Sunday, February 24, 2013

Back in Dublin, Drinking Beer Again...

I dropped my bags off at my hotel and headed for the nearby Brew Dock.

The Brew Dock

This is one of three pubs owned by the same group that owns the Olso and Salt House (and a couple of others) in Galway. They didn't have the Full Sail IPA on, so I went with the Stormy Port porter. Nothing new to report, tastes the same a last time -- which is a good thing.

Galway Bay Brewing Stormy Port Porter

My goal was to head over to the Porterhouse for a few pints of Oyster. On the way I passed Farrington's -- one of the pubs with a "Irish Craft Beers" sign in the window, so I stopped in.

Farrington's in Temple Bar
It turns out they have six Irish Craft beers on draft. I went with a Metalman Pale Ale. 

Metalman Pale Ale
This is a tasty beer, but it it is superb on cask.  The other draft beers I had also had before, so went to a bottle, the 8 Degrees Sunburnt Red.

8 Degress Sunburnt Red
It was enjoyable, but I guess I'm not a big fan of the style -- I want either more hops or more roasty maltiness.

I asked Barry, the barman for a suggestion and he suggested the Dr Rudi's Single Hop Belgian Ale.

Dr Rudi's Single Hop Belgian Ale
This is produced by the "Brown Paper Bag Project" which is not a brewery but a marketing company (i.e. a contract brewer) The beer is brewed by 8 Degrees (for now). It was definitely made with a Belgian yeast. It was fine but lacked the complexity you find in a lot of Belgian brewed Belgian style beers. I find that is the case with most (but not all!) small American breweries as well.

Well, that was three beers I wasn't counting on -- but thoroughly enjoyed -- so I continued on the Porterhouse. They have a cask ale TSB -- produced with New Zealand Sticklebract hops, long before they became trendy. I decided to try one before my Oyster Stouts.

Porterhouse TSB
It was tasty but nothing all that exciting. Not to sound like a broken record, but the Metalman Pale on cask I liked better.

Then it was time for an Oyster Stout. And another...

Porterhouse Oyster Stout
Yum. For a break, I had another of their nice Czech style Dark Lager, Bohemia.

Porterhouse Bohemia Dark Lager

It just made me take a note "Self, get back to Prague one of these days."

They had their second hand pump working, with a beer from Thornbridge in the UK, their Halcyon Imperial Pale Ale. I really like the Thornbridge beers, so I broke the rule again.

Thornbridge Halcyon Imperial IPA

Lovely, lovely, lovel. This would stand up well with a US Double IPA. Without the additional CO2 the hops really come thru.

In talking with a local, he mentioned the Black Sheep (the other new pub in the Galway chain) had quite a few cask beers. It sort of was on the way to the hotel -- not really but close enough.

The Black Sheep
They did have some cask beers, but I forgot to write them down. They didn't really grab my attention so they must be things I've had before. They did have one draft beer I hadn't had, the Metalman Garnet.

Metalman Garnet

This is one of their seasonal beers. It was a red ale and well made but it was too late in the evening to give it a fair rating. I definitely will have it again next time I am in town.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Another Day in Galway

I am old enough to (barely) remember JFK's visit to Ireland. They have a marker were he became a Freeman of Galway Borough.

Enough history, time for beer. I took the local bus to the nearby village of Salt Hill, where you have a good view of Galway Bay.

Galwsy  Bay
And also a good view of the Oslo Bar, home of the Galway Bay Brewery.

Olso Bar and microbrewery

They have pretty similar beer selection to the Salt House (as would be expected). I started off with the Bay Ale, an Irish Red Ale.

Galway Bay Brewery Bale Ale
It was well made and tasty, just a hint of roast malt (which gives the red color) and mildly hopped.

It was lunch time, so I ordered a bowl of their Atlantic Chowder. The fish comes from local fishmongers and it was delicious.

Oslo Bar Atlantic Chowder

Next I had the Full Sail IPA. Paul at the Salt House had told me the night before that a new batch was going on today.

Galway Bay Brewery Full Sail IPA
It was clearly unfiltered -- which I usually don't mind (and in some beers prefer) but I think this would have benefited from some more time to settle. There was a bit of yeastiness in the flavor but all around it was enjoyable beer. The hopping was closer to an English style IPA than the aggressively hopped American version.

I new I was going to visit the Salt House again that evening, so passed on the other beers and caught the bus back to Galway. I played tourist for the rest of the afternoon.

