Donaghmore is a tiny village in the back roads of County Tyrone, albeit one with a beery past as is evinced by Brewery-themed road names. In keeping with this heritage, the Brewer's House hopes to open an on site microbrewery in the near future to offer their customers something unique and decidedly local.
Opened by Ciaran and Vicki McCausland last autumn, I've only just managed to venture the nine miles to investigate (something about not having a car...). On arrival I received a warm welcome from the pre-warned Ciaran, who was calling any entering Englishmen Steve in anticipation of my arrival*. After a quick perusal of the bar I ordered the sole cask offering, Whitewater Belfast Ale. Its not one I'd been keen on before but on this occasion it positively shone, bettering even those available at brewery-owned venues. A good session-strength brown bitter that I could happily have had two or three of had I been in for a drinking session.
|Proper glassware too!|
As it was we had been drawn by the tasty sounding grub, and after a natter with Ciaran we seated ourselves and perused the menus, accompanied by a couple of beers from the bottle range kindly opened by Ciaran. Although the range may not be the most exotic, its certainly light-years ahead of what's available in the rest of County Tyrone and the majority of Northern Ireland, with the likes of Brewdog, Goose Island, Anchor and Brooklyn available. Add to that Erdinger Weiss and Whitewater copperhead on keg and you won't go wanting for beer. The menu also features some locally produced cider from MacIvor's (new to me!), wines, whiskys and cocktails for those who are not beerily inclined.
|A "small" steak|
I opted for breaded goats cheese with beetroot puree, pea risotto and chocolate cheesecake to finish. The food arrived promptly, piping hot and in good-sized portions. The plates were returned to the kitchen squeaky clean, which is testament to the quality of the food. My dining companions opted for steak and Thai curry, each met with delight and a selection of desserts all looked the part. A wine and food pairing evening on the 30th looks set to be a great night, with head chef David Kennedy excelling himself with a mouthwatering array of dishes. Rumours of a similar beery event in the future certainly excited me.
|Wooden bar and whisky selection|
Three hours on a sunny afternoon passed swiftly by in the charming atmosphere, though we weren't hurried at all, despite trade being relatively brisk. Its been tastefully decorated throughout, with real wood floors, stained glass windows and local photos adorn the walls. Fear not though as there are still plenty of seats for those just popping in for a beer or three, stools at the bar and high tables downstairs with a mezzanine seating area too.
And what of this microbrewery? Ciaran attended a brewing course in Sunderland last year and plans to brew some 100litre scale pilot batches this year. In keeping with providing what the regulars want, the beers will be handed out as free samples. If all goes well a 5 barrel brew plant will be installed in 2013, making it the first microbrewery in County Tyrone.
We could certainly do with more pubs like this in Northern Ireland and I for one will be returning soon!
*Well, at least one anyway.
Update: Congratulations to the Brewer's House for winning the best Gastropub in Co.Tyrone in the Irish Restaurant awards. To have achieved this so soon after opening is good work indeed!