Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Last Day in Dublin

I finally headed out to check out the new BrewDog Dublin Outpost in the Grand Canal Docks area. I ended up tacking a taxi as there is really no convenient bus route. I used the FreeNow app (formerly called MyTaxi — a much better name) which made the whole thing as easy as using Lyft or Uber. From the door of BrewDog you can look across the Liffey to the 3 Arena — you just can’t get there. Supposedly a foot bridge is planned, which will make it a bit easier to get to BrewDog.

BrewDog has its own building right on the waterfront. They spent a Euro or two on this setup.  The place is huge, with bars on two levels and a large patio for when the weather is nicer.

The brewery is operational (first batch in the tanks) but they don’t yet have permission to sell, some confusion on the paperwork.

They had seven guest beers but only two were Irish and one I’d had before (Of Form and Fury) and the other was 10% so ordered a BrewDog beer.

I went with a Jet Black Heart Stout, figuring it was at least an Irish style stout. It was nicely roasty.

The food going by looked good (and I had many recommendations to try the wings) but nothing was hitting the spot so I ordered another beer, this the Brew Gooder Lager. It was well made but a bit boring. Probably should have expected that, but I wanted to try it.

The brewery is at the back. Some tank porn for your enjoyment...

I wanted to make another stop at the Porterhouse so I  fired up the FreeNow app and was soon there.

I ordered an Oyster Stout and a plate of oysters to go with it, but was informed they had no oysters today. They suggested the mussels but that just didn’t seem right.

I ordered the Seafood Chowder instead, which had a couple of oysters in it (though cooked).

I had another Oyster Stout, but I won’t bore you with the picture. I headed out to my next stop and got a nice picture of the River Liffey

I as was walking, I passed Sin È. You can see the Sierra Nevada sign — they had three Sierra Nevada beers on tap, so I guess it is a favorite.

They had a house Pale Ale, brewed by Trouble Brewing, so I ordered that, as it would be rude not to have. A nice beer, well worth the stop.

Just about around the corner is The Legal Eagle, my destination.

It is primarily a restaurant but there is a bar and you can just go have a beer (or a coffee for that matter). They have upped their tap list since I was there a two years ago. Something for everybody.

I ordered the Whiplash Bowsie Brown Ale. This was one of the beers that was out at the Brickyard the other day, so I was glad to have a change to try it. A nice beer.

I was still a bit hungry, so I ordered a Scotch Egg and their Ploughmans.  Lots of fruits and vegetables, of which I have not been eating as I should. BTW, that is not my finger, the cheeses were being explained to me as I took the picture.

One last beer, probably my last in Dublin this trip. It was a tough decision but I went with the Kinnegar Scraggy Bay IPA over the Trouble Dark Arts Porter as I hadn’t had that one this trip. It didn’t disappoint. It is a little less red in real life.

It was then back to my hotel to pack and get ready for my early morning bus to the airport. All in all a successful trip. Didn’t get to all the places I wanted to but visited most of them.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

A Quiet Day in Dublin

I am still fighting off the recurrence of my bad cold, so Monday ended up being fairly quiet.

I hopped on the LUAS Green Line heading south to Balally the home of the Brickyard Gastropub. The pub is in a complex right at the station and the trams literally run underneath it.

They have 24 taps, four of which are industrial beers, leaving 20 interesting beers for the rest of us. One side effect of visiting a pub soon after they open on a Monday is they still could be recovering from a good weekend. This happened here. The first beer I ordered, the Two Sides Red Brick Ale kicked while trying to pour it. A number of other taps where dry (many were ones I’d like to try, showing my tastes and locals coincide somewhat). I decided to go with the other Two Sides Beer, the Brickline Lager. Brickyard is part of the Two Side consortium, hence the “Brick” in some beer names.

The beer was fine, well made and tasty but nothing earth shattering. A good first beer.

Lunch was a sandwich and a bowl of soup. The soup was sweet potato/carrot/coconut which didn’t sound all the appealing but it worked. There were some Thai spices in there that gave it a bit of kick.

Next I tried the Yellow Belly Molecules of Freedom Brown Ale. A very nice American style brown though at 7% a bit stronger than usual.

I had intended to stop at a number of other places on the way back to the city center, but I was feeling a bit off so I just went back to my hotel room and rested for a while.