Galway City Old Town
Soon enough it was beer-thirty. I headed first to the Bierhaus to check them out more closely. There were a couple of English porters in bottles that look interesting but while rules are made to be broken, I didn't want to break this one so early. So I had a Trouble Brewing Dark Arts Porter.

Trouble Brewing Dark Arts Porter
It was its usual excellent self, though every time I have the draft version it just reminds me of the wonderful cask version I had years ago at L. Mulligan Grocer.

I wandered down the street to the Salt House where Paul immediately poured me a Full Sail IPA.

Galway Bay Brewery Full Sail IPA
This one was much clearer and much crisper than the one earlier in the day at the Oslo. It was much more enjoyable.

There was one Galway Bay Brewery beer I hadn't yet tasted -- the Buried at Sea Chocolate Milk Stout.

Galway Bay Brewery Buried at Sea Chocolate Milk Stout
Lactose (Milk sugar) is not normally fermentable by beer yeast, so it is often used if the brewer wants a sweeter beer. The combination of cocoa and lactose really worked in this case. The chocolate was very noticeable but not overpowering and the result was a rich tasting beer but one that was not overly sweet. One is enough, though.

It was tempting to dive in to their excellent selection of New Zealand or Italian beers, but I decided to stick to Irish and ordered a bottle of 8 Degrees Knockmealdown Porter.

8 Degrees Knockmealdown Porter

It was, as we say, a "happy beer" -- a little over carbonated and foamed up in the glass no matter how gently one poured. Sometimes that can be a sign of a wild yeast infection in the bottle, but luckily that was not the case here. The beer had a nice chocolate malt flavor. I should point out that I mean the flavor a malt called "chocolate malt" (mainly from its color). While it does have a faint chocolately taste, it is not at all like adding cocoa to the beer.

I was heading back to Dublin in the morning and didn't want to make too late a night of it. Plus, I needed some food so I headed back to the fish shop I'd visited the night before (McDonaghs)

I started off with a half dozen oysters...

McDonaghs Fresh Oysters
... followed up by Haggis and Chips. Yes, Haggis and Chips. It was recommended to by multiple locals, so I had to try it...

McDonagh's Haggis and Chips
I am not a Haggis expert by any means, but this was very tasty. The batter really added to the flavor.

I was tempted by a couple of places selling "Hot Whiskey" as it was quite cold that evening, but I resisted.

Tomorrow bak to Dublin.

Friday, February 22, 2013


When I arrived in Galway and walked out of the train station i was hit by a cold wind, off the North Atlantic.  When I left LA I was trying to decide between a heavier or light jacket. I am glad I went with the heavier.

After checking in to the hotel I wondered around the town. There were a couple of places on my list that were in the center but their beer lists were not interesting. Eventually I ended up on Ravens Walk in front of the Salt House.

This is part of a small chain. I had visited their first Dublin pub, Against the Grain, a couple of times. They also have a brewpub in nearby Salt Hill (the Oslo Bar) and the beers I had in Dublin were well made but not too interesting. So I wasn't sure what to expect.

They had an impressive set of taps, with three American craft brews (Anderson Valley Imperial IPA, Sierra Nevada Draught Ale and Celebration), five of their own Galway Bay Brewery beers and a few other Irish Craft Beers.

I started with the Hooker Brewing Galway Hooker, which is not brewed in Galway city but in Roscommon which is not too far away. So I started with that. It was a good first beer of the day.

Hooker Brewing Galway Hooker
 Paul, the bartender, had given me samples of the Galway Bay beers and I decided to start with the Strange Brew -- the name they give to their occasional beers -- this one being a brown ale. It was the last keg they had so I might not have another chance.

Galway Bay Brewing Strange Brew (Brown Ale)

The glass actually says something like "We feel Awful that some people have to drink bland tasteless beer so we decide to cut the crap and brew our own..." The brown ale was nice. I tbink it would be a good addition to their lineup.

I followed up with their porter, which was had a nice chocolate malt flavor and some hop bitterness in the finish.

Galway Bay Brewing Stormy Port Porter
 I decided  to stick to porters and saved the Galway Bay Milk Chocolate Stout (made with chocolate and  lactose) for another time. So I had the Porterhouse Plain Porter.

Porterhouse Plain Porter 
I like the Porterhouse Oyster Stout so much I sometimes ignore the Plain Porter when I am at a Porterhouse pub.  It was in good condition and very tasty. It was one of two beers they served with a nitro mix -- you can guess the other...

