St. Patrick's Day is just a week away and while I'll be posting nearer the time about some pre-session stomach liners, I thought I'd take a moment to celebrate the very best in local and environmentally friendly alcohol.
Buying local reduces the travel miles of your drink and also supports local industry. I'm a firm believer that all pubs and bars, regardless of brewery agreements, should make the effort to stock and promote some local samples. In the meantime I'm happy to champion those bars that do, so feel free to leave recommendations in the comments section.
Of course Guinness is the big drink on the 17th March and my personal tipple of choice. The best pints I've had have come from the Pavilion Bar and Rose &Crown, both on the Ormeau Rd, Belfast - the worst was served in an excessively tall glass in Honolulu Airport and was all kinds of wrong (seriously, some places just shouldn't bother). When down in Kerry years back Murphy's was actually the nicer option for a lot of places in and around the Dingle Bay area, but you'd be hard pushed to find this on draught in Belfast these days. Then we have local whiskey's of which there are a shit loads. Can't think of any? Then click here.
If stout or whiskey isn't your thing however there are plenty of other local options available. Whitewater Brewery, an award winning micro brewery in Co Down, produces a good range of ales and lager, including Snake Drive, a special pale ale brewed especially for St Patrick's Day. A few of the range, Belfast Ale and Coltworthy Dobbin in particular, I've seen in a couple of bars around town, but you can contact the brewery direct for a more comprehensive list: http://www.whitewaterbrewery.com/index.php/beers
If you're one of those sick in the head people who actually prefer cider, then of course we've Magners, the geniussssess who realised that if you encourage people to water down their pint with ice you can single handedly rejuvenate the apple fizz business and make a fortune. Why? I've no idea, I assume the sugar rush achieved by drinking the stuff makes people forget that they live in Ireland where it's cold and pisses down all the time, instead fooling them into thinking that they're in the tropics where ice is essential.
Of course not everyone is from the same local area, so you've probably got your own favourites and feel free to give them a shout out in the comments section. You can check out your local breweries by licking on the following directories:
But it's not just the travel miles attached to booze that concern the eco friendly drinker, there are more and more producers starting to offer organic and Fairtrade options. I'll be doing a taste test of a few of these over the weekend and will report back.
Oh and it goes without saying: Always drink responsibly!