If you think I’d pay a fiver for four or five samples of quality beers in a brewery’s taproom while the brewer feeds me information about each one of those tasty beers, you’d be damned right. If you think I’d do that while surrounded by over forty other like-minded beer fans on a Thursday night in June, you’d be damned right again.
Such is the Out of Office Beer Club in Belfast.
Out of Office I believe is the highest FAGL brewery on the island of Ireland – FAGL being Floors Above Ground Level. It sits on the second and top floor of a building occupied by the excellent Ulster Sports Club. Creating and operating a brewery that high up brings many challenges – too many to go into now – but challenges that were, and are daily, overcome. Right next door to the brewery, which faces out on to High St with an impressive view of the Albert Clock, is the taproom. A modern, some may say clinical, space which, when filled with eager and thirsty customers, becomes a hub for friendships to be forged or maintained and warm conversations to be had. Everywhere I looked were smiling faces.
Out of Office brewery and taproom has been on the go since early summer of 2022 and the beer club runs once a month, usually in the latter half, hosted by the wonderful head brewer Katie. Among your taster selection for the night may be a core beer, a new beer and a guest beer or two from another brewery. In recent months Steven from Tilt n Pour has been guest speaker, talking about his Helles lager and last month (June) the guest beers came courtesy of Beer Hut in Kilkeel, County Down.
Included in their list were the 6% ABV New England IPA Fluff, the 4.5% ABV New England pale ale Glug and the 8.3% ABV Double IPA Thunder Buddies. This was followed by a new collaboration beer involving Out of Office and Beer Hut – You’re Crazy in the Coconut – a 4.5% ABV Coconut Kveik Sour IPA. This has been one of my favourite new beers of 2023, a deliciously fresh IPA with an essence of lychee and a little sour coconut backbone. But coconut is sweet, not sour. Indeed it is, reader. My words make it sound as if it shouldn’t work but it really does.
If you’re reading this on Thursday 20th of July you’ll be happy to know this month’s beer club is happening tonight – so head to the Ulster Sports Club social media pages for ticket details. If you missed the July club, try and get along to a future month’s club. You’ll enjoy the craic and the beers.