And so it begins...
Lacada Brewery has its origins in a love of beer and brewing, a love of place, and a love of people.
It began with a father and son in Portrush who built their own nano-brewery, in order to discover just exactly how their favourite beers were made and they soon began to invent their own distinct recipes. The initial phase of playing with the huge range of flavours from American and New Zealand hops, soon changed to marrying these New World varieties with the established British, German and Czech hop varieties. Attention was then turned to ‘a pint of Plain’s yer only man’ and the brewers came up with a Porter that was very exciting in its subtle flavours and drinkability.
The inevitable question arose of how to do this commercially. A steering group formed and they soon agreed that they needed a diverse skill base in order to make the venture successful and sustainable. Discussion quickly turned towards investigating the establishment of the brewery as a Co-Operative.
A Co-Operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
This led founding member Laurie to attending the launch of the Co-Operative Business Hub, where successful examples of Co-Operative breweries were presented, such as Heston Newmarket, Topsham Ales and Manchester Brewing Co-Operative. Back in Portrush this translated to setting up a steering group. We were quickly awarded a four day advice package from the Co-Op, delivered by Co-Op Alternatives in Belfast, and there ensued many a meeting as the group learnt about the structure and governance involved in being a co-operative business.
At the same time, visits were made to microbreweries in Ireland, north and south, and in England, as well as to the 1st Irish Craft Beer Convention in Dublin where we pooled ideas and learnt best practice from microbreweries across Ireland and the USA. On May 1st 2014 we were registered as an Industrial and Provident Society with Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment NI. Our IP number is 000412. You can find us on the Department’s registry on their website - www.detini.gov.uk
Interest in the brewery expanded amongst the north coast communities as soon as others heard about the venture. Ideas and proposals became a constant feature, and discussion and consensual decision-making became the core of the brewery as much as the beer recipes, that were being revised and improved.
As word spread, the group became larger and other founding members joined bringing with them industry insight from CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), and decades of experience in local business, marketing, food industry and collaborative working. Local graphic designer Greg Wallace worked with the group in developing the Lacada name and brand. "Lacada" is derived from Liach Fada. It means 'the longstone' and refers to a low, mean, rocky outcrop about 300 yards east of the world famous Giant's Causeway. In 1588 one of the remnants of the Spanish Armada, a galleas named Girona, was desperately trying to return home but a relentless storm forced her onto the north coast of Ireland. She was wrecked on Lacada point with only nine survivors. In the late 1960's a diving team located the wreck off Lacada point and the salvage work brought up many artefacts, the most valuable being a gold salamander that was, originally, encrusted in rubies. The strong story, particular to our rugged coastline, had history and it had treasure! It gave you something to read on the bottle – ever notice beer drinkers absorbed in reading the label?
A keen sense of place is an integral piece of our jigsaw. We love living here on the edge of the North Atlantic with the beauty and wildness of our planet being such a large part of our daily lives. We can have sun, wind, rain or hail on the same day; we can experience the sea as flat as a mill pond or as a heaving force pounding the shore. Mirroring the tides, we have people filling our towns, bars, restaurants, shops and beaches for busy summer months and ebbing and flowing at other times of the year.
We believe that we need a locally brewed beer for this area, to augment and strengthen the visitor experience and to show off and bring out the best in our communities here. We have people joining from different ages, genders and beliefs - a wide and diverse community that comes together for great beer and socialising. That is where our Lacada Brewery Co-Operative is coming from and that is where we are going to and what we, with you involved, are going to do – Come Together!