Craft beer: Heaney Irish pale ale brings out the poet in me – well, almost

Heaney pale ale – the bottles look like the sort of thing you'd crack open after a day digging spuds
Paul McConville

WHENEVER I write about the beers which come out of Heaney Brewery, I often feel the pressure, self-imposed of course, to top and tail it with some introspective quote from the rich canon of Bellaghy's most famous son.

To tell the truth, this would involve a quick Google or a rifle through Death of A Naturalist, or whatever anthology I could get my hands on. I've never been one who could pluck a verse out the air, which probably contributed to my underachievement at A-level English.

Luckily, drinking Heaney beers is much less complicated affair. For a start, since the former cuckoo brewery upped sticks from the Boundary premises on Belfast's Newtownards Road to return to their spiritual south Derry home, they've undergone a stripped back rebranding.

Now their core range of pale ale, red ale and Irish stout come in pint bottles with bold black print on a plain background. Oh, and there's a comma after the word ‘Heaney' (I get the poetic significance, but there's just something about it that irks me).

Anyway, to the beer. Said core range is available in pint bottles which are classically designed and look like the sort of thing you would crack open after a long day digging spuds (sorry, I had to go there).

I got my hands on a bottle of the pale ale which clocks in at five per cent abv. It pours an amber colour with a slight white head. It has fragrant aromas of citrus and a hint of sweet malt. That malt is the dominant flavour once this beer hits the palate for the first time, a sweet, toffee taste before giving way to a piney bitterness. On closer inspection, though there some juicy citrus flavours too.

It's quite a crisp and clear beer, with a slightly dry finish but it's one of those ales you know has very well put together. It's nicely balanced, refreshing and a little bit moreish. It's as uncomplicated as the label which adorns the opaque brown bottle.

As well as those classic bottles, Heaney have also canned a few of their ‘old favourites' such as Modern Red and Big Little IPA and, in time, some of their great specials will be knocked out on their brand spanking new kit in Bellaghy.

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