Pils’n’Thrills and (no) Bellyaches!

It’s the Irish Summer, it’s a Bank Holiday weekend, you can’t go to the pub and you have a woeful thirst. In my last blog I told you about some great places you can order craft beer online but here are some easy drinking, wallet friendly options too.

Manislav must be one of the lads who works in Dundalk’s Pearse Lyons Brewery. It’s a 5% Czech style Pilsner that you’ll find in Tesco. And it is hard to distinguish from the actual Czech brewed beers in it’s green bottle!

The Crafty Brewing Company Irish Lager is another 5% Pilsner brewed in Celbridge by Rye River Brewing Company (my employer!). This is to be found exclusively in Lidl. It has picked up a few awards along the way and is a favourite of my brewing colleagues.

Rheinbacher Premium Pilsner is available in Aldi. It’s 4.9% and ‘brewed in accordance with the German purity law’ apparently. This is the only one of the trio that’s actually brewed on the continent and it’s the cheapest of the bunch, probably because they’re brewing and selling vast quantities of it. That said, all three are less than two euro for 500mls. It comes highly recommended by such noted beer geeks as John ‘Beer Nut’ and Sean ‘Wide Street’. And they all make for damn fine drinking on a sunny afternoon. Czech, em out! (Apologies) Sláinte!

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Beer in isolation

The pubs have been closed for the longest time in living memory. According to reports in the national media this has resulted in a spike in off sales. I’m not sure that this equates to people drinking more than they normally would though. Personally I’m in favour of little and often instead of a massive bender at the weekend. It means that you can relax and enjoy a drink and you (generally) don’t have a hangover.

McGargles beers brewed by Rye River (and a couple of sknakey ones from St Mel’s photobombing!)

You’ll be glad to hear that I’m still working as part of the Rye River crew, getting our beers on to shelves around the country. So, you know, grab a few when you’re out picking up your essential shopping!

A delivery from The Beer Club

But what if you are craving some beers that you can’t find locally, or you’re trying to limit your excursions? The good news is that you have loads of options, some from people who have been providing these services for a while, some from those who’ve quickly adapted to the current situation.

Craig Kearney went to the trouble of putting together a list of breweries selling directly to the public here so fair play to him. Any support for independent Irish breweries is a great thing and you can be sure that you’re keeping people in their jobs.

A couple of cans from Heaney

Some notes to finish on: when you order beer for yourself it’s not a ‘care package’, if someone sends it to you that’s fair enough. Maybe start calling them ‘self care packages’. I just had to get that off my chest. Secondly, this isn’t a sponsored post, (NEWSFLASH) I just know and am somewhat fond of the Irish craft beer thing. Lastly, man, I miss beer festivals. Sláinte!

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The Revenge of the Pikemen!

Mural in The Slieve Bloom, Kinnitty

So, it turns out, the guy that built Kinnitty Castle wasn’t a nice dude. But this isn’t a history blog so I’ll let you do your own research. We went for a walk around Glenbarrow in the Slieve Bloom mountains today and I decided that we’d stop by the new brewery in Kinnitty on our way home.

Pikeman Red Ale in The Slieve Bloom

Kieran the proprietor gave me a great welcome and a tasty of their nice, malty Red Ale. He told me it was very popular with the locals and as he said it two mature gentlemen came up to the bar and called a pair of pints as if to prove his point!

With Alistair the brewer at Slieve Bloom

Kieran then brought me out to the back of the pub where they have a tidy brewing set up. Alistair, the brewer is one of only a small handful in Ireland that has studied at Heriot-Watt. And he is clearly dedicated to the cause, brewing on a Sunday afternoon.

Home grown hops in The Slieve Bloom

They have grown a small amount of hops in their garden and hope to use them in a future brew. I invited the lads to this year’s Midlands Craft Beer Festival and they said they’ll have a few brews ready to go by then. I was very impressed this spot, it’s an unpretentious pub with good local custom and I recommend paying a visit. Kieran kindly gave me a few samples to take home too. Sláinte!

Kieran pulling a pint of Pikeman Red Ale in The Slieve Bloom

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A few beers in NYC.

First, a pint of Threes

I’m just back from a trip to New York with the family over the Christmas break. Armed with recommendations from a few friends and the Where to Drink Beer book I was more ready than I had been on my last visit over a decade ago. In fact, many of the places weren’t even there the last time! My first stop was Threes on Franklin and Kent in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It was all of a four minute walk from where we were staying and I was off to a good start with their Kicking and Screaming Pilsner. I also enjoyed their tasty burger. Passing Time, their grisette, was delicious. Padraig Fox spoke highly of their Vliet Pilsner so that gave me all of the excuse I needed for a second visit. It wasn’t a wasted trip. The place has a nice vibe and the lads behind the bar are sound.

The tap list in Brouwerij Lane

It was on to Brouwerij Lane next. This place has a great, rotating tap list as well as an impressive range of bottles and cans in a large fridge. There is no bar, as such, but that doesn’t mean you can pour your own! I had great craic chatting with Tegan and Ben. Grimm’s Super Spruce, a gøse was lovely as was Saunter, a mild from Suarez Family Brewery. $60 Nachos from Hoof Hearted is one of those that I had to try as the name tickled my puerile sense of humour. It’s a grand IPA. Unfortunately this place closes at 10 most evenings so I wasn’t able to pay it a second visit. But if you’re in the area you should definitely go in and have one for me!