Eventually I headed back out again, to T. O’Brennan’s, an old pub that re-opened as a craft beer pub a few years ago. Originally they were tied to 57 The Headline but I am not sure if that relationship is still in effect. The LUAS track go right past them but there are between two stops. Going there I get off at Broadstone and walk downhill to the pub. Going home, I continue walking downhill to Dominick. Lazy, I am.

They have 12 taps, all Irish craft beers.

I ordered their House Pale Ale, which is brewed by Third Barrel Brewing (who also brews the Two Sides beers and a bunch of others). Third Barrel was formed when Third Circle and Stone Barrel combined their ventures. The beer was very nice, well balanced between malt and hops.

I had hoped to get a bite to eat — previously they had toasted sandwiches and cheese and meat boards but those were on hold for the moment, so I had to make do with a bag of chips (“crisps”).

Next I tried the White Gypsy Ruby, Irish Red Ale. It was a nice beer but I think I like the house beer more.

One thing about T. O’Brennan’s is the lighting they have over the bar — it makes my photos look a lot better than usual, In fact, some of my favorite beer photos have been shot here.

I could have had another beer but I was getting hungry so I passed and headed back towards my hotel. When I got off the tram there was a Vietnamese restaurant right there so I went in and had a bowl of chicken soup. Always good for what ails you.

Tomorrow is my last day in Dublin. I will probably bite the bullet and head out to the new BrewDog places then fill in a couple of places I’ve missed so far.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Dublin Day 4

The day got off to a bit of a false start. I had intended to take a bus down to Dùn Laoghaire to check out a fairly new place, The Beer Keeper. Their website says they open at 1pm on weekends. But when using Google Maps the listed opening time was 4pm. I checked their Facebook page and it also said 4pm. So I sent a message thru Facebook and sure enough, the website was out of date. So scratch that.

I had additional issues with bus routing with Google Maps today and I think I figure out at least part of the problem. Somebody said that Dublin Bus recently rolled out a bunch of route and schedule changes. I think what happened on some of these when calculating a bus route they forgot they drive on the left in Ireland. I noticed two times that the stop at which Google wanted me to exit was actually a stop on the bus line in the opposite direction. That is, it is on the side of the street the bus would have stopped in right hand drive country. In most cases that problem wouldn’t matter as usually opposing stops have the same name. But sometimes they are offset a bit and have different cross streets and different names. And with one way streets in the older parts of town the routing of buses in different directions is completely different. Now I may just be blowing smoke as most of the time things work fine.

Anyway, I decided to head to 57 The Headline instead. This is one of my favorite places in Dublin — good beer selection and good food,

They have eight or nine fixed taps and dozen rotating ones. They rotating ones are listed on a video board.

I started off the with O’Brother Brewing Bringer of Light Session IPA. A good start to the day.

It was really past time for lunch so I ordered the Fish & Chips. Was told the fish were still swimming the day before.

I followed that up with another Session IPA, this one called Graffiti from Trouble Brewing. A quite different flavor profile than the first but still good.

Always like to see a familiar face when traveling...

A couple people on twitter said to be sure and try the Two Sides Brewing Shop Local Double Dry Hopped IPA. Two Sides is a joint venture between 57 The Headline and The Brickyard Pub. I forgot to ask where the beers are actually brewed, but it was really good. Bursting with hop character.

It was time to move on so I thought I’d head to another favorite that I had yet to visit, The Underdog Pub. At one of the stops along the way, a prospective passenger asked the driver “Do you go to such-and-such?” The driver laughed and said “No, whoever told you that?” “Google Maps,” she replied. Said the bus driver “Google is always wrong.” So I am not the only one.

Underdog (as you might expect from the name) is downstairs, in a very cave like cellar. They have three fixed and 16 rotating taps, plus a beer engine. The cask beer usually goes on Friday and is not replaced once its is gone,

They have the usual video board by it was dim in the pub and I didn’t realize the picture was not quite in focus but you get the idea.

I hadn’t had a beer yet from Yellow Belly so I ordered their Snooze Button Stout. Very nice.

Next up was Hope Brewing Foreign Extra Stout. A bit stronger at 6.5% and lots of flavor. These Irish breweries know how to brew good dark beers.

I wasn’t ready to leave so I had an O’Brother Liberty Pilsner to sort of clear my palate. Also a very nice beer.

Lots more was going on — in the Underdog I met a guy who used to live within of few miles of me in Los Angeles but has lived in Stockholm for the past 8 or 9 years. He was trying all sorts of bottled beers and sharing them around. I only remember the Cantillon but there were some interesting Irish beers as well.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Dublin Day 3

Checking over my notes, I realized it had been quite a few years since I was out to Rathgar. It was also somewhat in the direction of my main goal, so I hopped on a bus and was soon there.

