Six months ago I wrote a blogpost detailing what Northern Ireland beers were available to the public. As with any post of that nature, it becomes obsolete very quickly as brewers produce new beers or new breweries come into existence. The rate of expansion of Northern Ireland’s breweries has been so phenomenal over the first half of 2015, I thought I’d try and detail what’s available now rather than wait until the end of the year.
So let’s start by highlighting our newer breweries and their beer that’s currently on shelves and in pubs.
1. BOUNDARY BREWING CO-OP from East Belfast came into being after raising an impressive £100,000 in just over one week. Their core trio of an American Pale Ale, IPA and Export Stout are available in bottles with some about to go on tap. A number of festival specials were present at the recent ABV beer festival in Belfast but are no longer available.
2. Also from East Belfast, KNOCKOUT BREWING currently has 3 bottled beers on sale; an IPA, red ale and new American Pale Ale with plans afoot to produce a wheat beer. A review of the IPA and red ale are here.
3. Heading over to the Maiden City WALLED CITY BREWERY is a restaurant in Ebrington Square where you can enjoy (with food – crap licensing laws in NI prevent being able to drink only in the restaurant) on tap Kicks pilsner, Boom pale ale and Wit wheat beer although they’re selling out quickly. Expect Stitch, an IPA, soon as well as a few interesting specials.
4. Also in Derry/Londonderry, NORTHBOUND produce a Kölsch style called 08 and pale ale named 26 which are available in the local area with plans to distribute more widely across Northern Ireland and RoI. They’ll also be extending their beer range in the coming months.
5. In County Down, Warrenpoint-based MOURNE MOUNTAINS BREWERY has recently launched a trio of wheat, golden and red IPA. Big Rock German Wheat, Mourne Gold and Red Trail are on draught in selected areas of South Down while the acquisition of a bottling machine next month will see their 330ml produce more widely across NI. A couple of other new beers are also in the pipeline.
6. BARRAHOOLEY BREWERY from Martinstown in County Antrim has released bottles of black IPA, pale ale, dry stout and red ale in the past few months with hopes of putting some of them on tap for local pubs. A review on the pale ale and black IPA can be found here. A collaborative brew is on the cards this summer while you can also look forward to the possibility of an elderflower pale ale and damson stout.
7. HILLSTOWN from near Ahoghill are part of Hillstown Farm and have been around since early summer 2014. It currently has 4 bottled beers: The Goat’s Butt wheat beer, Massey Red Ale, Horny Bull Stout and The Spitting Llama Belgian Blonde.
8. GLENS OF ANTRIM from near Ballycastle continue to sell Rathlin Red and Fairhead Gold in their locality. A newer blonde, Lizzies Ale, has been available since the spring.
9. Back in Belfast, HERCULES produce Yardsman Lager on draught and recently the newer 5.6% abv version of their Belfast Pale Ale on draught and bottle. Yardsman IPA will soon be available in bottles and they also hope to have another new brew in the near future.
10. STATION WORKS (owned by Cumberland Brewery in Carlisle) are based in Newry and brew Finn Pilsner and more recently a new pale ale – The Foxes Rock.
11. CLOUGHMORE (owned by Noreast) are contract brewed by Whitewater. They have a three-bottle range: Heather IPA, Granite Lager and Dark Water Stout.
12. On to brewers that have been around for a while and RED HAND from Donaghmore in Co Tyrone have their Red Hand pale ale with a new Red Hand IPA currently being bottled. Their brews can be found primarily in Tyrone, Armagh, Belfast and Dublin.
13. FARMAGEDDON, a co-op brewery near Comber, continue to brew their core range of Gold Pale Ale, India Pale Ale and India Export Porter which can be bought right across NI. Over the past 12 months they have had a series of one off brews – at the moment you can pick up a Kiwi Pale Ale and the 2015 version of Cascadian Dark Ale. Some bottles of Hopburst IPA and White IPA will also be floating around.
14. From Carrickmore in Tyrone, POKERTREE BREWERY has also had a good shelf presence. Festival specials were present at ABV and Belfast Beer Festivals but now you can buy the bottled trio of Ghrian Golden Ale, Red Earl Ruby Ale and Seven Sisters Treacle Oat Stout as well as the return of the highly rated Cascadian Ale, Dark Nirvana. Another batch of Little Barney is anticipated along with a new grapefruit session IPA and cherry saison. Maybe too another collaboration with Manchester’s Marble Brewery but nothing concrete yet.
15. Pokertree also recently collaborated with INISHMACSAINT from Derrygonnelly in Co Fermanagh to produce a well received Bière de Garde. Another collab (possibly an elderflower wit) is on the cards in the coming months but until then you’ll have to make do with the core duo of Inishmacsaint Fermanagh Beer and Lough Erne brown porter. Also expect a new summer session pale ale Muck Savage 2 imminently.
16. Also in Fermanagh, SHEELIN Blonde Ale is available in the locality with hopes that a new beer may be developed some time in 2015.
17. ARDS BREWING from Greyabbey in Co Down has recently moved into a larger brewhouse. At present you can get bottles of Citra and Scrabo Gold pale ales with another batch of Summer Ale on the way. Some Hip Hop pale ale and Ballyblack stout may also still be available.
18. With the help of Hilden, CLEARSKY has been producing the bottled wheat beer Fulcrum for a while now. It’s also available in draught in some areas and plans are afoot for another new beer sometime in the summer.
19. Talking of HILDEN, the oldest microbrewer in Northern Ireland continues to produce favourites such as the pale ale Twisted Hop, Irish Stout, amber ale Headless Dog, Barney’s Brew wheat beer, Hilden Halt red ale, Belfast Blonde and the newer double IPA Buck’s Head.
20. WHITEWATER have been busy promoting their new IPA, Maggies Leap, which is now available on tap and in bottles. Also expect another new beer in the next few weeks. Usuals like Belfast Ale/Lager/Black, Hoppelhammer, Bee’s Endeavour, Copperhead and Clotworthy Dobbin are still available nationwide.
21. CLANCONNEL continue to produce their McGraths 1-6 Range: 1-Red Ale, 2-Pale Ale, 3-White, 4-Black, 5-Blonde and 6-Amber. Kegs of their brews could be available soon with maybe some canning down the line? There should also be a new series of 330ml bottled beer by the autumn.
Moving on to breweries that aren’t yet producing but hope to soon, expect to be able to purchase another co-op venture’s wares hopefully by the autumn. LACADA BREWERY from Portrush came into being along the same crowdfunding lines as Boundary and intend initially brewing a porter, IPA and golden ale. Opening soon in South Belfast, BREWBOT is due to be the city’s first brewpub. Finally, very small scale BELFAST BREWING hope to brew experimental, different beers some time this year.
So there you have it folks, a list of over 20 companies (at the moment) producing well over 70 beers in Northern Ireland. If you’re a traditional Carlsberg or Guinness drinker surely there’s something you might like that’s locally produced. Next time you’re in the pub, instead of ordering the usual, have a look in the fridges and see if there’s a beer that appeals – you may be pleasantly surprised.