Northern Ireland

What’s the McCracken Armagh?

County Armagh. The orchard county, apple country, Ulster’s home of cider.

In beer terms, there was no craic in County Armagh. It was one of the very few counties that didn’t boast at least one brewery, until now. Based just outside Portadown, Ryan McCracken has been homebrewing since 2015 and moved into the choppy waters of the commercial world at the end of last year. So what is the craic then?

McCrackens GPA is, as expected, golden – tick. The head disappeared quickly after pouring and there seemed to be insufficient carbonation. The 4.8% pale ale had a hint of light orange and peach with little bitterness, but more malty than anything else. The dreaded Q word is about to be unleashed so prepare yourself. Quaffable, but inoffensive.

Moving on to the 5.6% IPA, label says Citra and Chinook hops in this one and as you would expect from those varieties, citrus and piney earthiness float around but they’re subdued, restrained, afraid to come out and play. The hophead that I am is underwhelmed as this doesn’t grab me the way a good IPA should – it’s far too similar to the GPA and needs an extra bucket of hops ploughed into it. Never fear the hops.


I had higher hopes for the 6% Legacy Double IPA as the label says ‘packed full of Citra and Chinook’. I’d expect any double to be well above 6% but there we are. There’s that similar malty base experienced with GPA and IPA followed by a welcome deeper, hoppier bite. This bodes well? Again the citrus then spicy, earthiness is just about there but… bah, not enough. More needed!

A good injection of hop action is needed to elevate these beers to a standard that would continually appeal to me but good luck to Ryan as I see the beers are already stocked in a few outlets across Northern Ireland and thanks for sending a few bottles my way. Bangor Beer Club will host McCrackens at The Salty Dog on April 2nd.

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