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Farmer steaks future on cows fed with beer

Think of fine Japanese dining and you might not immediately think of Ahoghill.

But that's about to change after a farmer from the Co Antrim town teamed up with home brew firm Get 'er Brewed to produce a version of Wagyu beef, a delicacy which commands a handsome price in restaurants around the world.

Traditionally it's produced by feeding beer to the Japanese breed of cattle Wagyu and can also involve massaging the animals, a process which helps improve the tenderness and taste of the beef by encouraging intra-muscular fat.

Deborah Mitchell, who runs Get 'er Brewed, and farmers Nigel and Alistair Logan of Hillstown Farm Shop are attempting to break into the Wagyu beef market, which commands £120 a kilogram, with a version of their own.

They have carried out a pilot run of the beef by feeding the home brew company's stout to rare breed Short Horn cattle on Mr Logan's farm.

"The home brew stout is mixed with specially selected liquid malt extract which produces a stout which is silky smooth and malted with aromas of coffee, chocolate and liquorice.

"The impact this has on the flavour of the meat is outstanding," Mrs Mitchell said.

The Wagyu-style beef went on sale in Hillstown Farm Shop for £38 a kilo last Friday and demand is said to have been brisk, according to Mr Logan.

"This has been a really exciting project to work on with Deborah and the team at Get 'er Brewed.

"It started with me wanting to make some handcrafted beer myself, and it has progressed into the cattle getting fed some of the finest homebrew stout available," he said.

"This isn't about getting the cattle drunk; it helps to relax the beast.

"The cattle are grass-fed on the farm and receive the very best of care, which produces succulent, marbled beef renowned for its superior eating qualities, considered to be a delicacy with a unique texture and depth of flavour.

"The beef is dry-aged and has been hung for 28 days and goes on sale in the farm shop this week.

"I am in the process of building a cafe/bistro at the farm shop and believe that folk will travel to taste this really special meat which will feature in the new menu.

"No-one else that I know of has tried this. It is unique to Northern Ireland."

* The Wagyu-style beef can be bought at Hillstown Farm's stall at St George's Market in Belfast every Saturday and Sunday.


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Belfast Telegraph