Two Belfast pubs have been named in the Guardian's top fifty pubs in the UK, writes Debbie Clarke.
The list was compiled by a group of experts who picked their favourite pub based on “Sunday lunch, picturesque settings, craft beer, history and more”.
The Sunflower was named one of the best historic pubs, while Northern Lights was listed as one of the 10 best beer craft pubs in the Guardian Pub Guide.
The Sunflower Public House opened in December 2012 on the corner of Kent Street and Union Street, a site on which a public house has stood for over 100 years. It is recognisable straight away by the security cage on its front door, a relic from 1980’s Belfast. While the cage is no longer needed for security reasons it has been preserved as part of the city’s history. House favourites are listed as Yardsman Double Stout, 4.3%and wood-fired Boxing Hare pizza, from £6.
Since late 2017, Northern Lights, based in the Ormeau Road, has been owned by Galway Bay Brewery. Northern Lights has several rotational taps, a huge range of imported and local bottled beers, and features all the Galway Bay Brewery beers. The house favourites are listed as Full Sail IPA (5.9%) and 8oz Aberdeen Angus bacon cheeseburger and chips, £10.
This is what the Guardian said about both pubs:
As places where communities gather, Belfast pubs were easy targets during the Troubles, and the Sunflower wasn’t the only one to be attacked. It is, however, the only one that retains a monument to those times in the shape of the iron cage outside the door, where people could be checked for weapons. Today, the cage remains unlocked. A slogan on the wall beside it, copied from long-gone graffiti just up the road, reads: “No topless bathing. Ulster has suffered enough,” reminding drinkers that humour was always a defence against adversity.
“Despite its location between Cowgate and the Royal Mile, this bar and 350-strong bottle shop remains cool, calm and civilised, even in Edinburgh’s busiest seasons. Twelve keg lines pour innovative beers from breweries as distant as Leith’s Pilot and London’s Partizan (in pints now too, not just schooners!), and you can drink anything from the shop in the bar (£2 corkage). Tap takeovers with the likes of Burning Sky or Malmö’s Rocket add further interest.”