Belfast Beer & Cider Festival takes place from Thursday to Saturday, November 19-21, from noon to 11pm each day.
4000 people are expected to attend over three days as they bid to drink the Ulster Hall dry.
For lovers of real ale and cider it’s a must, but if your rubber arm needs any more twisting here are 10 more reasons to attend…
1. Largest bar in Ireland
The Ulster Hall will be transformed into probably the largest bar in Ireland (if you know of a bigger one let us know). It’ll be a place where friends and colleagues can gather and chat, play traditional pub games (not sure if this includes Connect Four) and listen to live music from local bands.
As well as the 100+ beers on offer from various microbreweries in the UK & Ireland, the 2015 festival promises to be something special for cider fans. It’s organised by the Northern Ireland branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) and their aim is to offer people a wide variety and style of beers and ciders not usually seen in our pubs and clubs here in Northern Ireland.
3. Keeping it local
Around a third of the beers on offer come from Northern Ireland, with half of the brewers in NI being represented. For the first time this year 100% of the cider will be sourced from the growing number of cider producers here in Northern Ireland.
4. Beer tokens
To eliminate hunting through your pockets for enough change for a half pint, Belfast Beer & Cider Festival will be operating a token system. It’s £1.75 per token which can be traded in for a half pint. Two token – £3.50 – will get you a full pint.
Although the event marks the 16th annual Belfast Beer & Cider Festival, it’s actually the 20th anniversary of the first beer & cider festival back in 1995.
6. Join the revolution
Unless you’ve been in a permanent Carlsberg-induced stupor, you’ll have noticed that there’s a beer and cider revolution going on right now. There are over 1500 microbreweries around the British Isles, with Northern Ireland accounting for 22 of them.
7. Live music
There will be live music provided by local acts for the duration of the festival. Highlights include The Dandy Horses, Hot Whiskey and Becca Hopkins from Decomposing In Paris (who will also be working behind the bar at the event).
8. Hand pumps
Hand pumps are a fairly infrequent site in Belfast, but at the Belfast Beer & Cider Festival you’ll see 80 of them in operation.
9. Beer app
Perhaps the best news of all for those planning to attend is the beer app which will be available to download during the festival to keep you up to date with which beers are on and which of your favourites are running low (prompting a hastier than usual exit from work). The App is IOS only, not for Andriod. You’ll find it now in the Apple Store.
Everyone coming over the door for the three-day festival will get a programme and a commemorative pint glass which will act as your vessel for your adventure in cider and beer. The pint glass is yours to keep so best not drop it. Not that anyone deliberately drops their pint glass. It’s usually more to do with the amount of times they’ve refilled it.
Entry costs £5 all day Thursday and on Friday and Saturday before 4pm. It’s 7pm if you arrive later than 4pm on Friday or Saturday.
If you’re a member of CAMRA or Beoir members entry is £2 at all times.
Admission fee includes a programme and souvenir glass.