Dry January or Tryanuary? Here’s a place you can do both!

Dry January is a relatively modern phenomenon in which folk swear off the demon drink in an attempt to undo some of the damage they have inflicted upon their body temples over the Christmas party season. I’m not into it myself.

Tryanuary started in 2015 and it aims to encourage people to get out and try new beers in different pubs. In a fairly quiet time of year I’m sure the hospitality sector welcomes any new custom.

I was reading The Times (Ireland Edition) on the 4th of January and I spotted an article on High Nelly, a coffee shop, bar, bicycle shop and museum. And I wasn’t going to be very far away from it.

I know that you’re thinking this place would be pure hipsterville, and maybe if it was in a big city or in somewhere like Portland, Oregon, it would be. But they don’t do hipster stuff in Pallasgreen. Our welcome was genuine and warm and the place was, dare I say it; quaint.

You can get de-alcholised wine and cheese if you’re ‘doing’ Dry January. They also do a tasty home made soup and offer a range of sandwiches and cakes. The house draught Lager is brewed locally by Treaty City.

So I went with that, a very enjoyable crisp, fresh pint it was too. All the more so because of the tap with handlebars!

So, if you fancy trying somewhere new or you’re in the market for a bike you should pay a visit to High Nelly. Even if you’re not into Tryanuary or Dry January… Sláinte!

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2018 – The Best Beery Bits!

Irish Craft Beer Can

In 2018 I was pretty lazy with this blog but I was busy with work, life and beer. The lines got blurred and some of my beer highlights were while working, which is lucky for me I suppose! Anyway, here’s a look back at some standout beers, bars and events. One of the first beers that stood out was Trouble Brewing’s Protect Ya Neck, a Wu Tang Clan inspired milkshake of an IPA. I enjoyed it and hopefully it will show up again in the summer of 2019.

YellowBelly’s Kellerbier was another highlight from the early part of the year. It helped me to embrace my Viking heritage.

I had my last pint of Independent beer in Guy’s bar in Clifden as they were one of the casualties of 2018, the baton is passed to Bridewell to keep the flag flying in Connemara.

Spring saw two London breweries land over here, Five Points and Gypsy Hill. I’ve probably had more of the Five Points during the year as I came across them. Solid beers.

In the freak snow myself and my buddies hunkered down in our hut with Rascal’s Flanders Red which warmed us right up.

In work we launched the first in an exciting series of Rye River special brews. The Belgian Imperial Stout was lovely.

And the next day we had the Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fair. I always enjoy this event and 2018 was no exception. Looking forward to 2019 when it takes place right before St. Patrick’s Day.

In early April I was in the north of Italy. Il Covo Beer House was a great surprise find. If you’re near Peschiera Del Garda you need to check it out.

In May my friends helped me celebrate my 40th, we enjoyed a keg of Daragh’s Session IPA in the sun.

Also in May I enjoyed meeting Giles from Wild Beer in 57 The Headline where he guided us through a tasting of their beers.

And then there was the time I gave Leo Varadkar some Miami J at Bloom. He liked it too.

Kinnegar put out some great cans this year. They tasted every bit as good as they looked.

In June I was at my friend’s wedding in the Czech Republic where I had one or two Lagers.

Speaking of Lager, Larkin’s Helles went down very nicely indeed at the Harbour Brewha. That was a cool small festival, hopefully Mark ‘Antrim Man’ Molloy is going to organise it again in 2019.

The BrewDog Cinematic Circus was an interesting event during the summer where I was able to try their Overworks sours for the first time.

My own small event, the Midlands Craft Beer festival was good craic as always. I think Liam from St. Mel’s even enjoyed it. Planning for 2019 will commence shortly. It’ll be the 5th year of the event.

On a slightly different scale, the annual trip to Ballymote for Hagstravaganza was great fun with some lesser spotted beers to sup.

I enjoyed a few of Dot Brew’s Fridge Art over the Summer.

The Big Grill was a feast of barbecue and beer, and the weather was good for the most part which was a bonus.

I finally made it in to the Guinness Open Gate brewery where I was able to try their rather good Belgian inspired brews and the collaboration with Timmermans.

The Irish Craft Beer Festival got a bit of a needed shake up and was moved to the Leinster Cricket Grounds in Rathmines. I think the event benefited from the changes to scale and venue.

Dead Centre’s Moondust showed that there was more to them than just Pale Ales and IPAs, looking forward to the brew pub opening in February 2019.

I visited Mother Mac’s in Limerick for the first time. It’s a cool spot, worth checking out.

In November I was in Belgium. Billie’s in Antwerp was probably my favourite spot.

To round the year off I organised some tap takeovers with Rye River and McGargles beers. The first was in November in one of the coolest bars in Dublin – Underdog.

I enjoyed doing a Beer Advent Calendar.

And the final event of the year was the tap takeover in The Salt House, Galway which just happens to be one of my favourite pubs . . . ever! There’s one coming up in Abbots Ale House in January for all of the Cork beer fans.

Thanks for joining me on this journey, 2019 is looking like another great year of beer. Happy New Year and Sláinte!

