging Bill Taylor said: "It's a tremendous achievement to come through that process to win firstly a medal and then one of just 10 Championship trophies, so everyone on the podium should feel very proud.

"We are also proud of the emphasis we place on products' commercial worth. All the medal and trophy winners are beers or ciders that, once tasted, judges would recommend as world class examples of their style."

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