Not so much the Festive Season this years, but some goodies to have got.
MOVEMBER, time to grab yourself round the trouser regions gents and make sure you are healthy and cannot feel lumps, bumps, or other irregularities!
Somewhat different this month - supporting Cask Ale Week with the inaugural Bullhouse Taproom event.
Not much change in August.
July, and we are starting to see an easing of lockdown, but not enough to party!
Supporting BEER DAY BRITAIN - and local breweries - by a virtual event in the safety of your home?
TREVOR DICKSON MEMORIAL
Saturday, 2nd May
Sadly we could not get out tosupport mental health this year, but we did raise a glass or two of cider in the house to the memory of trevor.
We had hoped that things would not take a turn for the worse and that we could support the hospitality trade during some hard times. Sadly, things turned out much worse and we closed down all social events that entail leaving the house or anything that would entail close contact.
We wish all our members, and everyone everywhere, safe lives.
BFTWNI LUNCH & ALES
Saturday, 14th. Noon (ish)
The Mermaid Bar - 5-7 Wilson's Court, (off High Street) Belfast
The John Hewitt for good cask ales.
Start off with a good bit of excellent pub grub, then a pleasant walk to a nearby cask ale house.
We had intended our occasional Sunday Brunch and a planned visit to Niall at Yardsman. These are put on hold until we can safely organise.
BEERS IN THE BREWERY
Hilden & Farmageddon at The Hilden Taproom
BEERS BY TRAIN
The Central Bar, Carrickfergus for food, ales, and admire the scenery of Belfast Lough.
KA DEAN MEMORIAL PUB CRAWL
To remember thehumour & times of "The man with two names". If only he had been here to do the trip with us.
ERRIGLE INN LUNCH & CASK ALES!
Lunch at the Errigle Inn and a few excellent cask ales.
Actually, we delayed the event so that we could host it as part of Tryanuary. The Northern Lights is managed by Sinead, someone who is very fervent when it comes to quality, staff knowledge and support. The range of craft, some cask, excellent bar snack, great staff, makes it a worthwhile winner this year.
ROBBIE BURNS LUNCH!
Celebrating the Scotish poet with a typical meal and a few pints of cask ale. Meeting up at 12 for a chat and then lunch.
BELFAST PUB CRAWL
Third & final of the BFTWNI Belfast Pub Crawls in support of Tryanuary.
Various events - December.
Another night in with members and guests for some real Phillipino food, beers, chat. I think lechon could well be on the menu (for a small fee!).
Various events - November.
Out on a pub crawl highlighting Movember and health, then a Movember Taproom special.
Various events - October.
Getting colder but it does not stop us getting out. First stop to visit old friend Charles at Ards Brewing. An excellent Sunday lunch at The Errigle. Then the now monthly visit to Knockout Breewery and, finally, the BFTWNI momthly Pub Crawl.
Various events - September.
September started off with the monthly BFTWNI lunch & pub crawl, followed quickly by another lunch outing; this time as a pre-Cask Ale Week meet-up. Then came the big event - Another Knockout Taproom event to really celebrate Cask Ale Week. The Taproom is fast heading towards a monthly event and will be on our calendar for October.
September, and the 2019 Cask Ale Week, ended with a pubcrawl to sample the ales in the City Centre.
Various events - August.
Another great Knockout Taproom event, this time celebrating five years of the brewery.
A visit to Kinnegar Brewery to meet Rick & Shaun and present them with a certificate of our visit.
A regular event in our calendar - the BBQ - assorted beers and foods.
Various events - June.
Another busy month beginning with a Meet The Brewer event at the Errigle to support TransPrideNI. Then another great day out with Willy at Bullhouse Brewery. Celebrating British Beer Day with a visit to Norn Iron Brewery, and finally a Belfast city centre "walkabout" with lunch and beers.
Various events - May.
An extremely busy month. Starting off with a memorial drink to Trevor Dickson, two beerfests with local brewers, two meet the brewers and finally the Belfast Craft Beer weekend.
Various events - March.
A quiet month:
Nice to meet up again with the Farmageddon folk at their tap takeover at The Menagerie, Belfast, with the offer of a free pint for new membership sign-ups.
Belated Chairman's Birthday Pary, with sincere thanks to Joseph at Knockout Brewery for his birthday present of two gallons of Citra for the day.
Various events - February.