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A few beers in Bruges

The first time I was in Bruges was January 2011 and I decided then that I’d revisit the place when I was 40. I had a vague plan to head there for the weekend with a few mates but, ended up there with the family instead! There was some work being done on the train line so it took us a while to get there from Antwerp. At one stage I thought we had taken the wrong train and were headed for Brussels instead. I didn’t panic, as I know they sell beer there too. Anyway, De Garre was top of my list to revisit in Bruges. They have a lovely house beer, a Tripel, brewed for them by Brouwerij Van Steenbeerge. It comes with a small bowl of cheese. As it was time for a late lunch I ordered the cheese (is there such thing as too much cheese?) and paté.

It’s a cool spot down a tiny alley between the two main squares in Bruges. Worth a visit.

The second place on my short list was ‘t Brugs Beertje. This place has a serious selection of beer. It’s a little bit like an old sitting room. My first beer was the Special Export Stout from Brouwerij De Dolle Brouwers. It was like black treacle with some bitterness for balance. Gorgeous.

After that I went with Boon’s Two Year Unblended Oude Lambiek. Lovely, tart and funky. I definitely enjoyed my second time in Bruges. Sláinte!

And we all lived happily ever after. If you like happy endings stop reading here!

But if you want to read me whinging read on…

Kulminator was on my radar in Antwerp. It came highly recommended by some of my colleagues and also in the Where To Drink Beer book. (I have a few contributions featured in the book too. It would make a nice gift for any of your beer loving friends. No, I’m not on commission, I didn’t even get a free copy!) So, I got a taxi from the train station to Kulminator as we were going home the next day and this was my last chance to visit the place. But the door was closed. I knocked and rang the bell as there were people inside. A man who I assume is the proprietor came out and gestured at me to go away. Now, I know what you’re thinking; ‘I wouldn’t let you into my bar either Simon!’…but there were other, younger, better looking, local people mounting their bikes and shaking their heads. They said to me; ‘It’s not a place for drinking, just degustation!’ I can degust with the best of ’em given half a chance but sadly it wasn’t to be. I went back to the waiting taxi a disappointed man. So, while I’d love to add a recommendation to this place I cannot. Yes, I know there are people with real problems in the world. Sigh.

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An epic sesh in Antwerp!

So we were in Antwerp. And we were going to the zoo. But it was raining. So I said I’d just call in to fellow Midlands man Patrick in Kelly’s Irish Pub for a minute. (The zoo is one side of Central Station, Kelly’s is just the other side…)

I’m not really in the habit of drinking in Irish bars while abroad but exceptions have to be made from time to time. Anyway, I was delighted to be able to order a glass of a local Pale Ale by De Koninck. This one reminded me of some of Black Donkey’s beers, Buck It for instance.

I followed that with a Coronet. Which wasn’t bad at all. Then Patrick finished his shift. He brought me next door to Bier Central and showed me their extensive cellar.

They offer 300 bottles of beer and have 26 on tap.

I chose a Mort Subite from said impressive selection next. A lovely Gueuze.

This tipping in to meet Patrick for a minute was going well.

After an enjoyable time in Bier Central we headed on to Billie’s Bier Kafétaria where I was able to sample the delights of Rodenbach Alexander. On Nitro! It was soft and fruity like a tasty desert.

At this stage my phone had died and so I had to enlist Patrick’s help with the beertography. We also sampled Excuse Me While I Kiss My Stout from Hedonis. Which was only gorgeous. Billie’s is a cool spot.

Next stop was The Corner House on Nationalstraat. This is run by another Irish man, Alan and his partner. It’s very much in the Belgian tradition of a Brown Bar (Beer cafe) though. For something different I tried a Ginger Tipple which seemed to be produced in tiny batches. Patrick plumped for the 11% version, I was far more sensible and had the far more sessionable 8% Tipple! A really nice Ginger Beer, I was informed below that it is fermented with natural honey and some lime.

I finished the day, as I had started, with a beer from De Koninck, Tripel D’Anvers. Go hard, then go home as they say. I may have left out a couple of beers along the way for the sake of brevity. Patrick tells me that you’re not really supposed to order pints, to drink like the locals it’s all ‘pintjes’ or 250 ml pours. Pity I didn’t know that at the start of the evening! Be sure to check out these pubs when in Antwerp. I had a great time. Sláinte!

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Wake up and smell the coffee!

The evenings are drawing in and some of the seasonal beers are getting darker. I tried two Coffee Porters last night. The first was Dead Centre’s Moondust which was pouring in The Taphouse, Ranelagh. This one was brewed with Moondust coffee from Mullingar’s Bell Lane. I suppose that name was too good not to use for the beer as well! I’m not going to wax lyrical about moonbeams dancing on my tongue but I’ll simply tell you that this limited edition Porter is rather lovely. It’s light bodied and a pint was easy to put away. The cold press coffee brought some tasty flavours to the party. Recommended.

I wanted to keep the Coffee Porter vibes going and luckily enough I had some Black Gold in the stash at home. This isn’t the first collaboration between Wicklow Wolf and Java Republic. I didn’t really dig the first one A Beer Called Rwanda. I had also heard some mixed reports about Black Gold so my expectations were set pretty low. However, my tastes may have evolved since then, I may have been feeling more receptive or this may simply be a better beer. Because I quite liked it. It’s a bit stronger than Moondust and is slightly more viscous. You could definitely drink more Moondust but Black Gold makes for a decent nightcap. Try both yourself and let me know what you think. Sláinte!

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