Craft beer: Ards Brewing Company joins Scrabo as another Newtownards landmark
On occasion, when childhood journeys took us to my mother’s birthplace, Newtownards, the familiar refrain as we approached the town was “…and to your right is Scrabo Tower” .
I’ve certainly heard this line more often than I’ve been in town, but it always comes to mind whenever north of downtown is mentioned.
Scrabo Tower has been around for over 160 years, a must-see overlooking the city and hard to miss.
Ards Brewing Company has also been around for a while in terms of local brewing. Last year they celebrated their 10th anniversary. At first, there were only a handful of local beer producers, Hilden and Whitewater being the largest of these.
Now that number is over 30 (check the Quare Swally blog for an up-to-date list).
Ards, although striking for over a decade, has been one of the more low-key operators on the scene, but it has seen them evolve well. Their beers aren’t too widely available beyond the Newtownards and Belfast areas.
I got my hands on a few at DC Wines on Boucher Road in Belfast.
The first is Scrabo Gold, a 4.7% golden beer. It pours a golden color into the glass with a brilliant white foam. It has a slight haze, which hints at wheat in the malt bill. There are earthy and floral notes with a hint of citrus.
The wheat gives it a smooth mouthfeel and there is a sweet biscuit malt flavor before a sweet, lemony taste and a moderate bitter finish.
Befuggled is a 4.4% lager that uses Fuggles hops. No, it’s not something they use for potions in Harry Potter, it’s also one of the oldest and most traditional brewing hops. Fuggles is present in many British bitters and pale ales and its presence in this beer contributes to its complexity.
While many New World hops bring a bitterness or a juicy, fruity explosion, Fuggles is literally more down to earth.
Befuggled pours an amber color into the glass and the aroma gives off a hint of the floral vibes that the hops give off. They follow in the flavors, but you also get herbal and herbal notes with a clean, almost minty finish.