Raise A Glass To Brewing And Distilling Month

Hilden Brewing Company was established in 1981 by Seamus and Ann Scullion.

Northern Ireland is proud to be home to a number of excellent breweries and distilleries, all busy handcrafting some of the UK’s finest beverages.

27995_Armagh_Bramley_ApplesBut rather than just drinking them, what about discovering how these fantastic local tipples end up in your glass, said Rachel Quigg, Communications and Destination PR Officer, Tourism Northern Ireland.

“This year is the NI Year of Food and Drink 2016 and April is dedicated to brewing and distilling. We are fortunate in Northern Ireland to have such a super collection of distilleries and breweries producing everything from the finest cider and whiskey to craft beers and gin.

“Not only that, but there are many exciting drink themed events and happenings taking place all over the country including the not-to-be-missed Hilden Beer & Music Festival which takes place between August 26-28 at Hilden Brewery in Lisburn.”

Tourism Northern Ireland has created a refreshing list of tours, events and happenings, some of which you can enjoy right now.

Raise a glass to the tour…

Old Bushmills Distillery

Positioned on the beautiful North Coast, Bushmills Distillery is Ireland’s oldest working distillery. Visitors can enjoy a guided tour where they will learn about the 400 year history of the distillery whilst taking in all the associated sights and smells, enjoy tutored whiskey tastings and be able to browse the specialist gift shop. There is also a restaurant which serves lunches and Bushmills inspired treats. After enjoying a tour of this fascinating distillery visitors can explore all that the stunning North Coast has to offer including the Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.

Bushmills Distillery

Bushmills Distillery

Hilden Brewery

Hilden Brewery is Ireland’s oldest independent brewery and is located near Lisburn in the 19th century courtyard of Hilden House. Many visitors flock to the Brewery each year to discover its interesting history and heritage and to sample the award-winning cuisine. Hilden Brewery Beers are available at various bars and restaurants throughout Northern Ireland, including Molly’s Yard, Belfast, The John Hewitt, Belfast and the Dirty Duck in Holywood.

Rademon Estate Distillery

Rademon Estate Distillery in Crossgar is the home of Shortcross Gin. Gin lovers should keep an eye out for the estate’s new visitor experience centre which is set to open this year and will take guests on a fascinating journey of how this hand bottled award-winning gin came to be. Whilst in the area make sure to visit the Irish Linen Centre where you can take an audio visual tour and see the weaving centre and hand looms.

Hughes Craft Distillery

Hughes Craft Distillery in Lisburn is the brain child of Stuart and Barbara Hughes who manage everything first-hand in their small batch spirits business producing a wide range of award-winning RubyBlue Spirits in a variety of flavours. RubyBlue Liqueurs are made with real fruit from quintuple distilled Irish grain spirit and infused with Blackcurrants, wild Blueberries, Cranberries and Chilli Peppers. The distillery has gained many coveted awards including Global Vodka Master Gold, New York World Wine and Spirits Sliver and won stars in the Great Taste Awards. Tours can be arranged which take visitors on the journey behind this interesting range of drinks.

Bushmills DistilleryWalled City Brewery, Derry~Londonderry

The Walled City Brewery is a brew house and restaurant in one making it a unique destination for sampling tasty craft beers and enjoying the delicious tapas style menu. Visitors to the brewery can discover the fascinating stories as to why the brewery’s craft beers are named Boom, Stitch and Kick. Be sure and visit the City Walls which are 1.5km in circumference and provide a unique promenade to view the layout of the original town which still preserves its Renaissance Style street plan to this day.

Armagh Cider Company

Armagh is renowned around the world for its Bramley Apples and the Troughton family behind the Armagh Cider Company have been at the centre of the apple growing tradition for generations. All of their products are artisan and handcrafted so they are completely natural and contain no artificial ingredients or flavours. Those interested in finding out more can contact the Armagh Cider Company and arrange a tour. Be sure to visit the Navan Centre which offers a unique appreciation of the history of the area through a stimulating exhibition packed full of information, artefacts and hands on activities for all the family.

McComb’s Grub Crawl Tour

Those looking for a tasty way to spend the day with friends should look no further than McComb’s Coach Travel’s new tour, Grub Crawl, which will visit some of the country’s most innovative food and drink producers. Tours operate on a Friday and Saturday and will take in renowned food places such as Abernethy Butter, Kilmegan Cider, Mourne Seafood Bar and The Poachers Pocket.

Raise a glass to the event…

North West Brew Fest, Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh, April 30. This exciting debut event is all about great drink producers who will showcase local beer, stout, ale and cider from across the North West.

Silverbirch Hotel’s Pavilion will be transformed with a beer garden theme and there will be fantastic live entertainment by local band, ‘Hootin Annie’s as well as Fermanagh duo, Niall and Karl.

Five Beer Friday, Neill Wine, Groomsport, Co. Down. Beer lovers can come along on the last Friday of every month and sample five local beers.

Bangor Beer Club, The Salty Dog Hotel & Bistro, Bangor, Co. Down. Come along to Bangor Beer Club on the first Tuesday of the month to meet some of the characters behind the ever growing NI brewing scene.

Beer Club Belfast, Sunflower Public House, Belfast, Co. Antrim. Beer Club meets monthly, usually on a Friday and is open to everyone from seasoned beer lovers to those who just want to find out more about the wide range of beers that are available. Samples are provided of new and exciting beers from around the world and interesting meet the brewer events are also held throughout the year.

For further information check out www.discovernorthernireland.com or join the conversation online with #EnjoyNI16.

About the Author

Abby Williams
Belfast based author/writer specialising in entertainment, mental health and human interest.