Seven Doors Grisette in The Blind Tiger

The Blind Tiger was described to me as ‘the OG craft beer bar of NYC’ by David Clarke. The family was in a loooong que for the Museum of Illusions. The Blind Tiger was only a thirteen minute walk away. Reader, I left them queing. Here I enjoyed another grisette, this time from Seven Doors. They were also pouring Hill Farmstead’s Of First and Last Things IPA, I think I prefer their sours (the couple I’ve had) but it was still very good indeed. I Grimm’s Galaxy Pop!, a Berliner weisse next, yes it did taste like ‘candy’! And I completed my brief session with Revolution’s Deth’s Tar, an Imperial Stout that lived up to it’s name and was as treacley as you’d expect. I rejoined the family at the top of the que and the Museum of Illusions was more fun than I thought it would be.

ET Found Home Edition Schwarzbier at Evil Twin

Shane Smith was one of a few others that were coincidentally over in New York at the same time so we met up with his friend Kristin Elliott in Evil Twin. We all enjoyed the Black Lager. My favourite Evil Twin on the day was Yes I Eat On The Subway And I Don’t Think It’s Weird IPA. There was also a Monkish tap takeover in the back room so we shared some small pour of their very aptly named Foggiest Window and Gang of Four. If you like your IPAs hazy, hoppy and strong, these are right up your alley. Myself and Kristin also shared some yummy Bao buns from the food truck outside.

Evil Twin Brewing NYC

Kings County Brewers Collective

Next stop for Shane and I was Kings County Brewers Collective. Both of us agreed that their big boozy Ryde to Oblivion was the pick of the bunch there. I may also have indulged in some falafel pizza from Traze.

Grimm Artisanal Ales

Our last port of call was Grimm’s Tap Room. This place was cool and I was delighted to get to visit after enjoying a couple of their beers in the aforementioned bars. Gathering with Jester King, a fruited sour was the stand out beer here but we didn’t have any bad ones.

‘Irish’ Black Lager in McSorley’s Old Ale House

I paid a very brief visit to McSorley’s Old Ale House. Between one thing and another I could’ve enjoyed it more. The beer is easy drink and the place is like something out of Gangs of New York.

Tørst

Tørst has been on my beer bucket list pretty much since it opened. David had told me to ask for Mark, Mark wasn’t there but Mike looked after me very well in his stead. They have an absolutely savage line up of beers and natural wines, whatever they are. The food menu also looked awesome but I was just after having dinner with the family and I couldn’t even manage a few nuts. I loved Fou D’or Sour from Hermit Thrush and Wood Ya Honey from Jackie O’s. Put this place down as an absolute must. And maybe go hungry.

Sloop Juice Bomb in One World Observatory

On New Year’s Eve we went up the One World Observatory and I thought it was too cool a spot not to have a beer. It was great that they were pouring micro brewed beer as I’d imagine a similar spot in Ireland would have a limited selection. And Juice Bomb from Sloop was very tasty. But it was $16 and served in a plastic pint pot. Sure look, had to be done!

Paulie Gee’s draught beer line up. In a bath tub.

I was very happy to see Other Half’s Green City IPA on the menu in Paulie Gee’s. It’s a great match for their pizza. And it’s a deadly spot. After that we went to Prospect Park to catch the New Year’s Eve fireworks. They were way better than watching a ball drop in Times Square. No, really.

Thanks for coming on this trip with me. Sláinte!

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Craft Beer Days 2019

Do you remember the last time I was in Hamburg? Well I do! And when the boss asked if I’d be willing to go to Craft Beer Days again I didn’t hesitate before agreeing…

This time though I planned the trip a little better, arriving a day early to check out a few places other than the fantastic Altes Mädchen. My first stop was Galopper Des Jahres which was only a ten minute walk from the main event. My first beer was an IPL – Prototyp, from local brewery Kehrwieder. Nice pub, decent beer, I was off to a good start.

And then to Altes Mädchen for the pre festival warm up. I really liked their New Era Dry Hopped Pilsener and White IPA Matrosenschluck. Despite the difficulty in ordering it!

Later that evening myself and my new pal Funs went to check out ÜberQuell near the docks. I went with their SupaDupa IPA and Funs had their Wheat IPA. This was a grand spot that I’d say would have been hopping if we hadn’t gone in ten minutes before closing time. Then we rejoined the group in the rather appropriately named Tipsy Baker.

The next day Peter and I were stationed behind the bar with several McGargles beers pouring. Francis Big Bangin’ IPA was particularly well received and we were kept busy! (Above picture taken by Henning Angerer)

I was told about Schoppe Bräu’s Holy Shit 15% IPA and in the interest of research I had to try it. It was very bitter and had a bit of a burning aftertaste. Great craic altogether.

Nicky from Munich’s And Union (Moycullen, Co. Galway originally), Funs from La Trappe and I honestly didn’t share beard care tips.

The next day I started off sensibly with BrewDog’s newish Punk AF. Clever name aside; I didn’t fall in love with it.

And Union’s Steph Weiss tasted lovely on what was turning out to be a warm (31c) sunny Sunday.

I tried a few of Sudden Death’s beers over the weekend, including the very enjoyable Sour IPA Skull Crusher. Great bunch of lads with very cool artwork.

La Trappe’s Barrel Aged Quadruple was beautiful. Pick up a bottle if you see it.

And that was just about it, bar clearing up and some post festival beers and food. It has to be said the food in Altes Mädchen is consistently great and the staff were extremely friendly and helpful. Craft Beer Days was a great, well run event, thanks to Volker and Berit for inviting us…who knows, I could be back soon. Sláinte!

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