Belfast Telegraph

Innovation pays off for new craft ale

By David Jebb

A new additive-free ale has been launched by a micro-brewery in Co Down.

Weaver’s Gold was made by Clanconnel Brewing Company in Waringstown, which received support from Invest Northern Ireland's innovation voucher scheme.

The programme gives up to £4,000 to small enterprises to join forces with universities and other publicly funded research organisations in Northern Ireland and the Republic on activities to improve business.

Mark Pearson, the founder of Clanconnel Brewing Company, was given advice in developing traditional brewing techniques from the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) at Loughry campus near Cookstown, Co Tyrone. Mr Pearson said: “Staff helped me to develop the recipe, identify critical processing factors and evaluate the quality of the beer.”

Weaver's Gold, a name which Mr Pearson said was inspired by Waringstown's linen heritage, is on sale in Northern Ireland and has received favourable reviews from ale critics in the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain and the US.

Olive Hill, Invest NI’s director of technology and process development, said: “Our support for Clanconnel Brewery is a good example of how innovation vouchers can be used by smaller companies to turn ideas into new products.”

She added: “Innovation vouchers can be structured to the specific requirements of companies and have been used successfully to increase profitability, start the commercialisation of new ideas and implement efficiency savings.”

Mr Pearson said: “The innovation voucher was invaluable. I have now secured a second innovation voucher to help me lengthen the shelf-life of the wider product range to enable me to ship the beer to export markets, especially the US eastern seaboard.” Mr Pearson, who homebrewed for many years, said he was inspired to produce a craft beer after seeing the popularity of craft beers at Copehagen’s Tivoli Gardens.

Belfast Telegraph