So the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink is coming to an end. Reserving December for, quite understandably, ‘Christmas and Premium Foods’, November was ‘Legacy and Learn to’ month. And what better place to celebrate this than in the oldest independent brewery on the Island of Ireland, Hilden Brewery, marking its 35th birthday in this landmark year.
The Grains of the Operation
When we arrived at the venue we were served a RubyBlue vodka with lemonade, apple and thyme, their signature serve. We were then taken on a fascinating tour of the working brewery, fantastic! I’m a huge fan of Hilden’s range of craft beers (if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you will definitely know this) and I loved seeing where the brewing process happens, what they do with such simple ingredients of barley, water, hops and yeast, to hear the story, expertly told by Seamus Scullion, founder of the brewery.
Back into the heat and the tremendous setting of the Tap Room Restaurant. Some mingling, chit chat and photos along with live traditional music going on in the background, then we sat down to eat. The ‘Winter Warmer’ menu was a celebration of food producers in the local area, served with, and also featuring in some cases, Hilden’s craft beers. Prior to each course our host Denise Watson took us through what we were eating and where it came from.
A trio of fish to start. Crab, chilli, lemon creme fraiche on toasted Twisted Hop bread. Hannan’s Guanciale wrapped scallop in salsa verde butter and Tempted Cider cured organic salmon on fadge (potato bread). All fantastic, but with chilli and Twisted Hop bread, the crab was by far my favourite of these. The course was served with Hilden’s Belfast Blonde.
The soup course was spiced parsnip and white bean soup with smoked paprika cream, which made the dish, and Molly’s chocolate stout wheaten bread.
Our main was something quite special, duo of Tynedale goat. Slow braised goat shoulder in a Goatherder pie topped with Abernethy butter mash, rainbow carrots and scallions in Hilden ale jus. Goat is a beautifully sweet meat. Many people would be put off by the mere mention of the word but you should definitely try it at least once. Our main was served with Hilden’s Nut Brown.
Right on our Doorstep
A fantastic feast and a real education in great food and craft beer, made right here on our doorstep. Hilden Tap Room is a great venue and the event was a pleasure to be part of. Be sure to check out the brewery, the beers and the food producers mentioned above.
Thank you to Hilden Brewery, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council and Rumour Mill PR for the invite.