The second outing of the Irish Craft Beer Festival in Belfast took place recently in Custom House Square and what was instantly noticeable as you walked into the tent is there were fewer stalls than the 2016 event – is that concerning? I think so.
Beer, cider, gin and whiskies were available and I’ll give a quick rundown of some of my beery highlights.
First outta the traps is a new one from Kinnegar Brewery in County Donegal. The 4.9% abv Great Arch claims to be a Kölsch-style hybrid of pale and IPA. That may be but I’d say it’s veering more towards a pale. A true summer guzzler, perfect for hot (and cold) days.
It was good to see County Kildare outfit Trouble Brewing manning a stall and my favourite from their six pumps was Last Crash, a 4.9% abv lager infused with passion fruit – apparently. You certainly get the passion fruit upfront – a short, sharp hit makes its way towards you before the crispnesss of the lager takes over. A certain section of the market will no doubt love this.
On to County Down’s Farmageddon co-op crew and their new NE IPA Sparred or Barred. As expected from the style – though really hard to see through that God-awful plastic glass – it’s cloudy (it’s sooo passé to say murky don’t you know), great tropical fruitiness coming through and not anyway bitter. Not a kick in the backside off their also-new Vermont pale ale, this 5.7% abv Sparred gives you a little jab to the chin rather than a full on hook. And that’s good.
Finally for now, a couple of Portrush co-op’s Lacada brews make the list. My 2016 beer of the year was their Utopian Stout and again this stonking 8% abv beast makes the grade. As smooth as a baby’s posterior with oodles of chocolate and mellow coffee. Worthy of note too is West Bay, a 4.6% Citra pale ale last seen at the Portrush Beer Festival in October. Smooth and slightly fruity but not overbearing – if you’ve recently enjoyed a Yellowbelly Citra Pale you’ll know what I mean.
And finally, finally, a note about some new Tempted ciders. Davy Uprichard was trialling batches and gave me a superb little tasting session all to myself! Included in the list were a delicious Sloe Gin-ger (with juniper and ginger), Caribbean (with pineapple) and my favourite, Turkish Delight (with rose water). Man alive they were amazing! Thanks Davy and good luck with them.