KA DEAN MEMORIAL PUB CRAWL
Famous for being "The man with two names" over here - Tony on one side of the place, Kenny on the other - he was a cask ale hero: fully supporting cask ale, and cask ale groups. He was Chairman of the local CAMRA branch, one of the first to join BFTWNI. He had been a brewer, branch activist, beer ticker (and had a sizeable collection of note books), he backed local breweries & cask ale establishments over here as well as in Scotland. If only he had been here to do the trip with us: Sunflower Pub, John Hewitt, John Bittles, Crown Bar.
Mermaid Munch & Bittles Beers:
Belfast Pub Crawl.
Third & final of the BFTWNI Belfast Pub Crawls in support of Tryanuary.
WOOD WEEK @ THE ERRIGLE
Hosting a week of beers/cider from the wood from Bullhouse; Lacada; Mashdown; Whitewater. plus, the first cider-from-the-wood from Kilmegan.
Meet The Brewer nights from 7:30pm (Monday - Bullhouse; Tuesday - Whitewater; Wednesday - Mashtown)
POTY - December 2018
CONGRATULATIONS TO JOHN BITTLES BAR, BELFAST
Bittles Bar, Belfast: POTY 2018
John Bittles has been running this pub for almost thirsty years. It is one of the best of the old fashioned back street pubs in Belfast. Known for large pictures of literary themes and fine ales for years, it is now making a name for class whiskies. John is a character of the old style, at times gruff and sharp but always a gentleman who knows the licensed trade for many a year. It is a haven away from the shopping complexes in the area.
A well deserved win.
Belfast Beer Festival - November
An excellent couple of days at the glorious Ulster Hall with friends. All the better for having beer from the wood (our own casks) from Mashdown and Lacada Breweries. Plus, meeting the brewers.
Cathedral Quarter Beer & Gin Festival, Belfast - October
A weekend pass saw us enjoying the whole of the Cathedral Quarter Beer & Gin Festival. It was good to meet up again with our brewer friends and get to meet some new ones. Breweries attending included: Farmageddon Brewing Co, Hillstown Brewery, Bullhouse Brewing Company, Samuels Brewing Company, Knockout Brewing, Mourne Mountains Brewery and O'Connor Craft Beer. Sadly, Willy from Bullhouse could not attend. The music was brilliant as well.
Lynestone Brewery, Stone, Staffordshire - July
It was a glorious summer morning when we got off the train at Stone station and made our way to Lymestone Brewery for a visit. Set in the old Bent Brewery building, which has lost its top three stories, it is a thriving little hub of social activity and is an amalgamation of the names of the towns of Newcastle under Lyme and Stone, both in Staffordshire. Here we met Ian Bradford (Brad) who has run the brewery for over two years and did 12 years at Titanic before that. He gave us a run-through of the 6X10 barrel set up, producing cask and bottle (which is outsourced to Holden's Brewery) and we presented him with a BFTWNI certificate of the visit. We had a quick sample in their tap room bar, the Borehole, about a minute walk away. It had to be quick as we were being picked up for a our canal boat holiday. Imagine our surprise when we found a welcoming gift of brewery beers on the boat.
Dublin Bar Crawl - June
An early start to arrive just after 11am and then a nice walk to Inns Quay and the Legal Eagle, where we found they could not serve us the food we wanted so we left for Bourkes on Camden Street. This was closed so not a good start so far. Thankfully across the road was Against the Grain, a Galway Brewery pub where the girl behind the counter was so enthusiastic and helpful to us. We got a second pint in here from their wide range of taps. Then it was on to PMACS and an extra one Euro per pint! Quickly across the road to Bar Rua for a more sensibly priced pint of Carrig Lager and another friendly and chatty barmaid. A short walk around the corner to find Idlewild closed so it was a stroll to Dame Street and the Underdog. It was now 4pm and (like the other closed pubs) getting ready to open. We were the first there and I had a pint bottle of Guinness (not frozen!), my first in many, many years. Then downstairs to a huge array of taps, including cask. The staff are brilliant, friendly & knowledeable. Time was of the essence now so we grabbed a taxi to the Brew Dock, of which I will say no more about customer relations. We ended up eventually in the Crown Bar, in a booth, chatting to a dozen visitors from Canada and just made the last bus home and no more. A great tour of central Dublin and a couple of noteworthy pubs for next time.
Bullhouse Brewery Visit & Presentation - June.
