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All Change in Tyrone

There’s been a significant change in the County Tyrone commercial brewing scene over the past few months.

Pokertree from Carrickmore is now concentrating on distilling spirits via its alter-ego Íon and Donaghmore’s Red Hand Brewing has ceased entirely, mainly due to the closure of Pokertree, according to a source at its restaurant The Brewers House.

And so the county’s commercial brewing scene is barren. In fact it would be non-existent now if it wasn’t for new outfit Baronscourt Brewing from Newtownstewart grasping the Tyrone baton and charging forth. At the moment the output consists of a wheat beer, stout, red and IPA – pretty standard for a new Irish brewery so lets see how they stack up. Thanks to Adam for sending a few my way.

Let’s start with my catastrophic opening of Huntsman, a 4.5% ABV wheat beer that immediately after popping the cap, I knocked over, sending the stuff over the worktop and floor. QUICKLY, PICK THE DAMN BOTTLE UP! shouts my aghast soul, and in doing so when it’s upright I can see the head rising quickly up the neck of the bottle and about to spurt over the worktop, again. QUICKLY, POUR THE DAMN BOTTLE INTO THE GLASS! my now exasperated soul bellows. In doing so, the beer glass now has half beer and half head. It looks like a teenager has just poured his first beer.

I feel shame oozing through my pores.

Regardless of me tipping a load of it on to the floor, this is enjoyable. It’s golden and light with a faint clove essence. The usual banana and bubblegum in there too but not smacking your face with a bat. A decent effort that fulfils the wheat beer criteria.

The Last Stag red ale follows and thankfully I’ve grown up and am now able to pour a beer like an adult. A deep mahogany colour and a dark fruity aroma, there’s an unexpected peppery spiciness to this 4.7% ABV stag. And liquorice. And more of that dark fruit. Where did the liquorice come from? And now a touch of bubblegum coming through? Eh?

There was a good half hour between the wheat and red and I also drank water so I can discount any residual tastes in there, surely? The last half of the glass and again those spicy elements are back. It’s like drinking a saison, wheat and red at once, I’m not sure this is how it’s meant to be.

Ending the trilogy with the 5% ABV Black Sheep stout. Roasty, smokey, coffee, raisins, that liquorice again and smooth…very smooth. Me likey. It starts off a bit sweet and then you get little dry moments with every mouthful so there’s a pleasant mix of both throughout the glass. This beast ain’t no black sheep of the family. Au contraire, it was the best of the clan, the prodigal son if you will.

A good start from Baronscourt and with it now being the sole Tyrone representative, local stockists should give it some support.

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