Monday, April 14, 2014

A Visit to the Suburbs

It is always good to get out of the city center and away from the tourists and that goes for Dublin as well as it does for London or Bamberg.

I have a friend who lives south of Dublin and we agree to meet at the Dark Horse pub in Blackrock, which is on the coast.

This is another pub of the Galway Bay Brewery group (owners of the Black Sheep, Brew Dock, etc). This pub was a little different -- it had big screen TV's and sold Guinness and Heineken in addition to the Galway Bay beers and decent selection of craft beers.

I hadn't had the Full Sale IPA this trip, so I started with that while I waited.

There is a large main room and a smaller, cozier side room off to the right. There also is a small bottle shop ("Off License") attached.

Brew Dog and Sierra Nevada seem to have good coverage here, their beers seem to be in just about every pub I visit.

They had the Of Foam and Fury Double IPA on draft. I had had it on cask at Against the Grain and thought that would make a good comparison. I think I like the draft version better -- the CO2 gives it a bit more of a bite.

My friend Dave wanted to show me a pub in his town, Dalkey so we headed down to the DART station. This is the Dublin commuter rail line that basically runs along the coast. According to his trusty DART app we had some time so we ducked into a pub along the way that had a sign saying "Craft Beers"

The craft beers were all bottles and the bartender brought them all out to show. We went with a Golden Ale from the West Kerry Brewery. He said he had only two bottles left. The beer was good but a little oxidized. The bartender said they were selling well enough. Maybe they'll put in a tap of one.

Well, it turned out Dave forgot to refresh his app and so as we walked up to the station we could see our train leave. Oh well, there were some nice views of the Bay.

Finally another train came and before long we were in Dalkey and at the Magpie Inn.

It had a fairly modern interior and about a dozen decent beers on tap and a good bottle selection as well.  I started off with an 8 Degrees Howling Pale Ale.

They had the Metalman Yerba, a collaboration beer brewed with the Hard Knott brewery in Cumbria, England. It is made with yerba maté tea.

I quite liked about the first half of it, but the second half was hard for me to finish -- the tea flavor built up and for me overpowered everything else. If you like yerba maté then this might be a good thing.

Then I broke a rule. I try and drink only local (or "local-ish") beers but I was sitting directly in from of their Schlenkerla tap and I could smell the wonderful smokey aroma as they pour beers for other customers. So I broke down and had one.

It was delicious.

The others were leaving to have dinner at a local Indian restaurant, but I decided to head back to town, not trusting my still delicate digestive system to some spicy food.

As penance for my Schlenkerla transgression I forced myself to drink three Oyster Stouts at the Porterhouse Temple Bar.

Tomorrow is my last day in Dublin. No plans as yet except to visit a couple of old favorites I haven't been to yet. 

A Quiet Day in Dublin

Something I ate on Friday violently disagreed with my Friday night, so Saturday ended up being a slow day.

I had never been to the Porterhouse North, so I hopped a bus and was soon there. It is just north of the Royal Canal, in what looks like was once a auto mechanics or car dealer.

Inside was very much in the style of the other Porterhouses though it was a bit more open. It looked like it was more of a nightclub than a brewery tap, though. In addition to the Porterhouse beers they served a number of mass market beers (the big G among them) and the ads around were almost all pushing some sort of cocktail or mixed drink. But the Oyster Stout was the same.

Unless you happened to be staying in the area, I would stick to the two Porterhouses in the city center.  I wouldn't rate this worth the effort unless you just wanted to see some of Dublin on the bus.

That short effort wore me out a bit, so it was back to the hotel for a rest. Finally I headed out again, to L. Mulligan Grocer on Stoneybatter.

This is one of my favorite places in Dublin and the beer selection has increased since last year. Some of that I'm sure is due to their closing of W.J. Kavanaughs -- Mulligans now has 6 or 7 hand pumps -- and there seem to be more tap handles as well.

I started with a Trouble Brewing Fuzzy Logic Wheat Beer. Very refreshing.

