I know it has been a while since I’ve written anything, and I must apologize. The whole not-getting-paid-for-writing thing, can allow life to get the better of my time. I would also like to send a thank you to a local writer, George Lenker, for his wonderful suggestions when visiting Ireland. Check his column out on Masslive, under Beer Nut.
Ireland has always been a bucket list location for me, and I was able to visit with my family recently. When you think of Ireland, what comes to your mind? Despite popular belief, it’s no land of leprechauns and pots of gold. No, it’s a land of friendly people, endless green landscapes, narrow dugout country roads, castles and potholes (I only lost a hubcap). But seriously, it was a great trip. While there, I was able to try some local food and drink, and I would love to share some of those experiences with you, so please read on and enjoy.
The first stop was Dublin, which in reality is really not the best place to experience the true feel of Ireland, but it has some great little treasures. My advice, ask locals where they go and they won’t hold back from giving you a list of suggestions. If you like a calmer atmosphere with that traditional Irish Pub flare, try The Long Hall. To make sure ya don’t step on the wee one’s, there’s a sign advising no minors, but that refers to the young ones under 12. If you want the low key feel, and enjoy people watching, or just want to enjoy a book and a drink, the front of the bar allows you to savor that drink at your own leisure. In the back, there are tables to sit and share stories.
I tried an O’Hara’s Irish Red, and finished off with a snort (old Irish slang for a “shot”) of Teeling Irish Whiskey. I highly recommend stopping in this pub, you will be missing out if you don’t. It’s beautiful inside, and there is a wide variety of drinks to give your palate it’s own private tour of Ireland. Speaking of tours for your palate, if you get hungry I would also recommend visiting The Brazen Head. Here is a pub with everything from outdoor seating, live music, and Irish storytelling, to busy decor, and great food and drink! Men, if you need to drain your fluids, don’t play shy since they have a trough.
Even for being busy and packed, we were able to find a seat in the “library.” While you won’t meet Colonel Mustard, or Miss Scarlet, you will might friendly and attentive waitstaff willing to wet your whistle and fill your tummies. On a side note, the library is a room with wall to wall whiskey boxes and books. The Brazen head’s cuisine ranges from traditional Bangers and Mash and Fish & Chips, to burgers and salads. They have a large menu, so feel free to peruse it on their web site. The beer and whiskey selection is quite on par, don’t expect and high ABV’s though. There’s a few Irish craft beer on tap as well as the normal staples of the isle. The Kilkenny Irish red was a great beer to wash down the delicious food, but if you are into the hoppy IPA’s, like most people today, try the McGargles Pale.
Another great thing about Ireland, besides their beer and whiskey, is their coffee and culturally diverse cuisine. Many foreigners move in to learn English, and while there they introduce their culinary familiarities. Indian, Asian and much more can be experienced in almost any small town. One of those places of note that we found on our exploration was Cotta Asian fusion restaurant. This small eatery is located in a little town, and right across from a beautiful stream in New Castle west. The small towns close early, most people are at home by 9pm so get their early. They carry everything form sushi to chili, to masala and curry. If you like good Irish beer, you will not find it here, but you will find some beers of other countries to match the Asian flare. Since most of the locals do not take to spicy foods well, the chefs love it when you order something spicy; you may even receive some special treatment in appreciation.
Craft beer anyone? For an excellent experience, I would highly advise a trip to Dingle. This small town is a comfortable setting for tourism and the locals. It’s slow paced, has great history, a distillery and a brewery, and their own dolphin. Dingle is also home to some of the best ice cream around, thanks Murphy’s! Treat yourself to Dick Mack’s Brewhouse for a pleasant experience. This pub is a bar, brewery, and leather shop. They are cash only, so come prepared, and there is an ATM right up the street if need be. You can enjoy free samples of their beer, order half or full pints, buy a belt, and sample from one of the best whiskey selections I have ever seen. Dick Mack’s coffee stout is a mighty rival to Guinness, I encourage you to compare.
I hope you enjoyed these suggestions, and please let us know if you have the chance to visit these places. The next article will have a few more suggestions, as well as some more local beers to try. As always, enjoy the world one beer at a time.
I love the history of beer and how its made, the whole beer experience. My philosophy is, finding your beer is like finding your soul-mate, you may have a long search, and learn some lessons, but there is a beer that’s just right for you.