For quite a few years the County Down fishing port town of Kilkeel was the home of local brewing giants Whitewater. That changed very recently when the makers of Maggie’s Leap and Belfast Lager moved 15 miles north to a larger bespoke site in the hamlet of Annsborough near Castlewellan. And so the Kilkeel mantle has been passed to two brothers-in-law who’ve set up Beer Hut Brewing, where, according to the website, great beer lives. Let’s check out that claim.
The website was needed to find the ABV of my first tipple, Listen to the Lager… (Psssst! It’s not on the label boys.) The label does say it’s bottle conditioned and despite being settled for over 24 hrs, chunky bits of yeast found its way into my glass as did an opaque liquid. This reminds me more of a NEIPA and is in danger of scaring off your stereotypical lager drinker before they’ve taken a first sip. I overcame that barrier and found a surprising orange/lemon tang with a hint of grassiness leading to spicy coriander. This is more fruity than a lot of lagers – it’s certainly a lager unlike most others on the market.
Next out of the Hut is Wahey! IPA. 5.6% ABV and has a lovely golden amber colour. Again there’s that spicy fruitiness that was present in the lager – the spice not as prominent as before but it’s there. The orange and mango fruit comes to the fore initially and I’m thinking this could be a fruity wee bomb but the earthy spice pulls it back. I’d have preferred the fruity hops to be let loose to run amok like a load of crazed toddlers in a living hell that is a soft play area but the child harness of earthiness put an end to that.
So to the trilogy’s end and Ahoy Captain! Deliberately left to last partly because it’s 7.4% ABV and partly as it’s an “Irish Sea Salted IPA”. Well, it is brewed in a town where sea salt fills the air (as well as fish). Ahoy has a thin aroma but when poured looks not far off a red ale. The salt come through subtley at first and at this point I’d like to say what else is there, but the salt is pretty much it – to the point where a pint is more than enough. It’s one of those niche beers that I don’t think exists elsewhere from other Northern Irish brewers so fair play to them for giving it a go.
All in pint bottles with label artwork that stands out, it’s an interesting start from Beer Hut Brewing. If you’re in the south Down area and see them available, give them a go.