Ah Ireland...Eleven long years after boarding a ferry from Wales, the time was ripe again for Irish beer. Guinness on tap in Ireland, particularly Dublin, tastes like nowhere else in the world. Its lesser cousins, Murphy's and Beamish are still pleasant, with the latter being my favourite (and cost effective). Harp lager is well-known and Smithwick's ale is very popular, however, my old companion Caffrey's was nowhere to be seen (probably because it's from the north).
We stumbled into a pub called The Porterhouse while in Dublin. It turns out they are all over the capital and they brew their own beer. And what a range they have! I won't even begin to list them here, but I tried the Plain Porter (4.3%) and the Brainblasta (7.0%). The former is smooth and bitter, while the Brainblasta is a deep red ale that packs a delicious punch. And they were both outstanding.
Our mate, Robin, who writes a lot of wind... recommended The Bull and Castle, so we gladly went there with Peter and Dalene of Hecktic Travels. He also suggested I should try a brown ale called Clotworthy Dobbin. I must also receommend this beer, because it was very good. Later on in Cork, we visited Bierhaus where Andrea tried both the Belfast Ale and Lager from Whitewater Brewery, the same makers of the Clotworthy Dobbin.
Cork was also home to a micro-brewery called the Franciscan Well. After trying their Friar Weisse wheat beer, their latest drop 'Croaking Lizard' was a brown ale with a difference. The tasting notes said it was strong on hops and malt, and how right they were! One of the most unique beers I've ever tried at 5.0%. Another beer worth trying is the Dark Arts Porter made by Trouble Brewing.
We wanted to visit O'Hara's Brewery in Carlow after leaving Kilkenny on a Sunday, but they were closed. Andrea had previously tried the red ale and their stout is meant to be pretty good. It was fantastic to see so many boutique brews in Ireland, because as good as Guinness is, the tap variety in most pubs was less than impressive. Every, and I mean every, pub we went into had Coors Light and Budweiser taking up precious tap space. Heineken and Carlsberg were also heavily featured, but this I'll allow. We also noticed Budweiser ads on television, in the paper and even on billboards in the middle of the country. The premise is if it's a hot day somewhere, you pay less for a 'Bud'.
What the fuck? This is Ireland. It doesn't get hot!
While driving around Dublin looking for our hotel on the last day, I noticed other micro-breweries around the place. So they are everywhere and you just need to be pointed in the right direction. Then the senses can be unleashed to revel in them, but not for a moment, forgetting that Guinness is a supreme beer that makes you strong, turtles included.
What's your favourite Irish beer?