Galway 2017 Day 1, or “Weren’t You Guys Just in Ireland?”

“Weren’t you just there 6 months ago?” was the question asked by a coworker when he found out Holly Kay and I were traveling to Ireland again.  

“…7.” was my response.

But hey, when one has a chance to spend time with family and amazing craft beer and whiskey friends, one jumps at the chance to go to Ireland again.

Also, there’s beauty everywhere you turn.

Like this…

And this…

Our home base was Galway, where you’ll find pubs like the Oslo Bar (former home of the Galway Bay Brewery), The Salt House (another of GBB’s flagship pubs) and Garavan’s, a world renowned Irish Whiskey bar.

Last time we were in Galway, we met Alan, manager at the Oslo Bar, and Darren, manager at Garavan’s.  (See my previous Galway posts HERE and HERE.). We were so happy to be able to meet up with them again, and bring some more craft beer for them to share as well.

But first, margaritas…

We had some DELICIOUS, PINT-SIZED margaritas at the airport (AKA GOODNIGHT!) and tried out our new fisheye lens clip for the iPhone (it was $10 but it got the job done, wouldn’t ya say?).

These were Blood Orange Margaritas.  I REPEAT. THESE WERE BLOOD ORANGE MARGS.  NIGHT NIGHT.

Shenanigans followed, of course…

Holly Kay’s just plane crazy!


I’m a huge James Carrey fan.

We landed in Shannon airport after an overnight flight having barely slept, and once we got our rental car, we stopped by one of our favorite places from our previous trip, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.

We had a lovely few hours walking around, chatting with the groundskeepers and recalling our previous trip back in November.  

We had lunch at the Drumoland Castle, which was absolutely incredible….

Yeah.  This place.

It was absolutely unreal.

Yuh-huh…

We had a nice Cuppan Tae and some delicious sandwiches in the most beautiful room with the comfiest couches and chairs we’ve ever sat in.  

Having barely slept a wink, we were both nodding off.  But the chairs were so COMFYYYYY…

We stopped about halfway to Galway to get some beverages and gummy bears to keep us awake, and I was surprised to see that the latest, hazy, juice bomb, New England Style IPA trend had caught on even at gas stations in Ireland…


Because, aren’t all NE IPAs just Cloudy Lemon Sparkling Juice Drinks?  ūüėė

We arrived in Galway and met up with my parents and our relatives, and went straight to our favorite pizza place, Dough Bros!  Alan had suggested this place to us the last time we were in Galway, and again, it did not disappoint.  We had 11 people with us at this point, and we all were able to snag tables around the restaurant, and everyone loved their pies.

Holly Kay and I shared a spicy Nduja sausage pie and a Margherita.  Both were great!  We were STARVING and also VERY tired.  Hi Mom and Dad!


Molly, Kelly and Gerard Powers.


I only know four people in this photograph (Ashleigh, Tim, Sean and Matt Powers) but zoom in on the dude in the background and you won’t be disappointed.

Hold on, isn’t this a beer blog?

This was new!  Dough Bros had Independent Brewing Company of Ireland create a session ale just for their restaurant!  This was a gorgeous, crisp, refreshing pale ale with biscuity malt, and juicy orange citrus hops.  What a perfect beer to compliment any of the Dough Bros pies.  Simple, clean, great stuff!

After dinner, we were all spent (the rest of the family traveled into Galway from Sligo, a few hour drive), so we stopped at the nearest convenience store to pick up some supplies for the week, and opted for a quick cab ride back to the AirB&B as it started to pour (as it does, in Ireland. ūüáģūüá™)


Makes for an amazing photo, though.  Galway’s so stinking beautiful!


I’m pretty sure Holly Kay and I conked out just after 9pm Ireland time (4pm New York Time) after having spent almost 40 hours without sleep, but this was the view from our bedroom, which was so special, so it was hard to go to bed even though we were so tired.  (Ok, I’m speaking for myself, Holly fell asleep on the chair in the living room ūüėú)

That’s it for Day 1!  Stay tuned for more fun!

Until next time,

Cheers!

Galway Pt. II, or, I’m Not a Creep But I Did Facebook Friend Our Waiter at Blakes Because He Was Awesome…

**HELLO!  Before we begin, you can still donate to Galway Hospice HERE (We talked about it last week), Alan and the Galway Bay Brewery boys have raised nearly 10,000 Euro total!!  Click the link and donate!**

When last we left you, dear, sweet readers, Holly Kay and I had just tapped out after our ___th Murphy’s Irish Stout, and headed back to our B&B for a long winter’s nap… ¬†(See Galway Bay Brewery Pt. I if you haven’t read it, then head on back here!)

Our next morning, we had our full Irish Breakfast and drove into Galway on our quest for Irish Sweaters! ¬†We’d been looking in each town for the perfect sweaters (because ya have to!!) and we stumbled upon the Galway Woollen Market, a quaint little shop with two floors of many different styles of Aran Islands Knitwear. ¬†Holly ended up with two sweaters, one purple, and one green, which make her look really cute and Irish, and I ended up with a lovely navy blue sweater with big brown wooden buttons that, in my humble opinion, makes me look like Paddington Bear, which is also cute (but not Irish) (but still cute. ¬†I’m cute.)img_2379This picture also made it into last week’s blog, but Holly’s too cute for me to just post it once, and also, it’s right in front of the Galway Woollen Market!!

img_2381HK Drinking a Latte at Coffeewerk + Press in Galway City!

img_2396Coffeewerk was such a cool space!

