Downstream Beer has been brewed in collaboration with Mourne Mountain Brewery and is the brainchild of two local entrepreneurs, Shane McCarthy and Liam Brogan.
The product uses blockchain technology, enabling shoppers to learn its provenance, including aspects such as its ingredients, supply chain and methods of production, by scanning a barcode-style graphic on labels with smartphones.
Shane McCarthy, a finance graduate from Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), said inspiration for the product came after the beer, whiskey and gin-exporting company he founded, Ireland Craft Beers, linked with Northern Ireland digital-solutions firm arc-net.
Through arc-net, McCarthy and Brogan came into contact with Professor Chris Elliott, founder of the Institute for Global Food Integrity (IGFS) at QUB. Professor Elliott wrote the Elliott review into the integrity and assurance of food supply networks in the aftermath of the horsemeat scandal.
The beer, which is intended to be grown, brewed and sold in Northern Ireland, was devised by Ireland Craft Beers in collaboration with arc-net and IGFS and Ireland Craft Beers.
“Liam and I were looking at solutions for traceability on beer for craft-beer consumers,” said McCarthy. “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 said: “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 QUB graduates just makes it all the sweeter.”
Downstream is currently only available online and will also be stocked by Marks & Spencer stores this coming autumn.
Blockchain is a topic of intense discussion as a solution to complex supply chains. It was originally developed via the crypto-currency, bitcoin, but has since been adapted for many data-management settings including healthcare, public administration and food security.
Food Safety Conference
Food Manufacture’s annual Food Safety Conference on 21 June will tackle the phenomenon of blockchain and its potential in a presentation entitled ‘The blockchain revolution’. The session will be led by Loretis Alisauskas, blockchain business development – UK and Ireland at IBM.
Other speakers at the event include Andy Morling, head of the Food Standards Agency’s National Food Crime Unit, and Dawn Welham, president of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
For more details, click here.
Downstream Beer will be launched at a special showcase of Northern Ireland agri-food at St George’s Market, Belfast, on 29 May. Delegates at the Belfast Summit of Global Food Integrity, which is taking place at QUB on 28–31 May, will get priority booking at the event.