The North Coast’s newly opened micro-brewery, Lacada Co-Operative, was thrilled to receive a visit from First Minister, Arlene Foster.
Mrs Foster was pleasantly surprised to find that the brewery, tucked away in the middle of Portrush, now employs seven part time staff.
Micro-breweries are a growth sector in Northern Ireland and have quadrupled in the last five years to a total of 27 at last count.
Lacada’s Chairperson, Heather Quiery, said, “We’re very proud of our achievements to date and it was great to have this acknowledged by our First Minister.
“I was encouraged by the First Minister’s grasp of the challenges we face in terms of licensing in NI and her recognition of the huge tourism potential of a brewery in the area as well as the export potential of our products abroad.
“Apart from the seven employees, we have the luxury of many talented volunteer hours from a large pool of 270 co-owners who all have contributed to a start-up fund of over £97,000 to get Lacada going.”
The First Minister showed great interest not only in the brewing process but also how Lacada does business and she was given an insight into the processes involved in producing craft beers, most of which are done by hand.
“One of the main reasons we set up a co-operative business was to create a sustainable venture and part of this is in not over-automating production and but instead employing people rather than machines”, explained Laurie Davies, Head Brewer and Manager.
“We hope to bring beer and food lovers to the area and encourage them to stay and sample our artisan products at a time when the traditional holiday makers are not as frequent.”
The brewery holds five meetings a year in Portrush Town Hall and the co-owners are encouraged to help with bottling, labelling, delivery and by offering their various skills and experience either in the brewery or at committee meetings.