An early start to the day, getting a bus out to Dundonald to meet brewer, Willy Mayne, and be driven to the brewery (courtesy of his mum). A brief intro to the brewery & equipment then it was getting down and dusty helping to load the malt for the P45 mash and get it well stirred in. It is easy to end up looking like a ghost with the fine grain powder floating everywhere. Once the mash was complete it was loads of nibbles and a sample or two to wash it all down. Then the transfer and boil, addition of hops, the strenous job of cleaning out the spent grain and bagging it, and finally a break for a BBQ lunch, all with more and varied samples. We took this opportunity to present a token of our visit to Willy. Finally the brew was sent through the heat exchanger to cool down for the yeast pitching. Time for the taxi back to Dundonald (courtesy of his dad this time) to get a bus home - or, at least, via a couple of well deserved pints in the Crown Bar.
An excellent day out with a great guy.
Sulwath Brewery Visit & Presentation - May.
A weekend away meeting our good friends, the Henderson family, in Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway district, to enjoy great ales at their Brewery Beerfest - along with a jazz band and marvellous pies (Henderson's Butchery - no relation). A walk round the town chacking out the hostelries, and a final day touring the Solway coast and back again for a picnic on the nearby loch shore park. We would like to thank Allen for letting BFTW have a membership discount. The return journey to the ferry and a quick stop-over at The Grapes in Stranraer. A lovely old world boozer, relaxed and very friendly. Our thanks to owner, Billy, for allowing us a BFTW membership discount. Brilliant news for those using the D&G gateway to Scotland and northern England.
Belfast Bar Crawl - February
Our usual starting point, The Hudson, was closed for a refurb so it started at the Berliner for an excellent solid lunch washed down by some craft (keg) then a tour of places not visited in quite a while. Starting with the Northern Whig, then round the corner to the Dirty Onion (which once had cask Whitewater in the wood) and on to The Spaniard. Here, with the weather being really chilly, a couple of hot rums did not go amiss. Round the corner to the National then crossing the road for the final two - Muriels and Bootlegers. It was a great day, leisurely walking, good friendly barstaff and a sharp coldness ever chasing us onwards to the next point of refuge. It was quite dark by now so a short walk round to the City Hall and a bus home for some victuals and a bottle of beer.
POTY - Pub Of The Year - November
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE ERRIGLE INN, ORMEAU ROAD, BELFAST
This place has steadily been making a name for itself as The place to go for cask ale and more so for beer from the wood. It was not all that long ago that only one handpull for cask was on the bar counter. The bar took the forward thinking step to move cask ales into the appropriately named Oak Lounge and have not looked back since. So, on Thursday, 30th November, the BFTW members attended a presentation for their Pub Of The Year Award. Four casks were available with two from the wood, plus BFTW membership discount!
Belfast Bar Crawl - October
A good solid lunch at the Hudson Bar and some pints of craft (sadly Tennants is the supplier so probably dictating the tap menu just like Bass/Guinness did so many years ago.
Next came the Sunflower Pub, always a joy to drop in for a beer.
A walk in the rain to the Crown Bar, packed to the gills with visitors. We did manage (shoch, horror) to actually get a free booth to enjoy our casks ales.
A short run on the bus to Northern Nights, a burger and some craft, FInshed off with an excellent cask ale.
Finished the night at the Errigle with some of Joseph's Knockout Cherry Stout.
Dublin Bar Crawl - October
A nice walk from the bus to St. Mary's Church for lunch. A lovely makeover of a grade 1 listed building. The clientele was predominantly female for some reason. A pint of Five Lamps keg Lager to start. Crisp and very clear it puts other half hearted cloudy stuff to shame. This was followed by Liberation's keg Pale Ale. Again, crisp and clear. Two winners in a row. Tried the fish & chips - great fish but the mushy peas were watered and came in a tiny cough bottle type plastic container.
Across the river to my old haunt the Porterhouse but taking a detour via the Czech Inn for Kozel washed down with Zlaty Bazant. An excellent selection of eclectic Czech music making for a relaxed afternoon. Finally, in the Porterhouse where my name is up in light! Two of my awards to the Porterhouse from the second Belfast Beerfest. Enjoying a pint of their 4.2% Grand Day, a fresh super ctrus hopped (and clear) ale. Great chat with Brian.
A nice stroll round to Brewdock for cask Sabotage from Trouble Brewing. Sadly it was as clear as poo! Overly hopped and not on condition. Poor choice for me. Anyway, much better clear Careen German style lager (4.8% €5.80 pint Good) and a clear Bale Ale (4.6% €5.45 330ml, ok). A pity they do not standardise their serving measures, ah well, that's life!