My seatmate at the bar had ordered a porter from Denmark and let me have a taste. It was so good I had to order one for myself and again break my rule of only Irish beers from Irish Breweries. It comes from the To Øl in Copenhagen but like so many famous "Danish" beers it is really brewed at De Proefbrouwerij in Belgium. But it still was very nice and at 8% a bit stronger than I had been drinking.

To Øl Black Ball Porter (Danish)
 Since I was off the reservation, so to speak, I went all the way off and had a beer from New Zealand, the Hopwired IPA from 8 Wired Brewing in Blenheim, NZ. Made, of course, with NZ hops.

8 Wired Brewing Hop Wired IPA (NZ)
It was fantastic. They had a number of NZ beers and it was tempting to work my way thru them, but both my liver and wallet would have objected, so I decided to move on.

I walked up the street a bit to the Bierhuis, another pub that was recommended to me.

Bierhaus Galway

The beer selection was a bit more international (lots of ImBev beers on tap), not as many Irish beers but they did one the Trouble Brewing Sabotage IPA on cask, so  I had one.

Trouble Brewing Sabotage IPA on Cask

I think the Hopwired IPA blew out my taste buds because this wasn't too hoppy. I need to give it another try when I am fresher. 

I noticed down in the bottom of the cooler that there was a Stella Artois Cider. Who knew? Didn't feel the urge to try one so if  you want to know how it tastes, talk to somebody else.

Something I did not know existed
On the way back to the hotel I stopped at a Fish and Chips shop and got some dinner. Salmon was 25 Euro cents more than cod, so I had salmon and chips. Very good.

Salmon and Chips

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Walking Around Dublin, Drinking Beer (Day 2)

It sunny in Dublin and raining in Los Angeles.  I'm sure there is something profound in there somewhere. After a beer or three maybe I can figure it out.

Dublin doesn't seem to go in much for early drinking. It's after a 11am but the first couple of places I checked out weren't yet open.

M.J. O'Neill's on Suffolk St was. It turns out they open even earlier than I remembered -- 8am. Self, make a note of that.

I started off with an O'Hara's Pale Ale. When I was last in Dublin the O'Hara's beers were a bit off -- high levels of diaceytl  (which can give the taste of butter).  I am happy to say the problem has been fixed and this was a nice start to the day.

O'hara's Pale Ale
For a follow up I went with the Trouble Brewing Dark Arts Porter. This is one of my favorite Irish beers. It is even better on cask but still quite good when CO2 dispensed.

Trouble Dark Arts Porter

I had a bunch of places I wanted to check out, so decided to move on. As it turns out, the next place was not yet open but the second one, The Palace Bar, was. I had never been here before but had read some reviews that were promising.

It is an old pub (founded in 1823, of which they remind you constantly). Right up front was a hand pump with a Dungarvan Helvick Gold pump click. OK, worth a stop.

Dungarvan Helvick Gold on cask
Sadly, I think the cask was a bit past its prime. That is the down side of cask beer and it can be a problem for pubs that don't sell a lot of it. It was drinkable, though, so I drank it.

The had a "fake" hand pump with a clip for O'Hara's Leann Folláin, their 6% Extra Stout. I have had this in bottles but not on draft. After checking that it was truly on tap, I ordered one.

O'Hara's Leann Folláin

Now this is a very nice beer. Rich and Roasty and it actually tasted stronger than 6% but that may just be all the sub 5% beers I've been drinking. They also had O'Hara Coffee Stout -- a beer I've not tasted before -- but I thought I'd save that for another visit.

The next stop was the Bull & Castle. When I was last here they styled themselves as a "gastro-pub" and were really pushing the food. I came in once at 4pm and they wouldn't let me just order a beer, I had to order food if I wanted to sit a table. They are now part of a steakhouse chain so I didn't know what to expect.

The range was not bad, but I have run into the problem with Irish Craft Beer -- there are more places to drink than there are beers to be served. That is, almost all the interesting beers I had already had in the past two days. I went with one I hadn't had before Carrig Lager,

Carrig Lager
It was fine, nothing special but not bad. Would probably have better as the first beer of the day. I had a really good bowl of Potato and Leek Soup, though.

It was close to 4pm so I decided to walk over to L. Mulligan Grocer. On the way I saw this sign which made me laugh...