There is a pizza place called The Revolution that last time I was there stocked a good selection of bottled craft beer but had no taps. I heard they had added a couple of taps so I went to check it out. They had two O’Brother beers on tap (didn’t get a picture) but it looked like there was some kind of private party going on so I didn’t go in.

At the same intersection is The 108, another Galway Bay Brewery pub.

This one is a bit different than the pubs in the city center. They have a good range of their own beers but not too many interesting guests. They also have the industrial beers that you’d find at a typic Dublin pub. You know, the one with the harp and the one with the red star.

I started off with their Helles, which was quite nice.

It was lunch time so I ordered their Beef Stew. Not quite what I expected but it tasted good.

I really like their Of Foam and Fury Double IPA but at 8.5% I thought it a bit much with more places to visit. So I had the Stormy Port Porter. Again, very nice. It helps that I have a number of 50 cent off coupons courtesy of my membership in Beoir, the Irish Beer Consumers group (their equivalent of CAMRA, PiNT, Zythos, etc). Traveled all this way to save a Euro!

I hopped on another bus and after a bit of a walk was at the Four Provinces taproom pub. The brewery is in the industrial park (excuse me, “industrial estate”) behind. This was a proper old pub they took over a year or so ago. A bunch of their beers, some Irish craft guests and the usual suspects of industrial beers.

I had tasted their Piper Amber at Taproom 47 the other night so I ordered a pint of that. A very nice.

When I posted the picture on Twitter a bunch of people replied “Get the Láidir if it’s on.”  Immediately the brewery Twitter account replied to the effect, “Sorry, we’re out and the next batch is conditioning and should be ready in a couple of weeks.” Darn. Then as an afterthought they posted, “Unless Ross stashed away a barrel.” So I went and checked the tap handles and sure enough Láidir Robust Porter was one. I asked the barman, “Is that on?” He gave me smile and said yes. So I replied “You must be Ross,” which he affirmed and said “Yes, I stashed a barrel. I really like this beer.”. I can say to everybody, Ross is the Man! We had a nice conversation. Turns out he had lived in Copenhagen for a while and we discussed our favorite Copenhagen pubs.

Oh, and the beer. It was magnificent 

I want to tell Irish brewers, stop with the hazy juice IPAs, the mango kiwi kettle sours, the imperial black saisons (OK, that one was Belgian) and brew beers like this. Your beer culture is dark beers, embrace it! But I know they have to make a living and if the public wants mango kiwi sours then they have to brew them. Oh well.

After a while, it was time to head back. Again my plans were foisted by Google maps. I had a place in mind and Google maps told me they stop to get off. Except that wasn’t the name Dublin Bus uses for the stop. I had actually noticed that on my way to The 108 but I had my phone out and could see this was the stop I wanted (plus I remembered it). The bus from Four Provinces was crowded, so I didn’t have my phone out until too late. The bus did go on to a block or so from my hotel, so I took that as sign. So I went up to my room and proceeded to check my inner eyelids for leaks.

A bit later my stomach growled so I went off to the Black Sheep for some food and a beer. By my reckoning this is the best of the Dublin Galway Bay Pubs, though I’m sure others have their favorites.

It was crowed (as would be expected for a Saturday night) and the only seat I found was at the bar. They have taps in two rooms and the back room is also where the hand pumps are. I noticed they had three cask beers on but I couldn’t really get close enough to see what they were. But one had a Rascal’s logo so I ordered that.

Turns out to be their Big Smoke Imperial Stout. Very nice.

A burger sounded right to me, so I ordered the Elvis Burger. Big mistake, the thing was ginormous.

That needed another beer, so I finally got my Of Foam and Fury. I had forgotten that it comes in a smaller glass — I could have had one at lunch after all. But I did get my 50 cents off.

Up the street a bit Galway Bay has a new place called Paddle & Peel. Until recently it was another beer bar, The Beerhouse, that was decent. (On my first visit to Dublin it was a still different place with a name like Byrne’s Beverage House). Supposedly this is a prototype for a new chain of gourmet pizza and beer restaurants. I stuck my head in the door, thinking maybe a nightcap but the Elvis Burger was still sitting in my gut and the smell of pizza did not have a good effect. So I called it a night.