The Original Local has Gone Local

Iconic Belfast pub, Sunflower removes some of the world’s best known beer brands to focus on local craft producers

One of Belfast’s longest standing public houses has taken the bold move of removing the majority of its international beer brands in favour of showcasing products from local breweries.

One of the most iconic bars in the city, Sunflower, re-opened under new management in 2012 but there has been a bar on this spot for over 100 years.

The historic traditional corner bar, which prides itself on being completely free from gimmicks and themes, has earned a cult following for its no nonsense approach. Never ones to follow the crowd, the bar has earned a reputation for its diverse entertainment line-up, which features everything from poetry readings to live music and everything in between.

A well-known face within the industry, Pedro Donald, owner of Sunflower, has worked in the hospitality sector for over 30 years. During that time, he’s seen many changes within the industry but his decision to overhaul the bar’s range of draught beers, is a definite departure from the norm.

Commenting on the announcement, Pedro Donald said: “The licensed trade in Northern Ireland has always been restricted by the tied house phenomenon that excludes competition and only promotes the big multinational’s brands, which in turn has meant that the trade’s offering to the public has been somewhat generic. I firmly believe that consumers are completely fed up with the same standard offerings and now they want something different. I also believe that we now have some amazing local craft breweries here in Ireland that deserve to have their brands showcased.”

Northern Ireland has some 27 local craft breweries now, and the craft beer revolution seems to be growing consistently across all channels. The Hercules Brewing Company, the first craft brewery in Belfast and the creators of Yardsman beers are one of the breweries chosen by Pedro adorn the bar counter in Sunflower, with their Yardsman Original Double Stout now pouring as the venue’s only stout of choice.

Pedro added: “We are regularly asked ‘What have you got that’s local?’ and in my view the Yardsman Original Double Stout is a fabulous beer and it is brewed here in Belfast, just a stone’s throw from the bar and is made using all natural, local ingredients with traditional brewing methods. We’re in Belfast so why not offer a Belfast stout rather than a Dublin one?”

Sunflower’s tap range, which is now almost exclusively local, will carry craft beers from across Ireland including, ranges from as Hilden, Ireland’s oldest independent brewery, Farmageddon, Northbound, Clearsky and Kinnegar, as well as a locally produced cider from Armagh, MacIvors.