Belfast Telegraph

Take a brewery tour in Northern Ireland

Hilden Brewing Company was established in 1981 by Seamus and Ann Scullion. Northern Ireland Tourist Board
Hilden Brewing Company was established in 1981 by Seamus and Ann Scullion. Northern Ireland Tourist Board

By Discover Northern Ireland

Discover Northern Ireland travels the highways and byways on a brewery tour, but don’t forget the designated driver!

Given our love of a great brew, where better to start our tour than at S D Bell’s in Belfast, Ireland’s oldest independent tea importers and coffee roasters.

Sit back and savour one of the many exquisite teas, or sample a fine coffee, at one of their famous Javva Jazz brunches.

Refreshed and ready to hit the road, we take the short trip into Belfast city centre to the award-winning John Hewitt Bar.

Located in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, we meet Gerry White, Manager and purveyor of Jawbox Belfast Dry Gin, Ireland’s first 'single estate gin'.

Created in association with Echinville Distillery, Gerry says the gin has a juniper berry profile and a more classic flavour than other small-batch varieties available on the market.

We continue the gin theme and travel through the stunning countryside of Co Down to our next stop, Rademon Estate Distillery in Crossgar. Here we meet husband and wife team David and Fiona Boyd-Armstrong producers of Shortcross Gin, Northern Ireland’s first premium craft gin.

With the help of their enormous bespoke still, they mix their home-grown botanicals with imported juniper and other quality ingredients to produce Shortcross Premium Gin.

We leave Downpatrick and travel through the spectacular mountainous landscape of the Mournes to our next destination, Kilkeel.  Here we visit Northern Ireland’s largest microbrewery, Whitewater Brewery.

Producing a fine selection of cask beers, a lager in keg and three bottled beers, Whitewater has a string of awards to its name, including gold stars in the Great Taste Awards 2015.

It’s time to walk to the Cider Mill

Onwards and upwards we go to the orchard county of Ireland, Armagh. Here we meet with two local cider producers, Long Meadow Cider and Armagh Cider Company.

A family-run business, Long Meadow’s motto is 'From Plant to Pour – the perfect drink’, and their Irish Craft Cider is 100% natural with no concentrates, artificial colours or ingredients added.

Their neighbouring brewer, the Troughton Family, produce a range of ciders, apple juice and cider vinegars all hand crafted and completely natural. Established in 2005, the Armagh Cider Company was the first commercial draft cider company in Northern Ireland.

We cross the county border, astride the Sperrin Mountains, into Tyrone where we meet with Darren Nugent, Owner of Pokertree Brewing Company.

Named after a famous local legend from the village of Carrickmore, the brewery hand crafts small batch beer, with every brew fermented and conditioned in the traditional way.

Double the Brew

Our penultimate pit stop is Derry~Londonderry, where we have the pleasure of visiting two breweries – Northbound and the Walled City Brewery.

Northbound Brewery, under the guidance of Master Brewer, David Rogers, believes all of our senses should be used when savouring beers which has led him to bottle their brew in 500ml beer bottles – better for savouring, he says!

Opening its premises on the historic former army base in Ebrington Square, owner James Huey’s fully operational brewery, the Walled City Brewery, provides locals and tourist with a taste of the North West with its craft beers and onsite restaurant.

Brewing up a storm in Belfast

We take leave of the walled city and head back towards Belfast where our final stop is the Hercules Brewing Company. The first craft brewery to open in Belfast in 160 years, it originally operated in Hercules Street in Belfast between 1845 and 1855.

Its small batch brew lager, Yardsman, pays homage to the great men who worked in the Linen mills, yards and factories.

Of course, Northern Ireland has many more fantastic brewers and distillers to visit including our legendary Old Bushmills Distillery and Hilden Brewery, to name but a few.

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