Northern Irish blockchain beer launched

Downstream Beer, a new ‘blockchain’ beer has been produced in Northern Ireland and will be launched at the Belfast Summit of Global Food Integrity (28-31 May).

Downstream Beer is brewed in collaboration with Mourne Mountain Brewery and is the brainchild of two local entrepreneurs, Shane McCarthy and Liam Brogan.

It uses blockchain technology, which enables the consumer to find out the provenance of the beer – ingredients, supply chain, methods of production – by scanning the graphic on the label, which looks like a bar code, with a smartphone.

With the traceability of food now a major global concern due to the rising incidence of food fraud, blockchain is being seen by many as the solution to complex supply chains.

Shane McCarthy, a finance graduate from Queen’s University Belfast, says the idea first came when the beer, whiskey and gin-exporting company he founded, Ireland Craft Beers, hooked up with NI 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 Queen’s, who was also working on the development of traceability solutions for the food and farming industry.

Between the three of them – arc-net, IGFS and Ireland Craft Beers – the idea for a blockchain beer that would be grown, brewed and sold in NI (‘grain to glass’) took hold.

“Liam and I were looking at solutions for traceability on beer for craft-beer consumers,” says 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.”

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