After our morning shopping in Galway, and because we were spending two nights, we planned an afternoon SPA DAY (!!!) at the Shore Island Spa at the Loughrea Hotel and Spa, just outside of Galway City.  We decided on a Couples Afternoon package, which included a massage, facial, the Rasul Mud Chamber (which is something I never need to do, ever again), and 90 minutes in the Thermal Relaxation Suite, which had saunas, steam rooms, a jacuzzi, and two relaxation rooms, one dark, with color lights all over the ceiling, and one light, overlooking the gorgeous Lough Rea.

It was a wonderful few hours, and a nice period where we could stop, breathe, and reflect on our beautiful vacation.

When we got back to Galway, we parked our car back at the B&B and walked the 10 minutes into Galway City. ¬†Our new friend Darren (the Irish Whiskey aficionado) recommended we visit Garavan’s, the bar he manages. ¬†We ran into our OTHER new friend Sjef, behind the bar, who recommended a few places to eat. ¬†Both Sjef and the other bartender recommended a pub called Blakes Bar, a lovely little pub attached to a restaurant called Brasserie on the Corner, with a small, artisanal menu. ¬†Holly and I shared everything, Chili and Sesame chicken wings (which came in a giant bowl and the wings were covered in the sweet, spicy chili and sesame sauce), an Irish Cheese Board (BECAUSE WHY NOT?) and a Beef Burger. ¬†We figured if our night was going to be anything like the night before (beer emoji beer emoji beer emoji winking face emoji) we wanted to make sure our bellies were full.

The food was great, but our experience was made perfect by our server, James. ¬†He was just as knowledgeable as Darren (and had been to some whiskey conferences with him) and well versed in all the Irish Whiskeys on the menu. ¬†He made some suggestions, and we ordered the¬†Powers John’s Lane, a 12 year old Single Pot Still, aged in both bourbon and sherry casks which is named after the address of the original Powers distillery. ¬†It was smooth, with dark fruits, caramel, vanilla and toffee. ¬†Here’s how it went down… ¬†Holly Kay: “I’d like that on the rocks.” ¬†James: “Nooooooooo…” ¬†So he brought them out neat, and we enjoyed them neat, and it was an absolutely lovely accompaniment to our full meal.

Our expectations on this trip were to experience some of the quintessential Irish hospitality, and James at Blake’s Bar went above and beyond our expectations, chatting with us about whiskey (as Darren had the night before), and what we’d done on our trip so far. ¬†He turned what was an already good meal into a wonderful experience. ¬†And now we’re friends on Facebook (I’m not creepy!!) ¬†Cheers, James!

We then headed back to Garavan’s, and¬†went with one of Darren and Alan’s suggestions from the night before, Green Spot, another Single Pot Still, with flavors of vanilla, citrus, and mint. ¬†We caught the end of some live music, which was great Craic!

Live Music at Garavans! (apologies for the vertical video, it was a Facebook Live)

img_2385Christmas came early in Galway!

img_2384It was cold outside, but it was Nut Hot in here!

After Garavans, we went to the Salt House, Galway Bay Brewery‘s other pub in Galway City, and met up again with Alan…img_2394You all remember Alan from last week’s post… ¬†This¬†no-longer-bearded beauty and his GBB family raised nearly 10,000 Euro for Galway Hospice, and you can still donate HERE!

We met up with Alan and his wife Danielle, and Laurien (whose husband Will is the head brewer for GBB)… ¬†Laurien and Will are transplants from Georgia, and it was fun that my Mississippi gal got to hang out with another southerner!

img_2393‘Allo Harvey! ¬†This little gal belongs to Alan and Danielle! ¬†What a face!!

Wait, so, this is a blog about beer?

Alright, let’s get to it…

As soon as we arrived, Alan greeted us, and said to Holly Kay, “I know more than anybody when you hit that wall… ¬†And last night, at around 11pm, I noticed that you’d hit that wall. ¬†And when I woke up this morning, I felt kind of bad for ya…” ¬†Holly said “Don’t feel bad!¬†¬†We had an amazing time!” ¬†Apparently, Alan, Darren, and Sjef¬†left Lonergan’s and headed to… ¬†Where else? ¬†The Casino! ¬†These guys are professionals, and have way more stamina than I do…

I was handed a glass of Galway Bay Brewery’s Full Sail IPA (which I spoke about in last week’s post), which is a balanced, citrusy wonderland of Irish fun…

img_2387I drank x2 of these… ¬†Trolltunga by Buxton Brewing¬†from England,¬†in collaboration with Lervig Brewery in Norway. ¬†This was a sour IPA, with tart, tropical peach, grapefruit, and pine. ¬†Absolutely unreal stuff. ¬†Alan was so excited about it (he was drinking it when we got there) and it was wonderful.

img_2386My Dad’s favorite beer! ¬†So nice to see some US craft on draught!

img_2388Holly ordered the Buxton Brewery Extra Porter, brewed with Guatemalan Coffee… ¬†Super bitter, roasty chocolate, coffee, dark cherries, floral, smokey. ¬†Another fantastic brew. ¬†We’ve got to find our way to England to try more of their beer!

We were so happy to be able to spend time with our new friend, Alan, and to have met Danielle and Laurien. ¬†Galway is a magical city, and that was only emphasized by all the hospitality we experienced while we were there. ¬†We’ll absolutely be back (Alan, you got a spare room?)

Until next time!

Cheers!

Galway Bay Brewery and the Beard Off Fundraiser, or, How We Made New Beer Friends Across the Atlantic Sea!!

Hello, friends!

***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.

img_2298 Come on!img_2263 Come on!img_2314I mean, COME ON!!

giphy

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.

img_2378Galway City

img_2379Holly 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 Poit√≠n, 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!

img_2398

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.

img_2368Alan 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?  ūüėČ

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…

img_2371It’s Dough Bros, Bro!

img_2372Holly 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…

img_2375Proper 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!

Cheers!