AFTER seven years of gradual development, a significant investment of time and money and some scientific know-how, one local man is running a successful brewery, and he’s doing so in Fermanagh!
George Cathcart runs the Sheelin Brewery, based at Belnaleck.
He decided to put his education as a Pharmacist and a doctor of drug discovery and medicinal chemistry to good use and, thus the business was born.
“I was growing yeast microbes in a lab professionally and as I was trained in all these different techniques, I began brewing at home.
“I bought my first micro brewery in 2007. I don’t think there was anything in Fermanagh at that stage and then I was brewing in Belfast and bringing beer back here. Over that period I was trying things out, testing it with people and then eventually I had a recipe that worked and that everyone loved.”
It has been a gradual process for George, but after studying at Queen’s University, Belfast and then working in London, George decided with his wife, Victoria and young daughter Lottie to move home and give the business a real go.
He started with very small batches, and explained that a batch – it consists of anything between 150 and 1000 litres – takes a day to brew and a month before it is ready to be sold.
About last year that he sold my first bottle, and, in recent months, he has been bringing handfuls of cases to local innovative restaurants and bars.
Now, he has managed to gain quite a following not only locally, but in Belfast, with further interest from Dublin, London and Edinburgh.
The brewery also featured in a September issue of on-flight ‘Easyjet’ magazine.
“I think I will probably have to get more outlets. It’s brilliant, I’m really glad it is now turning into a proper business as opposed to being a hobby.”
At present George has four different offerings, a blonde ale, a stout, an Indian Pale Ale (IPA) and an Irish red ale.
It is the blonde ale though which has generated the most interest thus far.
“It is the one everyone seems to ask for. It is not as typical as the usual ales that people expect. It is light and smooth and easy to drink, and it ties in well with the taste here. I think people like the mild beer.”
At present he is focusing his attention on upgrading his facilities.
“I’m passionate to create a local product and although there are a lot of people ringing me from Belfast, Dublin , London and places, I think I’m going to try to keep the bulk of the stuff here.”
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