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The John Hewitt, Belfast

Pub added by Old Boots
51 Donegal Street
Phone: 02890233768

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: 7 of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Blackthorn _ left this review about The John Hewitt

A good sized and popular pub, it was pretty much full to capacity on our Saturday evening visit, perhaps on account of the traditional Irish band playing away in the corner. Fortunately we managed to grab a table in the snug to the side just as someone was leaving.

Internally it’s primarily one large, open plan room, with etched glass in the windows, Victorian style mosaic tiling around the bar counter and wooden boards elsewhere. Deep red paintwork was on both the walls and ceiling, whilst a dark wooden porch complete with stained glass protruded in to the pub and was something of a feature. A wooden archway to the right led to the snug, and this had a number of framed theatre flyers on the walls, as well as a large black and white photo montage of Irish writers next to the Giant’s Causeway.

The solitary beer on tap was Wadworth’s Bishops Finger, whilst the only cider was MacIvors, which was a new one on me. Overall, not a bad pub, but whilst it certainly had a lively atmosphere, I’m not sure it’s anywhere I’d make a point of rushing back to.

On 22nd October 2019 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1749 recommendations about 1684 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Pub SignMan left this review about John Hewitt

This is a simple L-shaped pub that I would have called out for being a clichéd faux-Irish pub were it not for the fact that it’s located in the heart of Belfast city centre. The main bar is a bare boarded room with some patterned floor tiles around the servery and a raised seating area in the front left corner. An L-shaped, dark wood bar counter can be found to the right, with a granite bar top and grand bar back with nice mirrors, a whisky box collection and an integral clock. The entrance has a nice stained glass door within a compact porch and gives way to the room’s main seating area, which sees tables and chairs, plus a few benches through the centre and left side of the room. A fireplace with a large plain mirror above it, onto which someone has drawn an advertisement for Yardsman beers, breaks up the left hand wall, which is half panelled with bright uppers and decorated with various photos of graffiti-style art. The front windows have black-out blinds, which were drawn and displayed the pub’s name on them, as well as some more hand drawn beer adverts. The raised front seating area was being used by a traditional Irish band, who were playing the usual standards. Meanwhile, to the right of the entrance, a nice arched doorway takes you through to a side room where a few more seats are available. There is a blue plaque next to this doorway for the poet John Hewitt, after whom the pub is named.
There is only one hand pump here and rather disappointingly, it was dispensing Shepherd Neame Spitfire, so I looked instead to their fairly impressive craft keg selection, which totalled eight taps in all and included beers from Yardsamn, McMullan’s, Wicklow Wolf and Sullivan’s among others. I tried a pint of the Galway Bay Buried At Sea Milk Stout, which after warming up a little, was a lovely drop and much better than that other stout you see a lot round these parts.
I was quite looking forward to visiting this place but have to say that I left feeling a little underwhelmed. The place felt like a by-the-numbers pub with very little making it stand out from the crown other than, perhaps, the craft keg range. The service was friendly and the music was quite pleasant to listen to for a while, but this wasn’t the destination pub I’d hoped for and I’d probably skip this one the next time I’m in the city.

On 25th January 2019 - rating: 6
[User has posted 2545 recommendations about 2545 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about John Hewitt

Splendid Cathedral Quarter pub, with traditional furniture around the 'L'-shaped bar and small side room. Plenty of local interest in the decor, with the dark wood and paintwork enlivened by modern art on the main walls and displays about the eponymous writer and controversial politician David Ervine. About 50% of the tables were set aside for dining when I visited mid-afternoon, but there was still some seating free for those just having a drink. Two real ales on the impressive bar counter, offering two Hilden beers: Twisted Hop and Poetic Justice (£3.60). Whitewater Hoppelhammer IPA also on tap, and a decent selection of local bottles beers and ciders is also available. One for the 'must visit' list.

On 27th July 2013 - rating: 8
[User has posted 6199 recommendations about 6199 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

ROB Camra left this review about John Hewitt

Fine little pub very close to the Cathedral. At lunchtime every table is set up for dining and they ask you to queue at the door to be seated. Even so there's a few stools round the bar for the drinkers. In the evenings it's rather more lively with music played on the small stage most nights. Standard range of Irish kegs on the bar and 2 handpumps. Sadly these always serve beer from Hilden brewery which is pretty crap. Luckily they had College Green Headless Dog (also brewed by Hilden) on when we called in for the first time which was very good. Sadly when we called in later in the week they were back to Hildens own beers, I tried a Barneys Brew, it was crap although there was nothing wrong with the way it was kept. A good pub sadly spoiled by serving beer from a crap brewery.

On 15th May 2011 - rating: 6
[User has posted 2870 recommendations about 2789 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Old Boots left this review about John Hewitt

A great music pub with a good range of eclectic european draught beers, Bitburger, Erdinger, Hoegaarden, and Grolsch plus a couple of very well kept ales usually from Hilden. A few more mainstream kegs from Carlsberg, Harp, Guinness and Caffreys, there are also a few interesting bottles in the well stocked fridge. Traditional victorian styled interior with dark wood, tiles, bareboards, a splendid marble topped bar counter with a proper brass foot rail. Art work from local artists and a range of pump clips complete the picture. Obviously it gets very busy when there's live music, that's six nights a week – the best pub I visited in Belfast.

On 9th November 2009 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2299 recommendations about 2130 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Clive Thompson left this review about John Hewitt

An unremarkable exterior but I highly recommend a visit. During the day it's a place that prompts quiet contemplation and I wrote about a dozen pub reviews here over a couple of pints. Check out the small room to the right and have a look at the literary displays, some by the eponymous Belfast poet. There was an art exhibition on when I was there and they also have music and poetry readings. I heard it is owned and staffed by the Belfast Unemployment Office next door, not sure how true that is but it would certainly fit with Hewitt's socialist ideals.

It's also one of the few pubs in Belfast where I found real ale. There were two pumps, one with Hilden Ale and the other a nice Plain Stout from Dublin's Maguire brewery. They also have an impressive bottled range and I spotted Sierra Nevada, St. Peters, Innis & Gunn and Fransiskaner. If I had to choose just one Belfast bar to spend an afternoon in it would be this one.

On 1st June 2008 - rating: 9
[User has posted 742 recommendations about 678 pubs]