Growing up in Belfast in the 70s and 80s was enough to put me off organised religion for life. They were troubled times and lots of young people like myself could not wait to get away to university on the mainland and away from the horrendous sectarian politics of the time.
What was bad for Ulster at the time has turned out to be good for the UK craft beer movement 25 years later with a whole plethora of Ulster brewers, brewing at some of the top rated UK breweries. Watch this space for an uber Ulster Exile collaboration featuring brewers working at Beavertown, Brewdog, Bullfinch, Buxton, Magic Rock, Marble, Weird Beard and possibly more.
Fortunately things have got a little better in recent years. This brain drain has not stopped Northern Ireland from producing some pretty decent beers themselves. Derek from Nelson Sauvin first took me to a farm in Comber to meet a cross community collective of guys and girls into punk music and beating the crap out of each other (martial arts), Farmageddon Brewing. We were provided with a bacon butty and a fantastic glass of cask IPA, lovely.
I next met the guys at the Belfast CAMRA festival where their White IPA stole the show and we talked about these experimental hops that they had gotten hold of. They were coming to London to be at Craft Beer Rising so I invited them along to brew with us and they said that they would bring the hops.
We all know that the best way to showcase some new hops is to put a fucktonne of them into a double IPA. Simple malt bill, some Mosaic and Amarillo kettle hops then a big dry hop with two experimental hop varieties, one called Wolf, the other as yet unnamed but going under the codename of Farmageddon. What you get is an 8.3% beer bursting with interesting and not 100% familiar, fruity, juicy hop character.
As ever naming the beer is a lot of fun. It is well documented that we take inspiration from music and the Farmageddon guys are into their Punk so we listened to a number of Ulster punk bands for inspiration. In the end "Suspect Device" by the awesome Stiff Little Fingers narrowly beating out "Punishment Beating" by Runnin' Riot.
Listen to Suspect device Below... Beware: it can be a real earworm!
The beer will be launched at our tap takeover at the Bottle Shop in Druid Street on Saturday 23rd April. So come along and try the beer and say hello.