Lisburn Visit: Tour of Hilden Brewery

As part of our weekend trip to Lisburn, we were really looking forward to touring Ireland’s oldest independent brewery, Hilden Brewery. Having seen their different beers in pubs such as the Duke of York and Dirty Duck, I was curious to see the production of the beer and even sample a few at the end!

Hilden is a few minutes from the city centre, and the brewery’s not far from the Hilden railway stop- in fact, one of the beers is named after the stop, “Hilden Halt.”

Our tour started at 6pm and about 20 of us were welcomed by the owner, Seamus Scullion, who gave us a brief history of beer and also the history of the site itself (Hilden Brewery is the former home of Helen Barbour who married Thomas Andrews, Chief Designer of the Titanic!)

We then made our way into the production rooms where Seamus talked about the three key ingredients- malted barley (or “malt”), hops and water. He then told us about the work that goes into producing the drinks and how every single one gets its different flavours. He was really engaging and you could tell the distinctive taste of each craft beer is really important to them.

It was then back into the restaurant, the Tap Room, to sample a few of the beers for ourselves. We had the ‘Belfast Blonde’ (a light, crisp beer), the ‘Headless Hop’ (a ‘hoppy’ ale) and the aforementioned, ‘Hilden Halt’ (the strongest ale at 6.1%, with a ‘malty’ flavour).

Seamus came over to talk to us some more, including to tell us about where the ‘Headless Dog’ gets its name – a graffiti picture on an old brewhouse wall!  It was a great tour and it was fab to get talking to Seamus who is extremely passionate about the brewery- which definitely comes across in the beers!

Hilden Brewery

Sampling the malt  

Production in the brewery

Sampling the beers

 Belfast Blonde

Weekend break in Lisburn

Lisburn is only 20 minutes away from my house so it’s somewhere I go shopping from time to time- in fact, I recently bought my wedding dress there in Divinity Bridal (Longstone Street.)

But, besides taking a short trip to visit Bow Street Mall every few months, I’ve rarely been to Lisburn to actually see what the city has to offer in terms of attractions or eating out. So, that’s exactly what we did last weekend! (I’ll be writing a blog post about each place we visited but I thought I’d do a quick overview of our trip.)

On Saturday, our first stop was to check in to our accommodation for the night at Larchfield Estate. Larchfield is a 600-acre site which is famed for its weddings and events. (In fact, our friends Julie and Dan had their wedding here in 2013 in a converted barn and the venue was striking.) We were staying in the “Farm Cottage” on Saturday which is one of the original carriage rooms on the estate. The refurbished cottage consists of two twin bedrooms, each with an ensuite bathroom, and a large open-plan kitchen/dining/living area.We could tell we were in for a night of luxury!

 Larchfield Estate

Once we were settled in, we made the short drive to Lisburn City Centre to visit the Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum. The museum explores the history and heritage of Irish linen production, and includes live demonstrations of flax spinning and weaving. I didn’t know much about the history so I found it really interesting to see the transformation from flax to fabric. (Every day’s a school day!)

Irish Linen Museum

After the museum it was time for shopping and some sightseeing! As well as Bow Street Mall, we checked out Bow Street itself and Lisburn Square which is a pretty, open square of Georgian-style buildings. There are lots of big ‘high street’ names, including Marks & Spencer, H&M, Next and Primark so we came away with a few shopping bags in tow! We then walked up to see Lisburn Cathedral, before stopping at Yellow Door café for a quick bite to eat.

Lisburn Cathedral

Once we’d spent our fair share of pennies, we headed to Hilden for a tour of Hilden Brewery. This was something I was really excited about as I couldn’t wait to see how the beer was made! We learnt all about the ingredients and the various stages of production from the owner Seamus, before sampling a few of the craft beers at the Tap Room restaurant.

Hilden Brewery

Finally, it was back into the city centre for a two-course dinner at Del Toro Steak House and Urban Grill. I went for the warm chilli beef nachos for starters and the 12oz Sirloin for mains. Mum choose one of the day’s specials- the sticky BBQ pulled pork springroll- followed by the grilled Irish hake. The dinner was absolutely delicious! There wasn’t a bit left on the plate and we both agreed that we will be back again in the near future!

Hilden Brewery

After dinner we headed back to Larchfield to spend a very relaxing evening in our lovely farm cottage before checking out on Sunday morning! It’s great to think all these attractions are so close to home and it was good to see Lisburn from a tourist perspective!