I also passed a store that looked interesting...

but they turned out to sell supplies to commercial bakers. Darn.

Soon I was at L. Mulligan Grocer on Stoneybatter.

Again, a very nice selection of beers (and a great bottle list) but I had had most of them. One I hadn't was 8 Degrees Barefoot Bohemian.

8 Degrees Barefoot Bohemian
It was well made but nothing special. Or maybe the jet lag was kicking in. Well, the jet lag was kicking in so I decided to head back towards the hotel and check a few of the places that had been closed, but I was captured by the hotel and called it a night.

Tomorrow I'm off to Galway, more for touristy reasons than for beer, but they do have a brewery there.

First Day In Dublin

Flight was early, airport bus ran on time and good directions found me at my hotel before 8am. Of course the room wasn't ready but they did let me leave my bag.

So I had nearly four hours to kill before my first beer. Plus I had to stay awake. So you get this nice picture of the River Liffey

I walking around I did see a promising sign...

The pubs where I saw it mostly had bottles, but I take it as a good sign that Craft Beer in Ireland really is on the upswing.

After wandering around, drinking a few cup of coffee and just killing time, I arrived at the Porterhouse on Parliament St just as they opened.

Porterhouse Temple Bar
They often have a couple of guest cask beers, but today it was their own TSB and Old Hooky from Hook Norton -- which while a nice beer, is from the UK, not Ireland -- so I started with one of my favorite beers in the world: The Porterhouse Oyster Stout.

Porterhouse Oyster Stout
It was its usual wonderful self. I actually would be happy to sit and drink this beer until I fell asleep (being jetlagged, that would be in about 2 hours) but i noticed they had a beer I had read about but not had. The Metalman Brewing (from Waterford) Pale Ale.

Metalman Brewing Pale Ale
This is billed as an American Style Pale Ale and the grapefruit notes that are often found with American hops says they hit their mark. A very nice, drinkable beer. They have been brewing for not quite a year and I hope get a chance to try some of their other beers.

I notice the Porterhouse was serving a special beer -- Bohemia, a dark Czech style lager. Ken, the barman said it was a collaboration with a Czech brewer and used the Pilsner Urquell yeast but that was all he knew.

Porterhouse Bohemia

Ooooh, was this a nice beer.  I find many dark Czech lagers to be a bit too sweet but this one had a nice dry finish and would be right at home in Prague. Another one would be nice but another one and I would be asleep at my table, so I headed over to my hotel to see if I could check in.

After a short nap (which I usually try to avoid my first day) I decided I need to get moving or I would sleep away one of my few days.

On my previous trips to Dublin one of my favorite places was L.Mulligans Grocer. I had heard they opened a sister pub, W.J. Kavanagh's on Dorset street, so I decided to pay it a visit.

They have five beer engines but tonight only had two casks to serve. A stout from Darby (England) and the Metalman Pale Ale. A tough decision -- I am here for Irish beer but the cask was one I had earlier that day. I went with the Metalman and was not disappointed.

Metalman Pale Ale on cask
The cask version was much softer and the hops much more subdued but this still was very nice. It would be tough to choose between the two -- really two different beers.

While enjoying the Metalman I noticed and old friend up in the corner of their bottle display...

An old friend (on the right)

They had a number of Golden/Pale Ales so I decided to work thru a few. I started with the Trouble Brewing Ór.

Trouble Brewing Ór
This is not a hop dominated beer -- A nice biscuity note with just enough hops in the finish to make you want another sip.

Moving to the next tap, I ordered an Eight Degrees Howling Gale Ale.

Eight Degrees Howling Gale Ale

After the subtle hops of the Ór the more aggressive hops here were a wake up call. Yum.

I had hoped to get in a few more beers, but jet lag was kicking in so it was time to choose the last beer. I really wanted the Eight Degrees Knockmealdown Porter but some of the other patrons had had the cask stout from Derby and since that might not be there when I come back, I decided to break a rule and have a non Irish beer.

The beer was the Iron Gate Stout from the Black Iris brewery in Derby. I didn't recognize the name but a little googling showed it was at the Flower Pot Pub in Derby -- which I had visited and like on my trip there many years ago.

Black Iris Iron Gate Stout
A nice finish to the evening -- a strong roasted barley flavor with a nice hoppy (but not too hoppy -- it is an English beer) finish.  Rules are made to be broken and breaking this one was well worth it.