The Hudson

It was always going to struggle. First there was the Factory, on the site of Peter’s Bar on Gresham Street which offered pies to eat and VIP access, slap bang in a part of Belfast better known for selling porno than pints. After that Dubarrys opened, on the border of the Pink Triangle, but never drew the crowds.

Then the Hudson arrives, surfing the wave of the craft beer revolution and setting up what’s become a little bit of an overnight Belfast institution.

The first thing you see when entering is the bar, with at least twenty different pumps on display, all full to the brim of craft beers, stouts and ales. It’s intimidating, to say the least.

Fortunately the bar have invested in staff that know their product inside out. You’ll be asked what you like, novices will be coddled and a sample of the new product is pretty much mandatory.

There’s cans and bottles behind the bar and a night at the Hudson proves the old adage - if you don’t like craft beer, you just haven’t found a craft beer you like.

Prices vary from product to product, with entry level beer hovering at the four pounds a pint mark, while specialists can climb into the double figures for the real heavy stuff. The best place to start is the Hudson’s own brew - courtesy of William Brothers of Alloa, and a sharp, heady hit of hops.

The décor is best described as Hipster-traditional (Tradster? Hipsitional?) with vintage comics, classic drink adverts and glasswear a feature. It’s not offensively gimmicky, unlike some places that would consider themselves competitors, with three different floors to choose from, not including the Heel Bar, which can be hired for private dos.

The real draw for the mid-twenties plus crowd is the massive beer garden - formerly an abandoned shopping mall, it’s seen a new lease of life as the closest thing Belfast has to Berlin - with the temperature up and movies projected on the walls, it’s Kreuzberg auf der Cathedral Quarter.

Food is head and shoulders above the standard tobacco onions and pulled pork, and available until midnight. There’s ribs, dogs and chips on offer, but it is all about the wings, heavily reminiscent of the famed Elephant and Castle recipe.

Cool without any air of exclusivity and with enough of the air of a classic dive bar to discourage the In Belfast crowd, the Hudson is a bar that’s just going to get busier. Here’s hoping they keep the standards up.

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