Hope you've all had a lovely weekend so far..?
To finish it off (just right) we thought we'd post an old fave on the @clobbercalm site as tonight marks the fourth edition of a post on craft beer. Shane aka @beerindigo has posted some gold so far on the subject of craft beer including a beginner's guide, a detailed history and tonight he adds to that...
...as Shane recently made a little trip across the pond to Ireland to sample everything they had to offer; from a jar of Guinness to their craft options with a few whiskeys along the way. Enjoy!
I recently had the pleasure of vacationing in Ireland for 10 days. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. I went to many of the touristy sites (The Cliffs of Moher and several castles and stone circles) but also did some small town visits in the countryside researching some family tree information. I knew I would be amazed by the views the country had to offer but I wasn’t sure what to expect from the beverage side of things during the trip.
I flew out of Newark, New Jersey and was excited to find a pub in the airport called the “Belgian Beer Café”. I enjoyed a couple Saison Duponts and some Kriek Boon while shaking off the preflight worries. This was an amazing way to start a vacation, especially for one who loves Belgian beer and hates to fly.
Shortly after arriving in Dublin I made my way through the Guinness tour, like all good tourists do. I was very disappointed with this experience. It was extremely commercialized and didn’t have any old world charm that I had expected to be represented with such a renowned brand. While the top floor provided an amazing view of Dublin, that was the only highlight for me. It was crowded up there though and uncomfortably warm from bodies and the glass surround. There was very little seating available and those few seats where packed full. I did have a pint, which I expected to be much different from the Guinness available in the states, but it wasn’t memorable. The lack of enjoyment may have been due to the uncomfortable surroundings. I took a pass on becoming a certified pourer as it was very generic and felt unauthentic. I later tried several pints at several different pubs throughout the country and all the Guinness was very enjoyable.
I toured the Jameson Distillery, which I thought was a really great time. You tour their old facility with much of its original character preserved, unlike the Guinness tour. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable. They have a great gift shop and a beautiful property to tour and learn about Irish whiskey. You can fill your own bottle and hand sign the label or buy a bottle available only at the distillery with your name printed on the label. I went with the latter option, will make for a great keepsake. I must admit, I never really gave Irish whiskey a chance before this trip. After tasting many different makers I found a couple that I truly enjoyed. One is “Writers Tears”, very affordable and very tasty so I brought a bottle home with me.
I was only able to tolerate the pub scene for a couple days before I found myself craving something more. There is only so much stout, red ale and lager I can handle. I began searching online and was having a difficult time finding some true craft beer selection near any of the areas I was visiting. I popped into several store fronts and pubs along the trip. Most had the same mass produced tap choices as everybody else. I did find a local craft beer available from time to time but I got the impression that the craft beer scene in the country was about 10 years behind what I am used to in the US. A friend of mine who lived in Ireland for a short time suggested a place to try and to my surprise they had several great craft beers to choose from, most exported from the US.
On the last day of my trip, back in Dublin where I began, I was searching for a nice place to eat dinner. I couldn’t find anything that sounded appealing. Traveling with three vegetarians didn’t make locating places to eat very easy on the trip, however most restaurants had at least one vegetarian dish on the menu. I finally gave up searching and just headed to a small dimly lit place right near the hotel. The candelabras coved in red wax caught my attention so we went in to check the menu. To my surprise it had a great atmosphere, a great menu and a wonderful craft beer selection. Ended up having one of the best dinners of the whole trip in a place most tourists likely don’t even notice.
I fell in love with Ireland and if money wasn’t a concern I would consider living there.
You can check out my IG account if you would like to see some more pictures of the trip and some of the beverages I found.
~ Shane 31-5-18