Belfast Craft Beer Guide | UK
The Belfast craft beer and foodie scenes are just some of the things that makes this great city one of the most exciting destinations to visit in the UK and Europe right now.
Where to Start: Belfast Craft Beer Tasting
Fortunately for beer lovers, you’re visiting quite a small city which means that you will be able to visit some great Belfast craft beer destinations on foot.
If you are arriving by train the chances are you’ll stop at either Great Victoria Street Station or Central Station – the good news is that both of these stations are in close proximity to bars.
If you’re arriving at the latter Garrick should be your first port of call.
Belfast craft beer hunters often overlook this authentic Irish bar, mainly for that reason. Sure, there’s the standard line up of brewery beers on tap but if you look up you’ll see a hand written chalkboard crammed with over 50 Irish and international craft beers. These include a few not spotted elsewhere in Belfast: beers from Cloughmore brewery and Pokertree, as well as German beers from And Union.
If you want to stay on the side of traditional then your next stop is just around the corner at Bittles. We use the word corner aptly as this is a corner bar in every sense of the word (you’ll understand when you see it). The interior is decorated with portraits of Northern Ireland’s most famous sons – from Seamus Heaney to George Best along with some political figures. The good news is it carries several Irish and Belfast craft beers in bottle and on keg. Kinnegar’s stellar beers feature prominently, alongside ales from Derry’s Northbound and several Bittles beers brewed for it by Ards Brewing Company.
After flirting with the traditional you might want to deviate slightly and head to a real dude bar that boasts ‘dirty, delicious dining’ as well as a formidable selection of beers. Bootleggers, on the corner of Ann’s Street is relatively new in Belfast but it’s built up a reputation as somewhat of a hipster hangout, mainly due to it’s outrageous burger collection and creative (anything goes) cocktail creations.
Beer wise, you can work your way through Irish or Belfast craft beer from such outfits as Trouble Brewing, Knockout and Farmageddon, as well as a small selection of established (Sierra Nevada on tap) and more obscure US beers.
Diggin’ Deeper: Beer Experiences in Belfast
Now that you have your bearings you’ll want to head out of the city centre to continue your hazy beer tour, but as mentioned, luckily Belfast is a small city so you won’t eat up valuable beer tasting time with travel.
Without doubt the stand out beer establishment in the city is Brewbot, based on the Ormeau Road. Described as a ‘Belfast Craft Beer Hub’ Brewbot is a bar with a difference.
The founders have created an automated, hi-tech brewing kit which will soon be available to the public. Brewbot’s menu of around 150 bottled beers is by far the biggest in Belfast and it takes in the brightest names in global beer (London’s Partizan, Oregon’s Gigantic, Copenhagen’s Mikkeller).
The industrial, loft style bar offers 12 keg beers that regularly rotate but as we’ve found you’re best just asking the expert staff what they’d recommend. As you’d expect, the staff are beer evangelists, keen to offer tasters and talk you through the background of these beers. The very same staff often play a part in hosting launch and meet the brewer style events so keep an eye out for listings when you’re visiting.
Just outside the city, but again easy to get to, is The Hilden Brewery. Situated on the main NI Railway line and with it’s own dedicated stop you can get from the City to Hilden in under 20 minutes. Hilden is a fairly recent brewery having only been established in 1981 but the site dates back to the early 20th Century and is again a nod to Belfast’s industrial heritage. Here you can do the daily brewery tour where you’ll get more of a taste on the history and ethos of Hilden. Simplicity is at the core of their offerings and this reflects in their 7 offerings.
If you’re visiting in the summer keep an eye out for the Hilden Beer and Music Festival held on site. This festival is now into it’s 36th year and is a stellar lineup of beer, music and cider.
While You’re Here: A Taste of Belfast
If the beer alone isn’t enough to convince you to visit Belfast then let us give you a brief snippet of what else there is to do in brilliant Belfast.
As mentioned culture plays a large part in the history of the city and it would be a sin if you made the trip and didn’t learn about Belfast’s somewhat chequered history. The best way to do this is to take a fascinating black Taxi Tour through the city, this will give you an insight into the people of the city and their history whilst at times delving into some of their macabre humour.
If you are a Movie and TV fan then you’re in for a treat as Northern Ireland boasts several filming locations for the popular HBO series Game of Thrones as well as the inspiration behind The Chronicles of Narnia and Gulliver’s Travels. Specific Game of Thrones filming locations include The Dark Hedges and the Mourne Mountains – don’t worry about making your own way to these spots there’s plenty of dedicated Game of Thrones Tour Companies ready to make you feel as if you played a starring role in the series.
There’s also no shortage of local and international artists and bands that stop by to perform at fantastic venues like Belfast Waterfront, Odyssey Arena and smaller, more intimate venues like The Limelight and The Black Box. If it’s Art you’re looking for we’d highly recommend booking a place on the ‘Street Art Walking Tour’ – a detailed look at Belfast’s many public art spaces.
The beauty of Belfast is it’s ability to change, new trends and experiences are popping up nearly every day and with great events like ABV Fest in September and the Belfast Beer & Cider Festival (Kings Hall Belfast) happening in November there’s no time like the present to book your trip to this chameleon of a city!
- Bittles Bar
- Hudson Bar
- Morning Star
- The Dirty Onion
- The Errigle Inn
- The Garrick
- The John Hewitt
- Ards Brewing