Ireland · Northern Ireland

A North West Tom, Dick but no Harry

I recently took a weekend trip up to Derry/Londonderry/Legenderry/The Maiden City that place with far too many names and relished the opportunity to visit some of the city’s prominent beer establishments of an evening, as you do.

The Guildhall Taphouse is, as you would expect, just around the corner from the Guildhall.  An impressive building both inside and out, it has a very cosy ambience during the afternoon and a vibrant atmosphere in the evening.  The main reason I visited was to partake of new brewery Dopey Dick’s wares after brewer Paul Eastwood told me of his two brews, a lager and an American pale ale.

So into the taphouse we venture mid afternoon and just a half of each, for now.  The evening shall bring its rewards.  An array of taps bearing labels of local and national craft beers are available: Whitewater’s Maggie’s Leap IPA, Northbound’s 26 pale ale, Kinnegar’s Otway pale ale, Brewdog’s Punk IPA and both Dopey Dick offerings.

Lager first, boy.  5% ABV and a real guzzler.  Light and slightly grassy with a touch of lemon and floral thrown into the mix – a summer beer that could find its way out of a glass all too quickly on a warm summer’s day.  Or even a cold January one.

Next was the American pale ale – no % abv visible but Untappd has it at 5.3.  Instantly I’m hit with a soapy/washing up liquid taste on the first sip, and again on the second.  A third sip was enough before this half pint was put down never to be drunk.  It couldn’t have been washing up liquid remnants in the glass as it had been in the same batch as the lager glass, I’m hazarding a guess at fermentation timing issues.  Anyhow, it was a shame.

Popping back into Derry later that night we headed for Dopey Dick’s other bar, Grand Central on Strand Road.  Only the pale ale was available on tap along with Sam Adams’ lager and the usual other macros.  Plenty of local bottles though from Boghopper, Hillstown, Northbound, Farmageddon and Kinnegar.  Deciding to give it another go in a different establishment I asked for a taster of the pale but again found it soapy.  Bottle of Northbound it is then!

Grand Central has a smaller floor space than Guildhall Taphouse but has a great atmosphere with a band playing in the corner and a ‘cosy’ environment with the person sat next to you.

A couple of breweries have opened on the Republic’s side of Inishowen over the past year or so.  Boghopper from Muff started selling in late 2015 and Evans’ Brewery from Carndonagh became commercial in the spring of 2016.  The Derry and Donegal wans will probably have tasted Evans’ Foyle’s Gold (and also maybe the seaweed stout called Selkie) as brewer Tom Evans was serving at Sippy Fest in December.

As I was in the area I drove up to see the Welshman at the brewery, plus it’s always good to have a yarn with brewers concerning stuff that they know a lot more about than me.  He brews over 200 litres of Foyle’s Gold at a time so there’s enough to go around the peninsula and one bottle made its way back to mine.  4.3% ABV is just right for this golden ale, some snooty beer folk scorn the word ‘quaffable’ in write ups but stuff you.  Quaffable, it is.  So jog on.  Just right for the locality – a pleasant, inoffensive golden beer that’s a good starting point for anyone wanting something that’s not a macro.  I preferred his seaweed stout Selkie – Tom forewarned me it was quite sharp but it must have conditioned and mellowed a good bit in the bottle as I found it had the right balance of light saltiness and smooth stout.  Sorry no pic – I forgot – but here’s the deal, it was black and tasty.

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