I would imagine that Northern Ireland’s beer scene has never experienced the like of it before. Five years ago we had 5 micro/nanobreweries. At the start of 2015 we had the impressive total of 15 breweries selling beer. Now at the end of the year that stands at 26. Eleven have appeared in the past 12 months – crazy but fantastic. Here’s a quick roundup of those making an appearance in 2015.
The biggest entrant has to be BOUNDARY co-operative from East Belfast who launched with an export stout, IPA and American pale, followed by loads of festival and seasonal specials such as Berliner Weisse and sour ales. At the moment if you look really hard you might find Tis the Saison (a collab with NI’s Shortcross Gin)
KNOCKOUT BREWING, also from East Belfast, launched in January with an IPA and red ale. Along came an American pale Ale late in the year and there are plans for a wheat beer in 2016.
BARRAHOOLEY from Martinstown near Ballymena currently have a red, black IPA, pale and dry stout on the market. Production is small scale at the moment with plans to upscale soon. Look out for a new oatmeal stout hitting the shelves shortly. At present bottled output is found mainly in the Ballymena area and Kiwi’s Brew Bar in Portrush.
Heading up to the north west and May saw the opening of the brew-restaurant WALLED CITY. The Ebrington Square establishment sells its own numerous brews onsite from tap including pale ales, IPAs, wheat beer and one off specials such as the fantastically named fruit beer Cherry London Cherry.
Similar to that, BREWBOT bar opened on the Ormeau Road in Belfast this year. Most of the beer sold is from other breweries but they occassionally brew limited edition specials such as imperial red ales, pales and Baltic porters.
The second co-op to launch in 2015 was LACADA from Portrush. Their golden ale, IPA and porter is available in mid and north Antrim with more stockists being added further afield in Belfast, north Down and mid-Ulster. The man behind the magic, Laurie Davies is in the process of brewing a ‘proper big stout’ which should be available early January.
NORTHBOUND from Campsie have had a good festival presence this year – being represented at Belfast Beer & Cider Festival, Sippy of Culture, ABV, Irish Craft Beer Festival in Dublin and others. They currently have a kölsch-style, sticke alt, pale and IPA for sale. Head brewer David Rogers says a smoked wheat beer is conditioning at the moment and expect to see some more German session beers as well as a bit of Japanese influence!
Not far from them is very small brewer O’CONNOR from Faughanvale who produces a blonde ale. There may be a red or porter from them later in the year.
At the other end of the country in Warrenpoint in County Down is MOURNE MOUNTAINS brewery. They first appeared in the spring with a wheat beer, then red and golden ale – followed soon after with bottles of pilsner and American IPA. They’ve also produced seasonals such as a pumpkin porter and a Christmas spiced lager.
A word on a couple of beers not currently produced in Northern Ireland but are registered here.
NIGHT CAP BREWING brew under the GALLOPERS brand and currently produce a golden ale which comes from Sadlers Ales in the West Midlands. Declan from Gallopers says he hopes to expand their product range in the spring.
SAILORTOWN (representing the old dock area of Belfast but brewed by Carrig in Co Leitrim) have a trio of beers at the moment – a red, pale and pilsner.
Now on to a few in the pipeline for 2016. BULLHOUSE brewery near Newtownards hope to open in the next few months with head brewer Willy Mayne unleashing a farmhouse saison, imperial porter and hoppy session pale ale while there could also be an IPA and golden ale in the spring from The Speckled Hen pub in Derriaghy near Lisburn…
Good luck to you all in the coming year especially those dealing with the export market.