Brewing and Distilling


Northern Ireland is proud to be home to a number of excellent breweries and distilleries, all busy handcrafting some of the UK’s finest beverages. 


But rather than just drinking them, what about discovering how these fantastic local tipples end up in your glass, said Rachel Quigg, Communications and Destination PR Officer, Tourism Northern Ireland.


“This year is the NI Year of Food and Drink 2016 and April is dedicated to brewing and distilling. We are fortunate in Northern Ireland to have such a super collection of distilleries and breweries producing everything from the finest cider and whiskey to craft beers and gin.”


Rachel continued: “Not only that, but there are many exciting drink themed events and happenings taking place all over the country including the not-to-be-missed Hilden Beer & Music Festival which takes place between August 26-28 at Hilden Brewery in Lisburn.”


Tourism Northern Ireland has created a refreshing list of tours, events and happenings, some of which you can enjoy right now.


Raise a glass to the tour
Old Bushmills Distillery

Positioned on the beautiful North Coast, Bushmills Distillery is Ireland’s oldest working distillery. Visitors can enjoy a guided tour where they will learn about the 400 year history of the distillery whilst taking in all the associated sights and smells, enjoy tutored whiskey tastings and be able to browse the specialist gift shop. There is also a restaurant which serves lunches and Bushmills inspired treats. After enjoying a tour of this fascinating distillery visitors can explore all that the stunning North Coast has to offer including the Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.


Hilden Brewery

Hilden Brewery is Ireland’s oldest independent brewery and is located near Lisburn in the 19th century courtyard of Hilden House. Many visitors flock to the Brewery each year to discover its interesting history and heritage and to sample the award-winning cuisine. Hilden Brewery Beers are available at various bars and restaurants throughout Northern Ireland, including Molly’s Yard, Belfast, The John Hewitt, Belfast and the Dirty Duck in Holywood.


Rademon Estate Distillery

Rademon Estate Distillery in Crossgar is the home of Shortcross Gin. Gin lovers should keep an eye out for the estate’s new visitor experience centre which is set to open this year and will take guests on a fascinating journey of how this hand bottled award-winning gin came to be. Whilst in the area make sure to visit the Irish Linen Centre where you can take an audio visual tour and see the weaving centre and hand looms.


Hughes Craft Distillery

Hughes Craft Distillery in Lisburn is the brain child of Stuart and Barbara Hughes who manage everything first-hand in their small batch spirits business producing a wide range of award-winning RubyBlue Spirits in a variety of flavours. RubyBlue Liqueurs are made with real fruit from quintuple distilled Irish grain spirit and infused with Blackcurrants, wild Blueberries, Cranberries and Chilli Peppers. The distillery has gained many coveted awards including Global Vodka Master Gold, New York World Wine and Spirits Sliver and won stars in the Great Taste Awards. Tours can be arranged which take visitors on the journey behind this interesting range of drinks.


Walled City Brewery, Derry~Londonderry

The Walled City Brewery is a brew house and restaurant in one making it a unique destination for sampling tasty craft beers and enjoying the delicious tapas style menu. Visitors to the brewery can discover the fascinating stories as to why the brewery’s craft beers are named Boom, Stitch and Kick. Be sure and visit the City Walls which are 1.5km in circumference and provide a unique promenade to view the layout of the original town which still preserves its Renaissance Style street plan to this day.


Armagh Cider Company

Armagh is renowned around the world for its Bramley Apples and the Troughton family behind the Armagh Cider Company have been at the centre of the apple growing tradition for generations. All of their products are artisan and handcrafted so they are completely natural and contain no artificial ingredients or flavours. Those interested in finding out more can contact the Armagh Cider Company and arrange a tour. Be sure to visit the Navan Centre which offers a unique appreciation of the history of the area through a stimulating exhibition packed full of information, artefacts and hands on activities for all the family.


