The rise of craft brewing in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is seeing a quiet revolution in beer and the increasing number of breweries and craft beer bars that are opening here is great to see.
Five years ago it was difficult to get a good selection of beers in bars and off-licences, I'm happy to say that this is changing and Northern Ireland now has a lot to shout about in beer terms.
There may be some breweries, bars and beers not mentioned here, but this is just a starter to whet your appetite and encourage you to explore the great beers on offer around Northern Ireland.
Many newer breweries have recently sprung up to quench the thirst of the increasing number of craft beer drinkers here. All have varying styles and ranges, many producing specials throughout the year.
Many of the breweries offer tours which I would highly recommend if you are in any way interested in beer and how it is made. Breweries include: Inishmacsaint, Farmageddon, Hercules, Hillstown, Pokertree, Red Hand, Boundary, Mourne Mountains Brewery, Northbound and Lacada amongst an ever expanding list of others.
The Belfast Beer Festival - This is an annually held event located in the grand surroundings of the Ulster Hall. Run by CAMRA there is no shortage of great beer including many representing local breweries.
ABV - The first festival took place in 2015 and was a great success. Located in the old Titanic Drawing offices and featuring many highly regarded craft breweries and food producers from across Ireland and the UK, this is destined to become a firm fixture in the calendar.
Sippy of Culture - Another newcomer to the scene, located in the Guildhall in Derry. Showcasing the very best in Irish beers from both North and South, and great local food.
Three great bars well worth a visit if you are in or around Belfast city centre:
Brewbot - Massive selection and regular tap takeovers from well respected breweries.
The Woodworkers - Great selection of beers, on regularly changing taps.
The Sunflower - An all round good beer pub.
Derry has also started to get a few great watering holes if you are in the mood for a craft beverage:
The Walled City Brewery (The brewery only has a licence that allows alcohol to be served with food, so you will need to book a table)
The Grand Central bar - Starting to introduce great beers in both draught and bottle.
Finally, if you are visiting Portrush the Kiwi's Brew Bar is a great place.
The Vineyard - Belfast
Gap Wines - Belfast
Chill - Derry
Beers to look out for
There are many great beers produced in Northern Ireland. Four beers that I think are worth a try are:
Northbound - Sticke Alt
Mourne Mountains Brewery - Spiced Pumpkin Porter (Special)
Boundary - Export IPA
Whitewater - Maggie's Leap