27 Craft Brewers In NI Making Great Local Beer & Ale

In Northern Ireland the burgeoning craft beer market has given rise to a new entrepreneur.

A wealth of people who are passionate about real ale and home-brew lager.

What had almost died out as an artisan business has made a comeback in a big way, forcing even the biggest drinks distributors to “up” their game and consider doing something more exciting with their portfolio.

One trailblazer on the scene is drinks industry entrepreneur Niall McMullan who reinvented the craft beer business in Belfast.

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In the spring of 2014 businessman Niall kickstarted the trend in the city by opening the award winning Hercules Brewing Company – at the time the company went on record claiming they were the first craft brewery to open in Belfast city for around 160 years.

The company now produce a range of ales, stouts and lagers under the Yardsman brand in the Cathedral Quarter of the city.

From Hercules, Northbound, Knockout, Whitewater, Clanconnel, Stationworks and Pokertree breweries – around every corner of the country a new artisan producer is crafting the next taste sensation.

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However, despite the many new kids on the block, County Down producer Hilden Brewery remains the oldest independent brewery across Northern Ireland and the Republic.

This month (April 2016) the Northern Ireland Year of Food & Drink will celebrate our local breweries and distilleries, so, to get you in the mood here’s your guide to Northern Ireland’s 27 craft breweries.

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Hilden Brewing Company
Situated near Lisburn, Co. Down and established in 1981, Hilden claim to be Ireland’s oldest independent brewery. Their products include Hilden Ale, Scullion’s Irish Ale, Twisted Hop and Headless Dog among others.

Whitewater Brewery
Based in the beautiful surroundings of Kilkeel, Co. Down Whitewater is Northern Ireland’s largest microbrewery. Their products include Belfast Ale, Belfast Black, Clotworthy Dobbin, Copperhead and Maggie’s Leap.

Clanconnel Brewing Company
Originating in Waringstown, Co. Down and founded in 2001, Clanconnel’s exclusive brands are usually available in bottle form at local beer festivals. Their products include McGraths Irish Red, Pale, White Pale and Black Stout among others.

Inishmacsaint
Nestled deep in the heart of Fermanagh in Derrygonnelly is the Inishmacsaint Brewing Company which has been in operation since 2009. Currently the brewery produce two beers, the Inishmacsaint Fermanagh Beer and the Inishmacsaint Lough Erne Brown Porter.

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Ards Brewing Company
Based near Greyabbey on the Ards Peninsula the Ards Brewing Company is best known in craft beer enthusiast circles for creating experimental specials. Their products include Ballyblack, Pig Island, Hip Hop and Cardy Man.

Sheelin Brewery
This microbrewery sits in the heart of Bellanaleck near Enniskillen. Brewing began commercially in 2013 and their product range includes Sheelin Blonde, IPA, Red and Stout

Red Hand Brewing
Part of the Brewer’s House Pub in Donaghmore, Co. Tyrone the Red Hand Brewing Company was established in 2013. According to local historians the pub had its own brewery in the 18th century. They currently produce a pale ale.

Pokertree Brewing Company
Known for their experimental and collaborative beers Pokertree is based in Carrickmore, Co. Tyron. The brewery released its first two brews in 2013. Products include Ghrian Golden, Red Earl Ruby Ale, Seven Sisters Treacle Oat Stout and Dark Nirvana.

Farmageddon Brewing Co-Operative
Established in 2013 and based just outside Ballygowan in County Down, Farmageddon Co-op has a core range of three beers while also producing an experimental range at different times of the year. Their products include Gold Pale Ale, India Pale Ale and India Export Porter.

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Hercules (Yardsman) Brewing Company
Founded in 2014 Hercules are the first brewery to open in Belfast for 160 years. Already listed in a number of high profiled venues their products include Yardsman Belfast Pale Ale, Lager, IPA and Stout.

Glens of Antrim Ales
Founded in 2014 and based at Murlough near Ballycastle, it currently has Rathlin Red, Fairhead Gold and Lizzie’s Ale on offer.

Hillstown Brewery
Best known in the local area as a farmshop, Hillstown which sits between Randalstown and Ahoghill in Co. Antrim started selling their bottled beers in 2014. Their range includes Spitting Llama, Horny Bull Stout, Massey Red Ale and The Goat’s Butt.

Cloughmore
Contract brewery based in the Mournes from 2014. Products include Heather IPA, Granite Lager and Dark Water Stout.

Station Works Brewery
Based in Newry the Station Works brewery is owned by US company Alltech. Their products include Finn and The Foxes Rock.

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Clearsky Brewing Company
Contract brewed, Clearsky produce a wheat beer and American style IPA (Fulcrum and Rowlock)

Barrahooley Brewery
This brewery, based near Martinstown, Co. Antrim starting selling commercially in early 2015 and currently have four bottled beers: Pale Ale, Black IPA, Irish Red Ale and Dry Stout.

Knockout Brewing Belfast
Released their products commercially in January 2015, Knockout are based in East Belfast. Their products include Middleweight IPA, Irish Red Ale and American Pale Ale

Boundary Brewing Cooperative
A publicly owned Belfast co-op who started commercially in 2015 with specials and collaborative brews which make an appearance on their product list which also includes an American Pale Ale, IPA and an Export Stout.

Mourne Mountains Brewery
Established in 2015 the Mourne Mountains Brewery is based in Warrenpoint producing ales such as Big Rock German Wheat, Mourne Gold and Red Trail.

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Walled City Brewery
Restaurant-based brewery in Derry-Londonderry since 2015. Brewed on site. Their products include Kick, Boom, Wit and Stitch.

Northbound Brewery
Based in the north west in Campsie, just outside Derry. Established in 2015 Northbound produce two ales 26 and 08.

Lacada Brewery Coperative
Lacada is a co-operative brewery from Portrush and launched their beers in October 2015.
Their products include Stranded Bunny, Sorley Boy’s Stash and Giant’s Organ

O’Connor Craft Beer
A small operation from Faughanvale near City of Derry airport the Brassy Blonde is only available at exclusive venues in the nearby locale.

Night Cap Beer Company (Gallopers)
Launched in Belfast in October 2015, Night Cap Beer Co produce beer under the Galloper’s brand. Their main product is the Gallopers Golden Ale.

When We Are Giants/Sailortown
Named after the historic Sailortown area of Belfast and currently contract brewed by Carrig Brewing of Co. Leitrim. Plans are afoot to bring the brewing back to Belfast. Products include Sailor Town Beer, Sailor Town Pale and Sailor Town Red.

Bullhouse Brewing Company
Located between Dundonald and Newtownards in Co Down, this new brewery is a converted farm bullhouse. According to the company new arrivals can be expected in 2016.

Black Mountain Brewery
Based at the Speckled Hen pub at Derriaghy near Lisburn, this new brewery is the newest kid on the block hoping to release its first products this year.

For more information log onto www.discovernorthernireland.com or Tweet #EnjoyNI16

Craft beer list source: www.camrani.org.uk

About the Author

Tina Calder
Journalist, commentator, author and content creator specialising in showbiz, entertainment, business, trade, human interest and lifestyle.