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All the best: Niall McMullan on his favourite things

By Kerry McKittrick

Published 28/12/2015

Beer boss: Hercules Brewing company chief Niall McMullan
Beer boss: Hercules Brewing company chief Niall McMullan

The 47-year-old is managing director of the Hercules Brewing company and Phoenix Premium Drinks. He lives in Belfast with his wife Caroline and they have one daughter Tara (17).

My best moment

I would definitely say that the birth of my daughter Tara has to be one, but launching the Hercules brewing company at the beginning of 2014 was another. We’re the first craft brewing company in Belfast for 150 years. Then there were 13 breweries along with what was then Hercules Street but is now Royal Avenue. We like to think we’ve brought that tradition back to Belfast and it’s why we called our lager Yardsman as it paid homage to everyone who worked in the mills, factories and docks.

We brewed our first beer in February 2014 and now the brand is in many of the locally owned restaurants and bars such as the John Hewitt, Ox, James Street South and the Hudson bar.

My best song

It’s Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd. It’s a bit of a random song but I’m into guitars and there’s a very nice instrumental bit in the middle of it that I like to sit back and listen to.

My best way to relax

I like to play guitar so I kick back and play very badly. I’ve passed the addiction on to Tara and the two of us will jam together. I was in a band when I was a student but it was more for fun than anything else.

My best advice

If you’re setting up your own business then you will need dogged determination and perseverance because it can be two steps forward and one step back. In year one it can be you paying for the business, in year two the business hopefully pays for itself and by the time you get to year three the hope is that the business will be paying you. A guy called Patrick Hayes who runs a media business gave me that advice and it’s a mantra that I’ve had in my head since I set up Phoenix Premium Drinks.

My best job

Probably setting up Phoenix Premium Drinks in 2011. I’ve spent my career working for blue chip drinks companies from Coca-Cola to Diageo but I always wanted my own business. Phoenix Premium Drinks supplies craft beers around Northern Ireland and now it’s me making the decisions as well as standing by them so there’s only me to blame if something goes wrong.

My best achievement

Winning the gold medal at the International Quality Awards for our Yardsman Lager. When the Belgians give you a gold medal for beer it means it's not bad. I didn’t think for a moment we would win it and I was completely gobsmacked to receive an email asking me to come to Lisbon to pick up the award.

My best book

Beer School by Steve Hindi and Tom Potter. It’s the story of how they founded the Brooklyn Brewery in New York. I was given the book by the then Lord Mayor of Belfast Mairtin O Muilleoir when he came down to officially open the brewery. The next week I actually visited the Brooklyn Brewery and I got the two authors to sign the book for me. I’m dyslexic so I’m not a big reader but I’ll persevere if I have an interest in the subject. This book isn’t too long so I’ve been able to dip in and out of it.

My best buy

A Belstaff jacket that I bought myself a few years go. It’s a biker jacket style and it cost quite a bit of money but it’s worn well given that I wear it constantly.

My best gift

A bottle of Lanson 1979 vintage Champagne that my sister gave me a couple of Christmases ago. She’s big into wine. We drank it together and it was absolutely stunning.

My best film

It’s A Wonderful Life. I know it’s popular around this time of year but it’s been a favourite of mine since I first saw it. I’m not very into films but it just got me.

Belfast Telegraph

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