Northbound Brewery, based in Eglinton, Co. L’Derry started in 2012 when Martina and David Rogers returned after 9 years living in Australia. Living the Aussie dream in Bondi, David worked for a local brewery and went on to get (very) qualified in the field, one of only 12 people in 2012 globally who qualified as an Institute of Brewing and Distilling Master Brewer… David knows his stuff!
When Martina and David relocated back to the shores of Enagh Lough just outside of Northern Ireland’s Second City, they were lucky enough to have Invest NI support them on a small pilot brewery, eventually upscaling to their own purpose build micro brewery in Campsie, which launched their beers to you, I and the rest of the general public in April 2015.
Success has followed, just 4 months later and their beers are available across the island or Ireland with 2 distributors in the Republic of Ireland.
You can try their brews at:
I asked David and Martina some questions to get a full understanding of their story, their passion, their brewery and their beers.
Who is involved?
The two of us at the beginning and the team has grown to include two more part time members of staff to help with increasing local demand and the requests for export.
What made you start your own brewing business?
Destiny and for the love of beer. We’re passionate about crafting natural beers that are unpasteurised and unfiltered and most importantly, full of flavour.
We also had a desire to strike a better work/life balance. We can look after the children whilst growing the business.
Why go into brewing?
It’s a great industry, which we learned whilst in Australia – a creative, sociable, fun, down to earth sector. It’s also an opportunity for David to use his brewing expertise and for Martina to apply her commercial/business experience.
What does “Craft” actually mean to you?
For us, it’s made by hand, locally, where the owner is the brewer. A lot of care and love goes into our beers and this, to us, epitomises “craft.”
What are you trying to achieve with Northbound?
A brewery that can sustain itself and our family, also a business that is proud of where it’s from
So, tell me about the current beers:
“08” – Kolsch Style Beer
– A German style ale, in terms of taste “08” is smooth, mild and slightly sweet as you wuill taste the malt more than the hops. There is a slight bitterness at the back of the throat
“26” – Pale Ale
– An aromatic, fruity, Pale Ale, these notes are attributed to the New Zealand Nelson Sauvin Hops and the Californian Cascade Hops
Are you enjoying things so far?
Yes… Bedlam though! Within the space of 8 weeks starting in June 2014, we bought our first house and moved in, 3 weeks later and our 3rd child was born (3 kids under 3.5 years old) and 4 weeks later a brewery arrived on 3 articulated lorries.
What’s the Northbound Brewery ethos?
Our company strapline is “contains only water, malt, hops, yeast and knowledge”
What’s your personal favourite beer style?
Other than your own, of course, what do you think is a must-try beer from Northern Ireland/Ulster?
Boundary Brewery’s American Pale Ale
What do you consider to be the best part of being a brewer in Northern Ireland/Ulster?
How supportive the local market/community has been
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge you face as a brewer in Northern Ireland/Ulster?
Exporting our products
Are there any styles you might like to brew in the future?
More German style beers, Stout and an IPA
What’s your brewing capacity?
We have a 25 hectolitre brewery
What’s with the beer names? 8 & 26? What happened with all the other numbers?
The other numbers are coming. Our Kolsch is named number 8 as this is its measurement of colouring as defined by the European Brewing Convention. #26 is the measurement of bitterness/IBU.
Some quickfire questions:
Hop or Malt?
IBU or ABV?
Cask or Keg?
Collabrews – Good or Bad?
Whiskey or Scotch?
Scotch (It has to be as David is Glaswegian!)
Coffee or Tea?
Favourite place to visit in Nothern Ireland?
Lough Melvin, Garrison, Co. Fermanagh
Favourite Bar in Northern Ireland?
Gilroys Bar, Garrison, Co. Fermanagh
You’re holding an exclusive tasting session in your brewery, showing off your beers to any 4 people of your choosing, alive or dead, who would you want to sit and sup a Northbound Brewery #26 with?
Keith Lemon, Kevin Bridges, James Nesbitt and Julian Simmons!!
What useful knowledge do you know now that you wish you knew at the beginning?
To multiply everything by 2, as costs are always double what you think and it takes twice as long to get things done than you envisaged. Also, keep backing yourself, stay true to yourself, take time out and rest!!
Northbound Brewery Design
The current Northbound branding is strong and sits prominently on shelves and in fridges, but some of the earlier designs deserve attention also.
Paperjam referenced the journey that David and Martina made in moving their lives from Australia back to Northern Ireland to begin their adventure in brewing together, using some fantastic artwork and really quite bold choices in font.
The second iteration referred to the migration they took together and showed this through migratory birds, beautiful packaging however a bit more pastel and less striking than the eventual branding.
The eventual Northbound branding was inspired by numbers, significant to the couple, whether they were dates, coordinates or numbers relating to each beer. Personally, I love this branding, the slight fading of the font on the colours makes me think of some old pirate/nautical map, with the numbers being bearings to follow. The brewery logo isn’t too prominent, but I suppose you’re selling a beer, not a brewery. I can’t think of any similar styles in design for beers so in a bar fridge this should stand out next to your average, run-of-the-mill designs, definitely a good choice.
David and Martina really seem to know what they’re doing. I’ve had their Pale Ale, normally 30IBUs is where I stop enjoying myself, as the beer name suggests, 26IBUs is close to my limit as a malt-lover and not a hop-lover, but one of the few hops I especially like, no…love, is Nelson Sauvin, from New Zealand, which they have balanced perfectly in the #26 beer. Beautiful.
I look forward to getting out to Eglinton and seeing their set up for myself and meeting the team in person, until then I wish them well and encourage everyone to seek out their brews and try them for yourself!