Number of real ale breweries in NI have grown rapidly in the last 10 years

Ten years ago there were only a couple of real ale breweries in Northern Ireland but at the last count there are currently 23.

Saturday, 19th June 2021, 12:00 pm
Award Winning Lacada beer from Portrush at the Fish City launch on 1st March 2017 @fishcitybelfast
Award Winning Lacada beer from Portrush at the Fish City launch on 1st March 2017 @fishcitybelfast

They’ve won many awards and like most of food and drink producers, they don’t rest on the laurels of their success.

Making beer is like cooking and unless you keep on top of trends, you’ll be left behind. It’s not enough to brew beer and lager and sit back. Nowadays a young, discerning beer drinking audience is demanding more. Sour beers are when the beer is made intentionally sour or acidic. Historically these were made by the introduction of wild yeast or bacteria as opposed to the sterile environment beers are now produced in. Hillstown Ale in Ahoghill do a blueberry sour beer that’s great to drink on its own or is equally delicious matched with pork or game dishes. Another trend is Nitro Stout where the usual carbon dioxide gas is replaced with nitrogen giving the beer a smooth creamy finish. Lacada Brewery in Portrush have a core range of beers but add seasonal variants regularly to keep their customer’s attention.

Lacada brew a fruit beer and call it Cherie Ramore after the headland in their native town.

It’s a refreshingly complex summer drink and the recipe this week calls for it to be made into a sorbet.

If you can’t you’re your hands on the local cherry beer most off licences sell a Belgian variation. Serve scoops of this icy treat with fresh cherries on the side.

As its Father’s Day tomorrow beer plays a part in the other recipe this week. Pepper steak is an ageless classic that goes down well at any occasion. I’ve included the method for making beef stock but you can buy Carol’s Stockmarket fresh beef stock in many butchers and delis to avoid that stage.

Either way the key to a good pepper sauce is the stock.

There’s a couple of tablespoons of cream at the end as opposed to the popular, and shortcut method, of boiling cream with stock added at high speed.

Doing it the traditional way makes for a rich, unctuous sauce.

The beer comes in with the onion ring accompaniment. The thick rings are marinated in a beer pickle then coated in a beer batter and deep fried.

Peppered steak, beer pickled onion rings and a big bowl of cherry beer sorbet to finish it all off – not too many dads would turn that down.