It is an old pub (with a dining room in the back) with a low ceiling and very cozy.

Next up was Brú Brewing Dubh Stout. The beer menu said it was on cask and tap but the cask had run out so I went with the draft. A very nice Irish Dry Stout. I wished I had gone for a full pint rather than a "glass" (half pint).

Somewhere in there I had a nice pan fried haddock filet. The food at Mulligans has always been good and sometimes a slight bit off center. My mushy peas had a health dose of mint which was interesting. Last year it was wasabi mushy peas which was probably the first time I enjoyed mushy peas.

I noticed they had a Gose bier front the Brown Paper Bag Project. This is the brand formed by the owners of Mulligans. Currently (it is my understanding) that the beers are contract brewed but the acquisition of a physical brewery is in the works. I had tasted their first beer, Dr. Rudi in the bottle last year and it was quite nice.  So I was hopeful for the Gose.

It was definitely tart but not nearly as sour as the Gose I've had in Leipzig and at 5.8% it is stronger as well. Still, it was a very drinkable and enjoyable sour wheat beer.

It was getting late so I hopped a bus back to the hotel.

If you want the latest info on the pubs mentioned here, check out

Sunday, April 13, 2014

More Drinking Beer in Dublin

First stop of the day was Against the Grain on Wexford St. This corner had been a bit of a jinx with pubs and restaurants going under on a regular basis. They seam to have broken it as they've been going strong for nearly four years now.

First beer up was  Rye Ale from a new brewery, N17. This is one I hadn't come across before so it was a surprise. The beer was very good, with just a hit of spiciness from the rye. I look forward to future beers from them.

The pub is larger inside than it appears from the outside. In the picture below there is another room off to the left plus seating upstairs.

Next up was an old favorite, the Dark Arts Porter from Trouble Brewing. As always, it didn't disappoint.

Against the Grain is owned by the Galway Bay Brewery group -- it was their first Dublin pub. They have recently released a Double IPA call of Foam and Fury. At 8.5% it is one of the stronger Irish Beers I've seen and such is served in a smaller glass. This one was on cask and was excellent.

It was time to move on, hopping a bus headed south, to a new place 57 The Headline. It is a bit off the beaten track but easily reached by bus from the city center.

The don't open until 3pm so I had a few minutes to kill...

They do have an amazing selection of beer, with quite a few I haven't had before. I started of with the Liberities Dublin Ale. The brewery opened in 2012 and it's current location is not far from 57 The Headline.

Next up was White Gypsy Ruby, their red ale. It was the second beer I've had from this brewery and I look forward to trying more.

Next up was a beer from Hilden, in Northern Ireland (so technically an import though still Irish), their Mill Street IPA. I nice hoppy aroma and good hops in the finish. The tap handle said 5% but it tasted stronger.

My final beer at 57 The Headline was brewed by Blacks Brewery. It is a double IPA brewed in honor of the Irish beer consumers group and is called Beoir #1 Wow is this a big beer. At 9% it is the strongest draft beer I've had from Ireland (I did once have a bottle of the Porterhouse Celebration Stout that was 10%).

After that, I need to move on or take a nap. There were a couple of inviting looking sofas but I figure that would be a bit rude and my snoring would disturb the other customers. So I moved on.

I probably should just have stayed. There was a major traffic accident and traffic was blocked. The bus sat for awhile and finally the driver said "you might as well walk, we aren't going anywhere."  So I did.

I ended up going by the Merchants Arch complex and they have a "Beer Hall" called Brewery Lane that I had never been to. It doesn't open until 4pm and I had never been by while they were open. They were, so I went in.

You go up a winding spiral staircase for about two stories and then you are in this huge hall with great views of the River Liffey.

They had a decent selection of craft beers (plus many industrial beers as well).

The above chalkboard was out of date because I had the Bru Brewery Lager. Probably not the best beer to have after a Double IPA but it is one I hadn't had before. I quite enjoyed it but I need to have it again when I am fresher.

