Portadown craft brewer in line for major UK award
Ryan McCracken, founder and managing director of McCracken’s Real Ale in Portadown, one of Northern Ireland’s leading craft brewers, is in the running for UK recognition for outstanding enterprise.
Ryan is among founders, innovators and entrepreneurs from across the UK who have been recognised as the best in the business in a prestigious annual awards competition. He’s been named as the Northern Ireland finalist in the prestigious Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2022.
The Armagh beer expert, who formed the small brewery and recently invested in a significant expansion to increase volume in line with the growing demand for his original brews, says: “I am delighted to have won this important recognition that will help increase awareness of our beers in Britain, a key export market for us. We’ve some important business there already which gives us a platform for further growth.”
He established the brewery in 2018 and has gone on to enjoy tremendous success here and in markets outside Northern Ireland.
“Ryan explains: “We established our brewery in September of that year. I had originally developed a number of beers as a hobby that proved popular with family and friends. They subsequently encouraged me to think about creating a small brewery as a commercial venture. I decided to go for in the hope that it would prove popular with the wider public. We started with two beers and a dream. It was a bit of a leap in the dark back then because the craft beer industry was in the early stages of development. I am delighted to say that we’ve since gone on to win major awards and have expanded our team, the brewery and range to seven outstanding beers on the back of significant growth in sales.
“More pubs, off licences and retailers here and especially in key markets such as Britain and the RoI. are now stocking craft beers. We are also seeing growing interest from other parts of Europe from the growing interest in beers from the UK and elsewhere.”
McCracken’s has also won widespread praise for Ryan’s commitment to using local ingredients that are both natural and fresh.
“We source many of the ingredients locally to maintain the highest quality standards and to ensure we contribute to the economy here,” he continues.
The beers are all unfiltered, naturally conditioned and do not contain any artificial preservatives or other chemicals.
“This means the natural goodness and full flavours are all kept intact,” adds Ryan.
Business leaders across eight regions of the UK have been shortlisted from over 5,300 entrants nationally – the most the awards has ever had.
The Great British Entrepreneur Awards, in partnership with Starling Bank, acknowledges and champions the hard work and uplifting stories of business owners across the UK, with an emphasis on their journey and resilience over financial and other hurdles.
He’s just installed substantial new tanks which will enable another expansion in the production of the range of beers for local and export markets.
Twelve awards will be given out per region for categories including Disruptor of the Year, Entrepreneur for Good Award, and the Great British Entrepreneur of the Year. Notable winners from previous years include Social Chain founder Steven Bartlett, who went on to become the youngest ever investor on BBC’s Dragon’s Den.
This year’s competition will also feature a brand new award highlighting the organisations investing in the training and development of young people. The John Caudwell Blaze Your Own Trail Award looks to recognise outstanding examples of businesses offering apprenticeships, vocational training, and diversity and inclusion initiatives, all in the name of improving young people’s access to work.
The winners will be announced at a Grand Final, held at the Grosvenor Hotel in London on November 21.
This year marks a decade of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards and, over the years, the ever-growing network of alumni has collectively turned over £30 billion and employed around 450,000 people.
To mark the milestone year for the programme, entrants will have the chance to win over £30,000 worth of marketing support and a tree will be planted for every application submitted with the support of Ecologi.
Founder of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, Francesca James, says the quality of this year’s entrants exemplified the strength of entrepreneurship across the UK.
“The quality of entries is consistently excellent year-on-year, but we have been especially blown away by the innovation, drive and determination demonstrated in the applications this year. Shortlisting from so many inspiring contenders has been more challenging than ever, with many deserving cases put forward and an ever-growing business community thriving across the region.”