Local entrepreneurs Shane McCarthy and Liam Brogan’s beer makes use of blockchain technology, which enables the consumer to find out the provenance of the beer – ingredients, supply chain, methods of production – by scanning a bar-code like graphic on the label with a smartphone.
With the traceability of food and drink a growing concern due to more frequent food fraud, blockchain is seen as a way of unravelling complex supply chains.
McCarthy, a finance graduate from Queen’s University Belfast, said the idea first came when the beer, whiskey and gin-exporting company he founded, Ireland Craft Beers, collaborated with digital-solutions firm Arc-net.
Through Arc-net, McCarthy and Brogan met Professor Chris Elliott, founder of the Institute for Global Food Integrity (IGFS) at Queen’s, who was working on the development of traceability solutions for the food and farming industries.
Arc-net, IGFS and Ireland Craft Beers collaborated on the idea for a blockchain beer that would be grown, brewed and sold in Northern Ireland from ‘grain to glass’.
McCarthy commented: “Liam and I were looking at solutions for traceability on beer for craft-beer consumers.
“With a background in fintech, I had some familiarity with the power of blockchain on tracing data.
“We saw some of the great work that people like Professor Elliott and Arc-net were doing with applying technology to meat, and animal feed, and we came together with an idea to make a world’s first blockchain beer.”
Professor Elliott added: “Once again, IGFS is leading the way by exploring the potential of blockchain to enhance the security and safety of our food systems.
“The fact that this beer has been developed by two Queen’s University graduates just makes it all the sweeter.”
Downstream has been listed for supply to Marks & Spencer this coming autumn.