 At this point I decide to call it a night and headed back to the hotel. I'll leave with a non beer picture, the lights of the River Liffey from the Ha'Penny Bridge.

Friday, April 11, 2014

First Full Day in Dublin

The "Festival" at the Porterhouse caused a change in plans. I have a beer friend in Dublin and he was interested in the festival as well so we agreed to meet at the Porterhouse around noon.

On the way there,  I passed by J.W. Sweetman, a brewpub that was formerly Messers Maguire. 

Towards the end of its life the beers were fairly bad, so I was hopeful that the new ownership would have improved things. Only way way to find out.

It turns out they have 7 beers on tap, 5 regular and 2 seasonals. I went for the full sampler...

The standard beers are a Golden Ale (they call it a Kölsch but it isn't), Weissbier, Red Ale, Porter and Pale Ale. The seasonals were an Old Ale and an Amber Ale brewed with Austrialian Galaxy hops.

All were well made and tasty. The "Kölsch" was much much better than I expected -- usually these type of brewpub beers are fairly plans. My overall favorite was the Porter but the Amber came a close second.

They have beer quotes on the wall, this one being one of my favorites.

There were a bunch attributed to Benjamin Franklin that are not from him, but I wasn't going to argue.

After my 7 tasters it was off to the Porterhouse. Dave wasn't there yet, so I had a pint of cask TSB. This is a beer they brewed initially for their London pub. At about 4% it is a great starter beer -- if you just hadn't rushed down 7 brewpub tasters.

They had quite a few beers for the festival. Glad I was going to have help.

By the time I finished the TSB, Dave arrived and we started in. First up was Mountain Man Green Bullet Ale (using a NZ hop of that name) and Trouble Brewing Deception.

I would expect a beer named Green Bullet to be a bit more aggressively hopped, but it was tasty. The Deception was also very good.

Next up was Trouble Brewing Sabotage, Metalman Chameleon Solstice and 8 Degrees Amber Ella

The Chameleon Solstice is a wheat beer brewed with ginger and was very interesting. Sabotage is Trouble Brewings IPA and was fairly hoppy (not by California standards, though). The Amber Ella is described as an American Amber Ale and that fits the bill pretty well. It was my favorite of the day, to this point.

The two Porterhouse entries were both stouts (go figure) a Chocolate Stout ant the Celebration Stout.

I am not usually a fan of chocolate in beers but this one worked. It had a huge bitter chocolate nose but the flavor was restrained (or hidden by the dark malts).  The Celebration Stout was first brewed for their 10th anniversary in 2006 and was originally 10%. This version was 7% but still good. It was the first time I'd had in on draft and one I would drink regularly if they had it regularly.

We decided to finish up with a bottle of Black's Black IPA. This is a new brewery for me and if this is any indication they will do well.

Dave wanted me to meet some of his friends who are going off to Bamberg next month, so we headed over to the Brew Dock, another Galway Bay Brewery pub.

Since I belong to Beoir, the Irish beer consumer's group, I have some tokens good for 50 cents off of Galway Bay beers. So I started off with their Stormy Port Porter. I like porters and this one is tasty.

I noticed they had Schlenkerla Weizen on tap -- that is one that I hadn't seen on tap before -- certainly not in Bamberg (though my Swedish friends promptly told me they had it at Akkurat last month) . I was tempted to try it but I am here for Irish beer so I passed. They also had Sierra Nevada Bigfoot on draft.

They had quite a good tap selection, and two hand pumps in addition.

One of the cask beers was White Gypsy Brunette, a beer I hadn't had before so I went with that.

It was good but I not sure it is the best candidate for a had pump. I would like to try a draft version of it to compare.

At this point jet lag started to kick in so I called it an early night.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Arrived in Dublin

The flight was uneventful,  just long. Of course I couldn't check into my hotel so I wandered around, drinking way too much coffee. After checking in, it was off to the Porterhouse in Temple Bar

This was the home of the original brewery, but they long since moved the brewing to the suburbs where they have much more room.

