Life

Craft Beer: Now how do we get good local brews? All hands to the pump please

If you are an off-sales or brewery providing a delivery service, let Paul know and he'll spread the word
Paul McConville

AS WE all hunker down and confine ourselves to barracks for the forseeable future, getting our hands on some decent beer proves ever more difficult. OK, so it can be argued that a 12 per cent barrel-aged imperial stout doesn’t quite make it into the ‘essentials’ category but, like many local industries, the current lockdown could be a death knell for many beer producers.

Once the pub doors were shut last week, freshly delivered beer literally went down the drain as craft brewers were left scratching their heads as to how they were going to get their beer out to their thirsty customers.

This week’s stricter guidelines about which businesses could and couldn’t remain open proved as murky as a New England IPA for off-licences here. Initially, it was announced that off sales could remain open, but this was only in Britain, with Northern Ireland consumers once again falling foul of Stone Age attitudes towards the sale of alcohol here.

I was contacted this week by a homebrew club in Dublin who decided they weren’t going to be denied their favourite brews and clubbed together for a group buy from Whiplash. One member was nominated to go up and collect the biggest ‘big bag of cans’ you’ve ever seen, all while observing sound social distancing.

Many brewers in the south are now set up for home deliveries and Dublin-based Craft Central, a shop near St Stephen’s Green which is crammed to the rafters with craft beer from around the world, deliver throughout Ireland.

However, because brewers in the north can’t sell directly from their premises, some have had to resort to other methods. Bellaghy-based Heaney Brewery have been taking online orders, while off sales such as KWM in Kilkeel, Neill Wines in Bangor and Fairley’s Wines in Coleraine are delivering craft beer in their local areas which you can order online.

The craft beer mecca that is The Vineyard on Belfast’s Ormeau Road have also set up a delivery service.

Of course, many of the big supermarkets continue to stock some local craft beers, but if those breweries are to continue to produce the beers that we all love, they need all the support they can get. Many rely on like-minded off-licences in their own area for most of their sales and to promote their beer. I think we could all drink to that.

:: If you are an off-sales or brewery providing a delivery service, please let me know at p.mcconville@irishnews.com or tweet me @pmcconville77

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