I am fortunate enough to have a job that affords me some travel opportunities. To date, those trips have all been domestic ones, but, finally, an opportunity arose for me to travel to Dublin for a week, all on the company dime. And while there was much work to be done, there was also enough time for me to go out “on the gargle” a bit (i.e., out for some beers).
As someone who has already written specifically on the perfect nature of the Guinness, well, this was a wonderful opportunity to go to the source of this magic stuff. And while I didn’t do the factory tour, I did sample quite a bit of it in Ireland, as well as some other common/popular beers there.
First, let’s start with “a pint of the black stuff.” (I will be throwing the Dublin-specific jargon around in this blog post, in quotes, as one of the folks I was working with there was kind enough to teach me some drinking lingo. This is in fact how they often order it over there, I can attest).
I had heard, from other folks in my workplace, that the Guinness in fact tastes different in Dublin. I will attest to that, but, also, that I only noticed it on the first Guinness I drank there. After that, they all just tasted like Guinness. Which is a fine, fine thing, of course.
I drank Guinness at just about every stop along my trip over the course of the week. It’s a good “foundation beer,” the base layer in a beer pyramid that I was assembling in my gut.
But there were many other fine choices that I enjoyed.
This is a Smithwick’s Irish Red Ale. I learned, three days in, that despite the spelling, the locals pronounce it as “Smithick’s.” It’s probably the second most commonly served Irish beer I saw on tap there (not counting “imports,” as there was Coors Light on tap there everywhere, and Carlsberg’s, and Heinekens, etc.).
This was maybe the beer I drank the second most of in my time there. They go down easy, have just 150 calories per 12 oz. serving, but with a smooth and easy to drink flavor. I bought a six pack of these at my local food jobber when I got back and they are equally good in a bottled format (just $9, too, another plus).
Another fine choice for when you’re out “in your cups,” as they say.
My enjoyment of the Smithwick’s led me to this tasty choice. My hotel was within walking distance of a quaint little Irish pub, just far enough out of the city proper to feel like I had found some more authentic Dublin than the tourists might be frequenting. A very punchy and funny bartender suggested that I might enjoy this one based on the fact that I was partaking of the Smithwick’s. And then a fine local wanted to buy my wife and I a beer and so I ended up with a pair of these. I ended up being not just “out” but in fact “out out” drinking, on that night.
It was certainly a tasty choice. I don’t know that i enjoyed it more than the Smithwick’s, thought it was certainly a beer I’d drink again. Also a red ale, but a bit thicker and stronger.
That same night, I partook in one of these.
At that point, though, I was deep enough “in my scoops” that I can’t recall whether or not I particularly liked it.
For an American drinker, used to a wide variety of beers, styles and flavors locally, I think the range of beers I drank there was less diverse. The folks at Guinness have taken a shot at making a lager-style beer, and this “Hop House 13” beer is also served all over town, from what I saw.
Lagers, to me, just aren’t interesting enough for me to want to drink them. This was a “one and done” beer for me.
The last beer from my tour was this one. I had this just once, on my last night in town. It was in fact the last beer I had in Ireland.
My punchy bartender friend, when I told him I was looking for something a bit more “beer flavored,” came out with this one. This was the most IPA-style beer I had there and it was delicious. Probably after the Guinness, it was the most memorable of the beers i had there. I hope to find some of these in the states, but no luck as of yet.
I’d say, from the beer lover’s perspective, go to Dublin and drink a bunch of beers. It’s a magical place, whether you get deep “in your scoops” or you’re just there “acting the maggot” (which means dicking around and not really trying very hard to drink correctly).