The first ‘Fest at Raceview Mill’ in Broughshane brought together local food and drink producers as well as hosting many different arts and crafts stalls.
A great selection of beer was on offer from Counties Down (Farmageddon), Tyrone (Pokertree), Meath (Bru) and Manchester (Marble Brewing’s Lagonda IPA is fantastic), as well as local cider and moonshine(!) – I’ll fill you in later.
However I have to confess the main reason I attended the festival was to sample the wares of Northern Ireland’s newest brewery, Hillstown near Ahoghill. They have a farmshop and have recently been feeding their cattle a homebrewed 12% stout! And whaddaya know, they were giving out free tasters to the public. What a sublime stout it was too – tasty, rich and full bodied but without having an initial strong alcoholic punch to it. I stress ‘initial’ – as I wouldn’t advise consuming too much just in case you forget your name.
Though the stout isn’t on general sale yet, they were selling their new Wayne’s Wheat, a 5.3%abv wheat beer. Brewed in collaboration with the homebrew company Get ‘er Brewed and named after John Wayne who apparently came from the area (who knew?) it’s a sessionable beer with slight tones of spice and banana. When I saw that description on the bottle I immediately thought of Franciscan Well’s Friar Weiss – which tastes much better from cask than bottle by the way. Although I would have preferred more of a spicy punch to Wayne’s Wheat, it’s definitely a beer that can put Hillstown on the local brewing map. Fair play guys.
Talking about receptacles let’s move on to that moonshine – New Harvest Distillery producing moonshine in a jam jar for a fusion of Oregon USA meets Ballymena. Yeah, I’ll just let you think about that one for a moment. A 20% liquid apple pie with spices that makes you want more … as well as a side of custard.
Away from the alcohol, Hillstown were also selling their uncooked meats as well as serving up tasty beef brisket, pulled pork and burgers. The kids were kept entertained with inflatable slides, facepainting and games while music was plentiful and entertaining throughout the Saturday.
A great afternoon’s craic though if the organisers could kindly arrange more favourable weather next year, that’d be great. Organising a festival in summer time, are ye mad?