***I wanted to FIRST start off this post by saying, Thursday, December 1st, Galway Bay Brewery in association with The Oslo, Salthouse and Gallagher Galway are hosting a BEARD-OFF Fundraiser to raise money for Galway Hospice. If your means allow, please donate HERE and we will watch all of these grown men’s glorious beards be shaved off for an amazing cause. Head to the Galway Beard-Off Fundraiser Facebook Page to see videos of the boys talking about how life will be without beards… Now, back to your regularly scheduled Blog Post….***
We have a very special post today, as I will recant the tale of how Holly Kay and I met some of the coolest people in Ireland… WITH BEER!
The last post I wrote about Ireland left off with us getting a great night’s sleep after a wonderful night out in Killarney. From there, we drove the unbelievably GORGEOUS Dingle Peninsula, whose vistas are stunning, every way you turn.
Come on! Come on!I mean, COME ON!!
From there, we drove and stayed in Gallow’s View Bed & Breakfast in Bunratty, where we were warmly welcomed by our host. I’ll write about this part of our trip in a later blog post, so stay tuned.
Our next B&B was St. Judes, in Upper Salthill, just across the river from Galway City. St. Judes was a lovely, French-style home just about a 10 minute walk into Galway proper, and, if you walk in the opposite direction, about 10 minutes from Lower Salthill, with bars, restaurants, an aquarium, and some casinos.
Holly Kay in the Latin Quarter, Galway.
Before we left the US, I posted a message on a beer group that I’m a part of on Facebook, asking for recommendations for awesome craft beer in Ireland. I received a response from Alan O’Reilly, manager of Oslo Bar in Lower Salthill, which is the flagship pub of the Galway Bay Brewery.
Alan wrote, “If you bring me American Craft Beer, I will give you beer. Galway Bay Brewery beer!” Holly immediately bought two large wine bottle sized ziplock bags on Amazon (which triple zip, so if anything breaks or leaks, it won’t get all over your clothes), and we brought 4 different American beers over with us.
We arrived at Oslo Bar around 6:30pm, and were on the lookout for Alan, who we found out back, inside what seemed to be Galway Bay Brewery’s brew house. We soon discovered that GBB had expanded, and the brew house in the back of Oslo Bar is now used as a Distillery for Micil Poitín, an Irish sprit (think of it as Irish moonshine), made from Irish Grain and bogbean, a plant that grows in bogs throughout Europe. We met Padraic O’Griallais, who quit his job as an Irish Speaking Schoolteacher, to take over his family’s business. Micil is named after his Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Micil Mac Chearra. Of course, Holly Kay and I were poured a sample, and it was spicy, herbal, and warmed our hearts and souls with the spirit of Ireland. Man, it was so cool.
After that amazing introduction, it was time to show Alan the beers we brought!
We brought two Gose-style sours, Westbrook Brewing Gose, and Stillwater Artisinal Gose Gone Wild, an IPA that our buddy Nathan had brought us from Georgia, Orpheus Brewing Life.Death.Life.Truth, and Peak Organic The Juice, an amazing new beer from this brewery, a hoppy pale ale.
To say Alan was thrilled would be an understatement. I mean, just look at our faces in the photo above. It was so cool to make new friends halfway across the world, simply with craft beer! Alan was giddily showing his coworkers the beer we brought him, and told us to follow him back down to the bar.
Alan giving us his best smile, and showing some bar patrons some amazing stouts that are NOT Guinness. (I sent this to my Dad, of course, please refer to my blog post about the Stout Monster)
We sat down at the bar and Alan poured me one of GBB’s newest beers, a collaboration with Cigar City Brewing (!!!), Ceasefire Rhubarb Sloe Sour. Some lemon and lime pucker, with nice bitterness from the rhubarb. These guys aren’t messing around with their beers. They recently hired Will Avery, all the way from Georgia (the United State, not the country) to be their Brewmaster, and expanded their brew house to a location just outside of Galway City.
We were going to visit the brew house itself, but the timing didn’t work out, so that just means we’ll have to go back to Galway soon so I can write another blog post! Ok, Holly? 😉
Alan poured Holly a Harvest Altar, a delightful brown ale with sweet, nutty caramel from the malts, with some nice hop spice and bitterness.
Next up for me was Full Sail, GBB’s flagship IPA, really well balanced, with some juicy hops (El Dorado and Cascade) and a sweet malt backbone. This guy clocks in at 5.8%, so, it would be cool to have a few of these and see how the flavors develop. Again, that’ll be another trip back to Galway!
While at Oslo Bar, we also met Darren Green, Alan’s dear friend, whiskey expert, and manager of Garavan’s in Galway, which won Whiskey Bar of the Year in 2014 and 2015. As soon as he heard Holly Kay mention the word whiskey, he perked up, and immediately rattled off nearly the entire history of Irish Whiskey, to our surprise, and also to our DELIGHT
Alan was finishing work at 7pm, and told us to meet he and Darren later at Lonergan’s Bar, just a short walk from Oslo Bar, which, as he described it, is unlike any other bar we’d see in Ireland… “We’re the youngest people there by 50 YEARS…) But first, we asked for dinner recommendations, and Alan suggested Dough Bros, in Galway City. We had to go, because you can’t just have one pizza in Ireland…
It’s Dough Bros, Bro!
Holly and I shared a Limeburner Pale Ale from Kinnegar Brewing in Donegal. As Alan put it, these guys don’t make a bad beer. This bottle was about 6 months from its bottling date, but the citrus of the hops stuck around just enough to balance the malts. Crisp, and super refreshing, this was a perfect pairing to our pizza… Bros.
Alright, so… Lonergan’s. We took a cab back down to Salthill, and walked into the pub, and, as Alan had described, the place was full of elderly Irish men (and one dog). The only other lady in the pub was our sweet Barmaid. She poured us two pints of Murphy’s Irish Stout, and we sipped them as we waited for our new friends to join us…
Proper Glassware… Also, can you call this a perfect pour? Or is that trademarked?
A few minutes later, Alan, Darren, and Sjef (a bartender and another whiskey connoisseur from Garavan’s) came in. Suffice to say, Alan made good on his promise, (but not before signing up for, and encouraging Holly Kay and I, to donate funds to Galway Hospice for GBB’s BEARD-OFF Fundraiser), as we were chatting with the fellas about
The Circus American Politics, Irish television show Father Ted, Craft Beer, Whiskey, and everything else under the sun, every few minutes, another pint of Murphy’s would magically appear in our hands. By about 11pm, Holly Kay and I looked at each other, and said “We’ve GOT to go.” We’d been up since around 7am, and had driven several hours that day, and although Murphy’s is less than 5% ABV, when you’ve drank 6 or 7 of them, you start to get a little bit of the jelly leg, if ya know what I mean. So we drank what we could of that last pint, bid our goodnights, and went back to St. Jude for a gooooood night’s sleep.
I’m going to stop here, and will continue our Galway tale in my next blog post.
I’ll finish by reiterating that TOMORROW NIGHT is Galway Bay Brewery’s BEARD-OFF Fundraiser to raise money for Galway Hospice, and you can donate HERE if your means allow!
Thanks for reading, and until next time!