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Historic farm writing new chapter with microbrewery

A new microbrewery and on–site taproom is being developed on the family farm in county Derry once the home of Nobel prize winning poet Seamus Heaney.

Based at Bellaghy, the Heaney Farmhouse Brewery has gained planning permission for the new farm diversification development by husband and wife team Mal, the master brewer, and Suzanne McCay, the niece of the internationally renowned poet and playwright who grew up on the farm.

They created the craft brewery to help ensure the future of the historic beef farm and are using fresh spring water from an aquifer beneath the farm throughout the brewing process. It remains a working farm.

The project is being assisted by Boundary Brewing, a craft brewing co–operative in Belfast. A collaborative agreement allowed Mr McCay to split his time from brewing the ever growing Boundary back catalogue and work on the Heaney beers, brand and brewery plans.

Heaney initially launched four beers on the market in 2016 using facilities at Boundary Brewing –  Blonde Session Ale, Irish Red Ale, Dry Irish Stout and IPA, which have been well–received by craft beer enthusiasts as well as local bars and restaurants such as Michelin starred OX in Belfast.

In addition to the core beers, a number of small batch specials have been brewed including an American Pale Ale and a Gingerbread Imperial Milk Stout.

They also picked up an early award from the respected American online beer site, RateBeer.com. The brewery is scheduled to be operating fully later this year.

Mr McCay, commenting on the new development, says: “When the brewery is complete I hope people see how much hard work and thought went into it.

We aim to create something that should help us achieve our ambitions to make premium quality, interesting and exciting beers and then to bring the farm right into the brewery from the use of ingredients grown on our land.”

“What we aim to do is build a new brewery in an inspirational place that will be a new chapter for the Heaney farm. We’re very respectful of the legacy of the place and we want to protect that for future generations and also it is in a really beautiful place that we want to share with visitors.

Encouraged by the positive feedback on the initial range of beers, Mr McCay secured “significant finance” from family members to develop the microbrewery.

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