By SAM BUTLER
Bullhouse Brewing has developed a state-of-the-art brewery in Belfast that will enable it to triple production of its unique range of craft brews.
The brewery, founded by Willy Mayne in March 2016, has also installed a fully automated canning line and is aiming to set up a new craft beer outlet in Belfast.
Another feature of the new brewery is extensive space for a taproom for marketing its brews through using occasional licenses.
The brewery used a crowdfunding campaign for the important development for the small business. Invest Northern Ireland has also offered the company £36,500 of support for the development of the brewery and creation of seven new jobs.
Willy explains: “The new brewery will include another four brewing tanks from China which will allow us to treble our annual capacity (to a maximum of 1,500 hectolitres or about 265,000 pints).
“We’ve needed this expansion for many months because of the growth in demand for our beers in Northern Ireland and in Great Britain.
“In addition, we will open a craft beer bar in Belfast with 12 or more draught lines serving a wide range of our brews and other local beers, as well as natural wine and some local spirits.
“The plan will involve local community development groups as much as possible,” he adds.
Welcoming the expansion, John Hood, Invest NI’s Director of Food and Drink, adds: “Since it established, Bullhouse Brewing has demonstrated an aptitude for developing a unique product range which has proved very popular with beer enthusiasts.
“The company first contacted Invest NI in 2017 and over the last number of years we have built an excellent relationship, offering expert business advice on growing its business, innovating and growing sales internationally.
“Our support for the creation of seven new jobs, coupled with the installation of the new brew house and associated marketing activities, is ensuring the company has a solid platform to expand its business and capitalise on the growing global craft beer industry.
“I wish Willy and his new team every success for the future.”
Willy, who developed a love of home brewing into a fully-fledged brewery, was also influenced by the rapid growth in craft brewing, especially in the US.
He launched the business on a very small scale on a part-time basis, producing 400 litres of beer per batch, bottling and labelling by hand and selling everything out of the back of his car.
Demand soon began to outpace supply, so he enlisted the help of a local distributor and hasn’t looked back since.
In September 2017, he decided to give up the day job and concentrate on the brewery full-time. To celebrate the occasion, he brewed a pale ale and called it P45!
A commitment to perfection in his beers is matched with his enthusiasm for experimentation.
So far, alongside the core range of two pale ales, a session IPA and a New England IPA, the brewery releases at least two new specials every month.
These currently include a rhubarb and custard sour and a rum barrel-aged plum porter in collaboration with Copeland Distillery in Donaghadee, a producer of gin which is also planning an Irish malt whiskey. The linkup is the outcome of a friendship with Copeland founder Gareth Irvine.
Willy’s most successful beer remains one of the original brews – the Small Axe 4.3 per cent session IPA.
“We pride ourselves on our environmentally friendly approach to brewing and packaging, and our involvement in the local community,” Willy continues.
“Our company ethos is to liberalise the beer landscape in Northern Ireland by providing original, no-frills venues for the local community.”
He founded the business in March 2016 using old dairy tanks on the family farm near Newtownards in a former bull pen.
The initial ethos of the brewery was to bring to market styles of beer not available in Northern Ireland