I started with the Oyster Stout, one of my favorite beers in the world..

As always it was delicious. Like Uerige in Düsseldorf and Schlenkerla in Bamberg, it has amazing restorative powers over jet lag.

They have nine of their own beers on tap (plus two on cask) and as many guest beers (one on cask). Below is half of the draft handles.

I could spend the whole afternoon drinking the Oyster Stout, but that wouldn't make for an interesting blog post, so in the interest of journalism for my next beer I had a 8 Degrees Knockmealdown Porter.

This is my favorite of their regular beers. It must be a cultural thing or something but most Irish breweries brew very nice dark beers.

It turns out the Porterhouse is about to start a Craft Beer Festival

They were just starting to put the beers on and it was tempting to stay and work my way thru them, but I decided to move on. Across the river and up Capel street is the Black Sheep, a pub of the Galway Bay Brewery.

They have four regular beers, the occasional seasonal or two plus a wide range of guest beers.

I went with what they called "Pilot 007" aka "Incognito" a Saison hopped with NZ hops. Quite a bit different from the previous porter and stout but a good and refreshing change.

Thie Black Sheep is a nice corner pub, lot of windows and very cozy.

This is most of the taps but in the second room they have three beer engines and a couple of more casks.

You can even buy shots of BrewDog Sink the Bismark or Tactical Nuclear Penguin. I think I'd rather try the Poitin  (basically Irish Moonshine).

Most of the beers I wanted to try next were too strong for the first day (7%+) so I decided to move on again.  I had heard good reports of a new place just down the street, called The Beerhouse.

It turns out I had been here once before, back in 2011 when it was called O'Byrne's Beverage House.

The Beerhouse has a much better selection. I started off with a beer from a new (for me) brewery, Bo Bristle. I had their IPA

At 5% is a little less strong than American (especially West Coast) IPAs though it was pointed out to me that IPA can also stand for "Irish Pale Ale." It was nice and hoppy though and very tasty.

They also sell a "Beer Pouch" that will hold three (Imperial) pints. It looks to be Mylar and is resizable up to 60 times. The charge €4.95 for the pouch and then you pay for the beer. Much lighter (and less fragile) than a glass growler.

Next up was 8 Degrees new beer, Amber Ella. I had read lots of good reports of this and they were all  true, a very tasty beer. Hops but malt to back it up. At 6% it a bit stronger than a typical beer here.

They have a pretty good selection of beers, most of which I'd try. I passed on the Molson's Canadian, probably to the dismay of my Canadian relatives.

Out side the "Gents" was a warning sign.  Many people I know would compete to see how many boxes they could check off.

It was time for some food, so I walked over to the recently reopened W.J. Kavanagh's.

When I was here last year, this was my favorite new place and I ranked it was one of the best in Dublin. I was very sad to hear that it closed in December. It was not that is was not doing well, but the owners -- who also own L. Mulligan Grocer's -- felt they were spreading themselves to this with two places.

Luckily, I few weeks ago it reopened with new owners. I was curious to see how it had changed.

The beer list was not quite as extensive -- not the least because the four hand pumps were relocated to L. Mulligan Grocer's -- but there were a couple of beers I had not tried before. I started with the Kennegar Brewing Scraggy Bay IPA. I was told they had an American brewer and the beer certain had an American style aggressive hopping. A good choice.

The food menu was not quite as experimental as the previous owners (no Wasabi Mushy Peas or Black Pudding WonTons). I had a couple of appetizers: a smoked salmon plate and an Irish cheese plate. Both were very tasty and I look forward to trying a main course.

The new WJK is not up to the very high standard of the previous version, but it is a nice pub and I can recommend it to anybody visiting Dublin. The new owners are making a good effort and I expect it will improve in time (It has only been open three weeks).

Well, the jet lag caught up to me so I decided to call it a night and went back to my hotel.