Whitewater Brewery in Northern Ireland has resumed exports to France and Italy as the lockdowns in both important export markets are lifted
The award-winning independent brewery, in addition, is currently following up a new approach from Australia for its range of beers including its UK Great Taste Regional Golden Fork for Northern Ireland winning Kreme dela KremlinImperial Russian Stout (ABV10.5%).
The small brewery, which is based in Castlewellan, county Down, last week shipped consignments of its bottled beers ordered by existing distributors in France and northern Italy.
Bernard Sloan, Whitewater’s founder and managing director, describes the new orders as “the first green shoots of recovery”. “It’s been a very difficult couple of months for the industry due to the lockdowns in hospitality in all our main markets,” Mr Sloan says.
“The downturn in hospitality has been only partly offset by increased independent off sales and supermarkets in Northern Ireland. We greatly appreciate their support during this immensely challenging period. Licensing laws in Northern Ireland have also prevented us from selling from our website.
“The big problem for us were the lockdowns in Europe which halted the fast developing export sales in which we had invested considerable time and other resources. Our state-of-the-art brewery, for example, was a substantial investment in response to the growing demand from our beers from hospitality operators in the UK, other parts of Europe and from further afield.
“The orders from our distributors in France and Italy for our five-strong range of beers for their customers in bars, cafes and hotels in both countries were welcome and a tremendous relief. We were able to supply them very quickly from stock we had built up before the lockdown. We look forward to further repeat orders soon,” he adds.
In addition to sales in France and Italy, Whitewater Brewery had developed exports to Sweden and Japan well before the virus outbreak.
As well as its bottling lines, the brewery has developed a canning operation and introduced a facility for slim line cans which is now attracting attention from a leading producer of sparkling soft drinks.
Whitewater was the first brewery in Northern Ireland to win a Great Taste Regional Golden Fork for Northern Ireland when it gained the award last year for the unique Russian Imperial Stout, a recipe created by Mr Sloan. The company has also won World Brewing Awards.
Mr Sloan founded Whitewater Brewery near Kilkeel in 1996 and subsequently decided to invest in a new brewery at Castlewellan because of the rapid growth in demand for his range of original beers, ales and stouts in bottles, cans and kegs.
The new brewery was opened in 2018 and is now among the most modern of its type on the island of Ireland. Invest Northern Ireland has assisted the company over many years including the development of the new brewery and export marketing.