Food & drink

Craft Beer: Ards Brewing Company joins Scrabo as another Newtownards landmark

Ards Brewing Company's Befuggled
Paul McConville

ON the occasional time when childhood trips took us up to my mother's place of birth of Newtownards, the familiar refrain as we approached the town was "...and on your right is Scrabo Tower".

I have certainly heard that line more often than I have actually been to the town but it always pops into my head whenever the north Down town is mentioned.

Scrabo Tower has stood for more than 160 years, a fixture overlooking the town and one that's hard to miss.

Ards Brewing Company has been around for quite a while too in local brewing terms. Last year they celebrated 10 years in existence. When they started off there were only a handful of local beer producers, Hilden and Whitewater the most prominent among them.

Now that figure is over 30 (consult the Quare Swally blog for an up to date list).

Ards, although knocking about for over a decade, have been one of the more low-key operators on the scene but that has seen them tip along nicely. Their beers aren't too widely available beyond the Newtownards and Belfast areas.

I got my hands on a few at DC Wines on Belfast's Boucher Road.

First up is Scrabo Gold, a 4.7 per cent golden ale. It pours a golden colour in the glass with a bright white head. It has a slightly haze, which hints at some wheat in the malt bill. There are some earthy, floral notes with a hint of citrus.

The wheat gives it a smooth mouthfeel and there is a sweet, biscuit malt flavour before a soft, lemony taste and moderate bitter finish.

Befuggled is a 4.4 per cent pale ale which use the Fuggles hops. No, that's not something they use for potions in Harry Potter, it's also one of the oldest and most traditional brewing hops around. Fuggles is present in many British bitters and pale ales and its presence in this beer contributes to its complexity.

While many new world hops bring a eye-watering bitterness or juice, fruity explosion, Fuggles is literally more down to earth.

Befuggled pours an amber colour in the glass and the aroma gives a hint of the floral vibes the hops give off. They follow on in the flavours but you also get some herbal and grassy hints with a clean, almost minty finish.

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Food & drink