Craft brewer in Derry develops beer based on 300-year-old recipe

Derry City’s newest craft beer is quite literally steeped in the history of the city.

The beer, which is being launched on the banks of the Foyle this weekend as part of the city’s Slow Food Festival, is based on an extraordinary recipe which dates back to the Siege of the city.

The Walled City Brewery’s ‘1689’ Mumm ale will be officially unveiled during the exciting new festival organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council.

James Huey raises a toast to the Walled City Brewery's new '1689' beer inspired by a recipe dating back to the Siege of Derry, which is being launched as part of Derry City and Strabane District Council's Slow Food Festival taking place this weekend, October 7th and 8th, in Guildhall Square from 12 noon-6pm. See www.derrystrabane.com/food

Aeidin McCarter, Head of Culture with Derry City and Strabane District Council, congratulated Walled City Brewery on offering an authentic taste of the North West by crafting food and drink products linked to the history of the city.

She suggsted that ’1689’ would continue to tell the story of an historic city as an international tourism destination in a very unique and innovative way.

"These sort of initiatives also play a key role in firmly placing this region on the visitor map for our award-winning ‘LegenDerry and local’ food and drink offer.”

James Huey, owner of the Walled City Brewery, will launch the ground-breaking new craft beer at a gala function on Saturday evening and festival-goers will also be able to sample the earthy botanics of the historic tipple in the Craft Beer Garden located in Guildhall Square during the day.

The experienced Head Brewer was fascinated to discover the existence of a heady 17th Century beer reportedly found in the home of Governor George Walker during the Siege of Derry, while embarking on research into the city’s brewing and distilling heritage.

The Siege Diaries housed in the city’s archives document a potent tonic infused with around 77 soothing herbs and spices, many of which are either now extinct or declared poisonous by the World Health Organisation.

As James Huey explained, this special brew appears to have been an elixir to treat a range of ailments including ‘lingering distemper’ and toothache and was not intended to be drunk for pleasure. The ancient recipe also bizarrely had 11 uncooked eggs added at the end of the fermentation process but that is definitely not replicated in the well refined new product which does not claim to have any medicinal properties.

The Head Brewer explained that while the modern day aperitif version may still remain potent in terms of its alcohol content, it should go down the hatch – in moderation - a lot more smoothly than the unique concoction which was brewed at the time of the Siege.

Using all local ingredients including water drawn from a well close to the site of the famous breaking of the boom on the River Foyle which ended the blockade, ‘1689’ will be largely aimed at the tourist market and visitors seeking a “taste of Derry”.

This year’s festival will be held on October 7th and 8th from 12 noon-6pm and it will incorporate local craft beer demos and tastings as well as showcasing the region’s finest artisan produce and the culinary flair of some of its most talented chefs and brewers who will be joined by renowned eco-chef and food writer, Tom Hunt for the two-day celebrations.

For full details on the Slow Food demonstration programme including brewing master-classes, harvest market, street food and free family-friendly activities in Guildhall Square including Kidz Farm and smoothie bike machine check out derrystrabane.com

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