Having started brewing craft beers on their farm in Randalstown, County Antrim in 2013, Hillstown Brewery have come a long way since then, winning awards, rebranding and making increasingly more progressive and inventive beers. They were kind enough to send us samples of two of their most recent specials to check out.
Hillstown Brewery – The Full Boar Crew
Brut IPAs are an acquired taste. If you’re not familiar with the style, the name is borrowed from the champagne world because of the similarities; it’s a super dry beer, clean, crisp and often as close to a champagne in flavour as it is to any other beer. Brewed as an anti-thesis to the super sweet, mega fruity, hoppy juice bombs that have been the favoured style of most beer lovers, nerds and hipsters in recent years – Brut IPAs feel like a beer made for the brewers and for drinkers crying out for a change of pace. A palate cleanser, something different.
Hillstown’s take on the style is a solid effort – 6.2% ABV, incredibly dry, very refreshing; there’s a hint of malt in the mix which gives it more flavour than some other Brut IPAs we’ve tried. It’s a decent beer – and it’s great to see a Northern Irish brewery tackle this on-trend style – but we’re not convinced it’s a trend that’s going to explode in popularity the way other IPA styles have before it.
The Blueberry Badger Parade
Can we just take a minute to LOOK at the colour of this beer. Hillstown’s first ever sour is a 3.5% Blueberry & Juniper treat. They used botanicals from Frankie & Eileen’s distillery, with 55% of the beer consisting of blueberries. It pours a gorgeous pinky, purple, blueberry hue. You can tell it’s absolutely ram-packed full of fruit from the colour to the aroma.
Super easy drinking, sour but not face-twistingly so, incredibly refreshing and more-ish. It’s a little bit thin, but at this ABV, packs in a lot of flavour. We’d love to see a stronger version of this with added lactose to give it more body but as it stands, it’s already our favourite sour beer brewed in Northern Ireland to-date. Grab a bottle of this and share it with someone who usually opts for a fruity cider – open to their eyes to what the world of craft beer can offer.