Belfast is currently enjoying a love affair with beer. From craft ales to local brews, there is something to delight even the most discerning palate. My brother -in-law, Alan, is a huge fan of these speciality beers and so the Belfast Bierfest hit the city at the perfect time, his birthday. We visited the festival, which ran from 18-22 May at Custom House Square, on the Friday night. In typical Belfast style it was lashing outside and so we felt pretty smug that we had booked a table inside the beer tent rather than having to huddle under an umbrella in the rain.
Inside the Bavarian FestTent, which featured row upon row of tables kitted out in eye-catching blue and white checked table cloths, we were shown to our table. We were lucky enough to have been allocated a table at the front, located near the stage (and the bar) were a band was already getting the crowd into the mood for the night ahead, with an upbeat mix of live German music.
After getting settled at our table, it was time to get serious about the reason we were there: beer. Three handcrafted beers were on offer at the Bierfest, however on the Friday night they had sold out of the Craftbier and so our options were the Festbier, which is a dark ale, or the Weißbier, which was a wheat beer. As part of our ticket price, we each received our first, two pint, stein free and for this I opted for the Weißbier, which was light and maybe a little too easy to drink. I was delighted to see that inside the tent there was table service with your drinks being served by waiters in authentic Lederhosen and Dirndl.
There was nine of us in our party and as people were coming from work, we arrived in dribs and drabs. However, before long our table, and the beer tent, were full of people. There was a terrific atmosphere with people laughing, enjoying traditional German cuisine and dancing along to tunes played alternately by the band and by a DJ.
Whilst we enjoyed the German beer, the Belfast Bierfest was more than just a beer festival. There was also a German Village with wooden huts selling everything from Bratwurst to authentic German products. There is also a fun play area where children could enjoy traditional German fun activities, making this the ideal event for the whole family.
As the bar closed on the night’s festivities and happy revellers spilled onto the streets, it is pretty safe to say that the taste of Germany was a real success in Belfast.