Make no mistake, I love Portrush. It’s where the family would take day trips when I was a child and it’s where I now take my family for the same – driving the dodgem cars and sliding down the helter skelter at Barry’s amusements, eating a 10% meat (probably) sausage supper in a chippy and generally enjoying life. Life got even better last weekend when the town’s co-op brewery Lacada hosted the 1st Portrush Beer and Food Festival in the impressive town hall. As well as the host, north coast local breweries Northbound, Glens of Antrim and O’Connor were present alongside Farmageddon, Knockout, Co. Donegal’s Kinnegar, 8 Degrees from Co. Cork and Yellowbelly from Co. Wexford. Add to that Bushmills and Long Meadow cider.
First was an interesting new brew released for the festival. Lacada already have a sour, Eldersauer, but Sauer Beans has the addition of coffee beans in collaboration with Portrush’s harbour cafe, Babushka. Putting it gently – beardy hipsters look away now – I’m not the greatest fan of sours, but Sauer Beans (4.2% ABV) ticked some of the boxes that most sours don’t tick for me. It wasn’t overpowering and there was a gentle belly tickle of coffee. Mrs W really liked it and I must confess I sort of liked it too – it was interesting mix of light gooseberry and coffee bean (is there another Irish coffee sour on the market?)
It was great to see three well respected southern breweries represented and fair play to the organisers for securing them. Kinnegar from Rathmullan in Co Donegal already have a very visible presence in Northern Ireland but less so Yellow Belly from Wexford. The brewery lies beneath Simon Lambert & Sons pub and they brought a seriously impressive range of nine beers with them – from fruity sours and pale ales to imperial IPAs.
My choice of Yellow Belly’s was the cask Imperial IPA Queen Lizzie (8.3% ABV) – a single dry hopped English ale. Some hints of citrus fruit at the start following on with a welcoming dryness. Congrats to Yellow Belly for their branding – every one of their pumpclips is, literally, a work of art.
It was also great to see County Cork’s 8 Degrees at the festival. Co-brewer Scott is from New Zealand and I wonder how much influence one of Lacada’s founders, Kris of Kiwi’s BrewBar in Portrush, had in their appearance? Anyway, on tap when I was there on the Friday were the Amarillo IPA, Kolsch style Going Out Out, DIPA Supernova, which I’d tried at the recent Irish Beer Festival in Dublin, and the always tasty Full Irish – brewed using 100% Irish malt.
A tip of the hat to Michael O’Connor of O’Connor Craft Beer near Greysteel for the Game of Thrones inspired A Beer Has No Name. He confessed that after brewing the amber he still didn’t have a name shortly before the festival started. However his GoT loving brother came up with the title, much to Michael’s confusion as he doesn’t watch the show.
Again congratulations to all involved with the creation and smooth running of the 1st Portrush Beer and Food Festival. I’ve only mentioned a small snippet of what was available so if you fancy seeing more I’m sure the organisers are already planning 2017’s festival … aren’t they?
It’s great to see another reason for heading to the Port – man cannot live by chips and roller coasters alone.