Inishmacsaint Brewing Company in Derrygonnelly is being assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to develop an innovative wheat beer in an area where ancient Christian monks may have started the brewing tradition.
The Fermanagh microbrewery has used an Invest NI Innovation Voucher to team up with the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise at Loughry in the development of the handcrafted beer, which will be available in bottles and novel 19 litre kegs.
The brewery was launched as a farm diversification project in 2008 by Gordon Fallis on his 30 acre farm. The new wheat beer, unique in Northern Ireland, is being developed on the back of the company’s success in producing and selling lager and ale in small volumes to local restaurants in Fermanagh.
Olive Hill, Invest NI’s Director of Technology and Process Development, said: “The Innovation Voucher has enabled the brewery to tap into the knowledge that Loughry possesses in brewing techniques and packaging.
“The voucher provides funding of £4,000 to small companies wishing to turn new business ideas into products for clear market opportunities pinpointed by innovators.
“Inishmacsaint Brewing Company is a good example of a very small business that is using an Innovation Voucher to diversify its products and to find new markets that will enable the business to achieve faster and profitable growth.
“The scheme is open to all small enterprises with fewer than 50 employees, not just Invest NI clients. Innovation Vouchers encourage these companies to take advantage of the expertise and knowledge available from Northern Ireland’s further and higher education sector in commercialising ideas for new products and services.”
Gordon Fallis, Inishmacsaint Brewing Company Founder, said: “Our objective is to produce a range of unique hand crafted beers with an emphasis on quality and strong links with the local history and character of our Fermanagh base.
“I set up the microbrewery as another revenue stream to supplement earnings from our smallholding. While our existing ales and beers are popular in the local area, I saw the need to develop a unique product potentially with wider appeal. There are presently no examples of wheat beer or beer packaging formats commercially available in Northern Ireland. Wheat beer is a style of beer very popular in countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium.
“The Innovation Voucher has given me the opportunity to access advice and guidance from Loughry in areas such as recipe formulation, process control measures, manufacturing, packaging, dispensing methods and sensory evaluation of the finished products.
“My objective is to develop sales throughout Northern Ireland, into the rest of the UK and then to explore export options in the Republic of Ireland and perhaps further afield.”