Northern Ireland

A County Antrim Hooley with a Kiwi

A new brewery has emerged from the Glens of Antrim.  No, not Glens of Antrim Ale, the other one. “Eh?” Yup, that was also my reaction when I became aware of it.  Barrahooley Brewery based just outside the small village of Martinstown has been flying so low under the radar it was in danger of crashing into Glenravel itself.

Sam Birkett is the man in charge, a Scotsman from Dumfries and Galloway but living in Northern Ireland the past ten years.  His love of craft beer and real ale came about while working in London, “I was struck by the massive choice of beers available in the bars and immediately fell in love with the modern American style craft beers and ales on offer.  At that time I just wasn’t able to find any beers that came close back home in Northern Ireland so decided to try brewing my own”.

He became hooked on learning about the brewing process and a few years later Barrahooley Brewery was born.   Over the past couple of months he’s been lying very low by distributing some sample beers in the immediate area but is slowly starting to extend his distribution area.  At the moment you can buy a bottle conditioned single hopped (Cascade) pale ale and a black IPA, with moves afoot for a dry stout and Irish red in the next couple of weeks.

The 4.8% abv pale ale is crisp and fresh on the nose with a light, but not overbearing, grapefruit taste.  A good session beer that is just crying out to be consumed again and again on a sunny spring evening.

 

Moving on to the 4.8% abv black IPA, Sam told me he became inspired to brew it after tasting one at a beer festival in Glasgow last summer.  I’m glad he did because it’s a cracking beer.  The hops waft around your nose before the great combination of big hop and slight roastiness upon tasting.  It’s my favourite of the two and Sam’s also in the same boat. 

 

I became aware of Barrahooley (it’s a townland if you’re wondering) when Kiwi’s Brew Bar in Portush started stocking their wares.  If you haven’t been to Portrush in a while, do yourself a massive favour by going and have a wee jook into Kiwi’s.  You’d quickly walk past it if you weren’t looking for it though so keep your eyes peeled, it used to be the Playhouse on Main St beside the Port Hotel.

Owner Kris Charteris has lived in NI since 2001 and opened the bar in early 2014 with the aim of stocking something different.  And you’re guaranteed of that as Kiwi’s is an Aladdin’s Cave of beer, stashing some of the latest and tastiest treasures from NI, Republic of Ireland and England (at the moment stocking bottles of Mad Hatter, Eight Degrees, Ilkley, Beavertown, PokerTree, Hilden and Redchurch).  And it’s not only the beers.  The bar does an amazing 6 Nations burger menu, the Ireland offering is a rump steak burger with black pudding, potato bread, fried egg and ketchup!  In my opinion this place is undoubtedly the best bar on the north coast, I’d love to live closer to it than I do.   Just make sure when you visit, you’re hungry and thirsty.

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