For the last 35 years Eamonn Holmes has graced television screens across Britain.
He established himself as a household name, a popular TV personality and a respected broadcaster, but in his teenage years, he was often found serving drinks behind a bar.
The Belfast man has decided it’s time to return to his roots and make his latest venture a family affair.
Joining forces with his entrepreneurial son Declan, the duo are aiming to take the drinks industry in the North of Ireland by storm with the launch of their first ever craft beer, Gallopers Golden Ale.
Marketed as a home-grown product, it shares the Belfast folklore tale of the infamous Galloper Thompson, the “headless horseman”, who came back to haunt the city’s streets after being decapitated in an accident at a local mill.
For 26-year-old Declan, the Managing Director of Nightcap Beer Company Ltd, the new business endeavour is fulfilling a lifelong ambition.
“It’s just a passion of mine, I’ve always been interested in different styles of beers and craft beers and foreign beers,” he says.
“The opportunity arose and we decided to pursue it through there. It was a dream to start my own business at some point so it’s mixing the two together, so it’s a brilliant opportunity for me.”
The former barman undertook a Film Studies degree at Queen’s University in Belfast, and whilst his famous father had hoped he’d follow in his footsteps and become a reporter, Declan had other ideas.
He is keen to carve a name for himself outside of his father’s shadow.
“I’ve worked in the drinks industry for eight years. After university I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so I just grew my interest further in it,” he says. “I see this as my own path to go down, it’s my opportunity to become my own person in my own right, but with that [having dad] is a great PR opportunity to get it noticed… but it’s not Eamonn’s beer.”
Whilst the father and son have a close bond, even joking with each other during the interview, their roles in establishing the Gallopers brand are clearly defined.
“It’s very much his baby,” Surrey-based Eamonn insists. “He told me on the way here, ‘it’s my beer let’s get that straight’.
“I’m enjoying the whole experience, it’s ambassadorial for me, I thought of the slash lines. The rest of our family call Declan mini-me, so Declan and I get on very well and see things very similarly. I just have to understand that he’s the boss and there’s no point me walking in and saying it’s my idea.”
“Dad’s been very supportive, he’s the hardest working man I know, his time is precious,” Declan adds appreciatively.
The daily demands of anchoring Sky News’ Sunrise programme, presenting ITV’s This Morning and writing a weekly column with wife Ruth Langsford for Best Magazine have not prevented Eamonn from jumping on board his son’s mission to promote craft beer.
“For me it’s fantastic, it’s been a sort of break from the treadmill that I’m on,” he says. “It goes back to my roots of being a bar man, it’s nice to go and meet the people and shake the hands.”
As the first craft beer brand to be launched by Declan’s company Nightcap Beer Company Ltd, Gallopers Golden Ale is designed to be a stepping-stone for those wishing to branch out of their traditional choice of beer.
Described as “clean, crisp and refreshing”, the “well balanced and full bodied beer with soft fruit notes” is a unique blend of Irish malted barley, combined with three hop varieties.
The product has enjoyed a soft launch in several bars across Belfast within the last fortnight.
But there are further plans for the brand including more beers in the Gallopers range, the establishment of their own brewery and perhaps even a bar or restaurant, as well as potential plans to expand into England in the future.
Whilst he’s had a colourful career, Eamonn still, to this day, doesn’t believe it will last, and is keen to promote a business idea that he believes has longevity.
“I didn’t believe the TV would last, it was too good to be true,” he says. “The one thing I was useful at was working behind the bar.
“I’ve just come from interviewing the Prime Minister and even then I think it’ll never last.
“I’ll have said something wrong and that’s why I’ve always been looking for something that would give me residual income that I can invest in.”