The brewing and pub scene across Northern Ireland is on the up but its being held back by restrictive licensing laws. That’s the conclusion reached in the newly-published Good Beer Guide 2020, an annual guide produced by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) that features the very best pubs in which to find a great pint in the UK.
Across Northern Ireland, 16 pubs are included in the new Guide. Twenty-three NI breweries also feature, including Norn Iron Brew Co and Kilkeel’s Beer Hut Brewing Co which are both included for the first time.
The Good Beer Guide, which surveys more than 4,500 pubs across the UK, is the definitive beer drinker’s guide to the very best pints in the most picturesque and friendly pubs. Compiled by thousands of independent volunteers, it helps identify significant trends and themes locally and nationally.
Ruth Sloan, chairperson of CAMRA Northern Ireland, says that the new book shows that Northern Ireland has some great pubs that serve quality, locally-produced beers from a growing number of fantastic local breweries.
‘But in order for Northern Ireland’s beer scene to continue to grow and to match the popularity and widespread availability of locally-produced, high quality real ales in pubs and taprooms in Great Britain, we desperately need changes to our outdated licensing laws,’ she adds
“CAMRA NI will continue to campaign for local real ales to be served in more pubs across NI – especially outside the greater Belfast area – and are working with MLAs to get changes to licensing laws in a restored Assembly so that local breweries can expand their businesses, serve local beers in more pubs, at markets and events, and open taprooms on their own premises.”
The battle to modernise NI’s liquor licensing legislation – and particularly the regulations around opening hours – has been ongoing for many years. A new, more trade-friendly regime had been placed before the Stormont Executive, but when the devolved administration collapsed in January 2017, the new provisions were shelved and have not yet been resurrected.