McComb’s Grub Crawl Tour

Those looking for a tasty way to spend the day with friends should look no further than McComb’s Coach Travel’s new tour, Grub Crawl, which will visit some of the country’s most innovative food and drink producers. Tours operate on a Friday and Saturday and will take in renowned food places such as Abernethy Butter, Kilmegan Cider, Mourne Seafood Bar and The Poachers Pocket.


Raise a glass to the event

North West Brew Fest, Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh, April 30. This exciting debut event is all about great drink producers who will showcase local beer, stout, ale and cider from across the North West. Silverbirch Hotel’s Pavilion will be transformed with a beer garden theme and there will be fantastic live entertainment by local band, ‘Hootin Annie’s as well as Fermanagh duo, Niall and Karl.


Five Beer Friday, Neill Wine, Groomsport, Co. Down. Beer lovers can come along on the last Friday of every month and sample five local beers.


Bangor Beer Club, The Salty Dog Hotel & Bistro, Bangor, Co. Down. Come along to Bangor Beer Club on the first Tuesday of the month to meet some of the characters behind the ever growing NI brewing scene.


Beer Club Belfast, Sunflower Public House, Belfast, Co. Antrim. Beer Club meets monthly, usually on a Friday and is open to everyone from seasoned beer lovers to those who just want to find out more about the wide range of beers that are available. Samples are provided of new and exciting beers from around the world and interesting meet the brewer events are also held throughout the year.

For further information check out or join the conversation online with #EnjoyNI16.

Beannchor expansion

Looking forward to this:

Beannchor – Ireland’s largest hospitality group and owners of Belfast’s award-winning Merchant Hotel – has announced plans for expansion of its restaurant and hotel portfolio.
New sites are currently being explored for the Group’s Little Wing Pizzeria chain, which currently includes six restaurants across Northern Ireland.
Commenting on the news, Little Wing Managing Director, Luke Wolsey said: “The Little Wing brand has gone from strength to strength in recent years. Its success has proven that this is a good business model and we have ambitious plans for growth in the coming years.
“We are reviewing options for further expansion of Little Wing, with a number of sites being investigated across Northern Ireland. Looking to the future, we see the time arising whereby we will have reached a level of critical mass in Northern Ireland and will need to consider options in other markets for further growth. We are already tentatively looking at site locations in both the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain.”
In addition, Beannchor has announced exciting plans for phase two of its new Bullitt hotel concept. The Group has acquired Annsgate House on Ann Street; the property adjoins Lagan House, which is currently being redeveloped to create the hotel.
Drawing on nearly 40 years of expertise in the industry to create a new and vibrant hospitality concept for the city, Bullitt – named after the Steve McQueen movie of the same name – will be an exciting new addition to the city’s social scene when Phase One opens later this year.
Bullitt will epitomise urban chic with stylish, contemporary surroundings, alongside affordable room rates. Located in a prime city centre location, wrapping Victoria Street, Ann Street and Church Lane, the hotel is a stone’s throw from Belfast’s shopping mecca, Victoria Square and the lively Cathedral Quarter. The hotel will be a social hub for city workers, locals and tourists alike, bringing a fresh approach to work, rest and play.


Phase one will feature 44 stylish mod-con clad bedrooms and a lively ground floor café, bar and restaurant will open later this year. Phase two, which is expected to open in 2017 (subject to planning), will add in excess of 30 rooms to the exciting new development.


Commenting on the announcement, James Sinton, Finance Director, Beannchor said: “Recent acquisitions have emanated from our trading confidence in the local market and our ability to create an exceptional new hotel concept for Belfast.
“Subject to planning, the addition of Annsgate House to our Bullitt hotel development will complement the existing footprint of Lagan House to deliver an 80 bed hotel in the heart of the City centre.”
The Beannchor Group owns pubs and hotels across Northern Ireland including The Merchant Hotel, The National Grande Café/sixty6, The Dirty Onion, Cuckoo and The Hillside, as well as six Little Wing Pizzerias, employing over 650 people.
In April 2016, The Merchant Hotel celebrates a ‘Decade of Decadence’ with a suite of luxurious offers to mark its 10th anniversary. For further information, visit