A quiet street, with rows of terrace houses seems a strange place to find a craft brewery. But walk down a little back alley and you’ll find a big rusty roller door, to the side of that a small newer looking wooden door and in small letters you’ll see one word, Lacada.
On the day I arrived at Lacada I could hear the clinking of bottles that confirmed I’d came to the right place. I knocked the door but knowing I’d never be heard over the noise from the production line within, I pushed it open and walked in.
I was greeted with the sight of a surprisingly large space (surprising as remember this is down a small alley off a residential street) and 4 guys filling and capping bottles. I announced myself and asked for Laurie, the head brewer who I’d arranged to meet with, I was directed to a man in a boilersuit and woollen hat up a ladder hard at work. He apologised, but with no need, I was earlier than arranged, so while he finished up I nosed about the brewery and chatted to the guys doing the bottling.
As a Co-op they’ve not only pooled their financial resources but their years of experience in diverse fields. From within their ranks they’ve not only been able to draw on the knowledge of several very good home brewers but also experienced business people and skilled IT and PR people. This has meant they’ve been able to create a distinctive brand and logo as well as a very professional website, all without having to outsource, which is expenditure you don’t need when starting any business.
He explained how like many craft brewers he started as a keen homebrewer, his beer must’ve be pretty good as he was often asked why he wasn’t selling it. So after looking into it he dismissed the plan as unworkable until he considered a Co-op structure, with advice and help from the co-operative business hub a organisation from England who help co-ops get going, they formed a steering group and began to seek out investors. The raised the startup capital by selling community shares in the brewery, with a target of 100k shares which they quickly reached.
With the finances in place they then had to come up with a name, not easy with so many owners to please. Lacada was eventually chosen, named after Lacada point, a little known geographical feature on the nearby north coast. Their location on the north coast is something very important to the brewery and they’d like one day to be synonymous with the area in the way that Barry’s amusements, Bushmills Distillery and the Giants Causeway are. Their first brew actually being named Giants Organ after a part of the world famous Giants Causeway.
Next for the burgeoning new brewery was finding places to stock their beer. Lucky for them the north coast is a popular tourist destination and they had a wealth of great pubs and restaurants right on their doorstep. They used their position as a local brewery, not only Northern Irish but actually from the north coast itself, along with it being a co-op owned by people from within the community as its unique selling point.
Laurie is keen to stress that while he may be headbrewer and run the day to day aspects of brewing, the development of their beers and the creation of new recipes is very much a collaborative process among several keen home brewers in the group and himself. This pot of experience and range of tastes means they have produced a strong core range and some great limited edition beers and with more in the pipeline that I’ll not give away too much about. One brew that I’m particularly looking forward to though is a version of their fantastic Utopian Stout but finished in whiskey barrels, it should be great if you manage to get your hands on a bottle.
As for plans for the future, room to expand brewing facilities if/when required in the future was a key aspect when choosing a premises for the brewery. A lot of breweries start out in small premises and then find they have to relocate in the first couple of years. Sustainability is one of the big advantages with the co-op model, so as and when a co-owner retires or leaves the business those remaining are able to replace them and keep moving forward. This is why Laurie is confident that there is no reason why 50 years from now, Lacada won’t still be a community owned Brewery in Portrush. And with drive like that and with the people they have involved, I see no reason to doubt him.
I went home that night and opened a bottle of Lacada’s Devils Washtub IPA (full review available on my blog) and went over my notes and pictures from the day. With the quality of their beer and the enthusiasm of the group I can only see Lacada go from strength to strength….
….maybe I should buy a few shares 🤔….
If you’d like to know more about Lacada and their range, visit http://www.lacadabrewery.com/