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Testing the boundary

March 6th, 2015 | by LCN Editor
Testing the boundary
Features
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There will soon be as many as 20 independent breweries operating in Northern Ireland – a far cry from the situation a decade or two ago. LCN has been talking to the latest arrival, Matthew Dick of Belfast’s Boundary Brewing…

Belfast brewer Matthew Dick has re-focused attention on the independent sector with news that his co-operative craft brewery is all but ready to begin production.

Matthew and pal, Matt Scrimgeour, have funded their new venture – Boundary Brewing – with cash they raised by selling stakes in the business over eight days in December. The plan had been to collect £70,000 in finance but in the event, enthusiastic investors contributed £100,000 to the scheme.

As a result, the firm has now established itself in new premises at the Holywood Arches in Belfast and installed the necessary equipment. The extra cash also gives the start-up a welcome financial cushion which should help see it through the first uncertain months of production.

“My ambition to begin brewing and Matt’s enthusiasm for co-operatives have come together in this new project,” Matthew told LCN recently. “One of the ways that this is going to differ from other breweries is in its business model. We are owned by the people who invested in us and they are involved in all the business decisions. They all have an equal say, it doesn’t matter if they invested £5000 or £100, and, of course, we also have 450 people who are going to be buying our beer.”

Matthew had been living in the US for six years – during which time he met his wife, Sheena – but when he came back in 2010, he says he couldn’t believe how limited the range of beers available in Northern Ireland was. Initially, Matthew was lecturing at Queen’s while studying for a PhD, but he put that on hold in 2013 when he took a post as a brewer with innovative local brewing company, Brewbot.

He left Brewbot in November last year to pursue his plans for Boundary Brewing.

 

Boundary will initially produce three core beers – an American pale ale, an IPA and a stout – but Matthew says that there are plans for additional variety:

“We’ll also be doing seasonal beers, probably on a monthly basis to begin with and then twice a month,” he adds. “We’ll do things like sour beer in wine barrels; 14 to 16 per cent beers, wheat beers, everything really.”

Matthew had been aiming to get into production in time for March this year, but the burden of logistics means that he’s now aiming for May. He hopes to be able to unveil the new beers at the ABV 15 Beer Festival – an exciting new beer festival event which he and a group of colleagues have planned for the Titanic Drawing Rooms in Belfast during that month.

All rights reserved by Michael Kerr

The Titanic Drawing Rooms will be the eye-catching venue for the inaugural ABV 15 Beer Festival.

 

The event has been organised my Matthew, his friend, Michael Kerr; Darren Nugent, who owns Tyrone brewery, Pokertree and Felicia Matheson, the proprietor of Co. Down drinks distributor, Prohibition.

Matthew says that he was inspired to put the Festival together following a number of visits that he made to the Indy Man Beer Con in Manchester:

“The idea was to do the best beer festival that we can,” he adds “There will be 20 local breweries operating in Northern Ireland by the summer and we have invited all of them to come along to ABV 15 as well as other producers from further afield who also produce excellent beer. We want to bring all these people together for a weekend with lots of top class beer in this outstanding location.”

Matthew hopes to attract up to 1200 visitors to the Drawing Rooms on May 22 and 23 – that would make it a sell-out success:

“We really wanted to be able to hold it in a memorable place and the Titanic Drawing Roosm were top of our list, so we were over the moon when we were told that we could do it. Indy Man did some of their sessions in a Victorian baths and it was just awesome. We’re hoping for a similar affect when we stage our event at Titanic.”

This will be the last event at the venue before it closes for the recently-announced large—scale refurbishments.

 

Find out more at www.abvfest.com and www.boundarybrewing.coop

 

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