Beer: Poetic pours from Heaney Farmhouse Brewing

Home's Modern Red is a left-field take on a traditional Irish style
Paul McConville

HOME is definitely where the heart is for Heaney Farmhouse Brewing, if not their beer.

The name synonymous with Bellaghy in south Derry was first slapped onto beer bottles around Christmas of 2016 and the early months of last year saw them hit the shelves in earnest with the long term dream of setting up a brewery in the homeland still very much burning bright.

Heaney started off on relatively safe ground with a blonde, red ale and stout, all of which went down a treat. Since then, they have found the creative rhythm of their homeland and plugged into the endless invention of their temporary home at Boundary in east Belfast.

I managed to get my hands on a couple of their more recent creation and the Easter break proved a timely occasion to enjoy some locally crafted ales.

First up was Modern Red, a self-explanatory name which hints at left-field take on a traditional Irish style. It comes in at 6 per cent, making it slightly stronger than your average red ale.

It pours a dark brown colour and is almost opaque in the glass with a great deal of murkiness going on. In order to bring a modern twist to the style, they've ramped up the malt bill and the beer throws up aromas of toffee and caramel.

The souped-up malt is apparent from the first sip, it's all there in its sweet, biscuity glory but this beer is much more than a big malt bomb. They've chucked a fair few hops at this one too. A bit of citra in the whirlpool, which bring a nice citrusy zing to proceedings, and a dry hopping of cascade all come together to make this a fairly complex brew.

It's an epic battle between malt and hops and I think the malt just shades it, but I think the game is the real winner here, Clive.

Heaney's Gingerbread Imperial Milk Stout came out as a winter beer, but when it snows on Easter Monday and the fire's lit, it's the perfect accompaniment.

Weighing in at a bold 8 per cent, it hides the strength well. There's the smooth, velvety mouthfeel of a milk stout with loads of sweet, treacle flavours and a warming hint of gingerbread.

It's lip-lickingly good, a dessert of a beer that deserves to be sampled whatever the weather. Really homely.

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