Posted: 13 August '12 by Niall and Kelly
It really wasn’t so long ago that the discerning beer-drinker in Northern Ireland had no choice but to import expensive brews over the internet or hunt down one of the few specialist off-licences that stock weird and wonderful beers. Although we’re not exactly flush with micro-breweries these days, there are more local breweries popping up and they’re producing some excellent beers.
Ballyblack Stout from The Ards Brewing Company is one of this new breed. I tried this robust stout at The Belfast Beer and Cider Festival 2011 way back in October and loved it – but finding it after the festival proved to be pretty difficult.
By chance I went into Bittles Bar on Church Lane in Belfast for a quick pint after work, but it was a real stroke of luck – there’s a treasure-trove of the harder-to-find local beers in there, and Ballyblack Stout was among them!
About the beer
- Beer: Ballyblack Stout
- Format: Bottle Conditioned
- Alcohol: 5.0%
- Brewery: Ards Brewing Company
- Style: Stout
- Where to buy it: Bittles Bar on Church Lane in Belfast
The stout has a dark-brown body with a lively, white head. As soon as I poured my glass of beer, strong roast coffee and dark chocolate aromas were immediately noticeable, and this was reflected in the taste, initially at least.
There’s a bit of a surprise ingredients list – seaweed finings. They’re usually added to to clear the beer of cloudiness – but that’s not so much of an issue with dark beer or stout. While finings shouldn’t add any flavour to the beer, I think there’s a discernible salty flavour somewhere in the background of the Ballyblack Stout. In that post about the Belfast Beer Festival I’d mentioned that I thought I could taste blue cheese in the long finish, and tasting the stout for a second time confirmed it. Whether this is down to the combination of the chocolate notes in the beer and the vegetal flavours of seaweed, I don’t know – but I like it.
Tasting the Ballyblack Stout again confirmed what I thought the first time – I love this beer!
It has the big in-your-face flavours that I love in this style of beer, but it’s own unique character too. The black coffee and dark chocolate flavours are pretty common elements in these stouts – it’s a combination that works well together – but it’s the savoury, “blue cheese” notes in the finish which distinguish this offering from Ards Brewing Company.. Delicious!
You can find Bittles at:
70 Upper Church Lane,
You can also find Bittles Bar on Google Maps.
Categories: The Pint & Pitcher