Politicians, eh? Useless, most of them.
As well as plunging us into half a billion pounds worth of debt, the reason why breweries in Northern Ireland are unable to sell directly from source is, well, politicians – plain and simple. If any brewery wants to set up a taproom for a day they need to jump through hoops to purchase a special license allowing them to do this.
Locals can’t just rock up to the brewery and buy its beer.
Tourists can’t just rock up to the brewery and buy its beer.
More on this in a bit. Anyhow, Portrush co-op brewery Lacada had its first taproom at the end of January after going through the license purchasing process – and very successful it was too. A marquee was erected inside the brewery – which is literally a stones throw from Barry’s amusements – and turned into a cosy and quaint bar and seating area. I regret not taking more photos so apologies.
First on the menu was the new one in their limited release Salamander Series – a 7.4% ABV Whiskey Barrel Aged Stout. As you would expect from this North Antrim brewery if it was to barrel age anything, the barrel came from the world famous Bushmills distillery six miles down the coast road. A lovely, subtle sweetness exudes from this stout. The whiskey is there just hiding under the tongue – not overpowering but just enough.
Next came a surprise unlabelled bottle of West Bay – a 4.6% ABV pale ale dry hopped with Citra that had made its only appearance in cask at the Portrush Beer and Food Festival in November 2016. Brewer Laurie Davies had recently brewed a second trial batch and bottled the result. He was unsure how it would be received but he needn’t have worried – it was a sumptuously delicious fruity pale ale bursting with all kinds of mango and passion fruitiness. I really can’t wait for it to re-brewed in the summer.
Other beers followed such as Devils Washtub IPA which has already been reviewed here so forgive me for not repeating myself. The Lacada taproom was an excellent day out and congratulations to everyone involved. More breweries need to be able to follow suit and hold similar events.
Although with Stormont on hold and politicians ripping the arse out of each other at every news opportunity ahead of the March 2nd election, I can’t see issues like license reform being raised any time soon. Let’s hope I’m wrong.
An NI Craft Drinks Bill needs to be passed asap. Micros here in Northern Ireland need to be able to sell their goods at source as well as the likes of fairs and markets. At the moment go along to any food and drink event – buy locally produced cheese, ham, chutney but no beer. That needs to change.
Get wired into any politician canvassing on your doorstep – after giving them grief about the massive headache that is £500 million of RHI smoke. Many politicians bang on about remaining part of the UK, so let’s act like the rest of the UK and follow their lead by allowing our local breweries to sell directly to the increasing number of tourists as well as our knowledgeable Northern Irish locals.
Three photos above courtesy of Simon Boyle @beinmysolo