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?  😘

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. 🇮🇪)


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 😜)

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

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 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!

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?  😉

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!

Brewery Corner, or, This Was the First Time We Ate Pizza in Ireland, and it Wouldn’t be the Last…

Holly Kay and I arrived at the Aspect Hotel in Kilkenny after barely sleeping on the overnight flight into Dublin, and spending the whole day in Dublin City, followed by an hour and 30 minute drive.  We were basically zombies, but decided to go to a place we had looked at on Trip Advisor called Brewery Corner.  It seemed fitting.  Winky face.

Irish Craft Beer in the heart of Kilkenny!
We were hoping to find somewhere that wasn’t too loud or crowded, and were relieved when it was relatively quiet, with a young Irish lassie, called Bad Poster Girl, singing folk covers near the fireplace in the front of the Pub.

Holly and I were warmly greeted by the bartender, who pointed out the food menu (three or four different types of pizza) and explained the Irish Craft Beer-heavy menu.   There were about 5 or 6 O’Hara’s (brewed by Carlow Brewing Company, who also own the pub), and a handful of other brews…  I remember seeing a Pumpkin Brew from Trouble Brewing, located in Kill, Ireland (yup, that’s a real place), and a few others.

I ordered from their extensive bottle menu, featuring craft beer from all over the world.

First up for myself was YellowBelly Beer Gose to Leipzig, a salty sour ale from this Wexford, Ireland Brewery.  

When I ordered it, the bartender responded, “The Gose?  Braaaave man.  I think it’s the only beer that makes a man thirstier!”  

It was pale golden in color, 4.5% alcohol, and actually a lot saltier than most Gose’s I’ve had.  After a wave of salt, beautiful orange and lemon zest citrus came through, leaving you wanting another sip!  Great stuff!

Holly had an O’Hara’s Irish Stout, which had a heartier mouthfeel and more defined chocolate and coffee than, you know, that other beer I wrote about here

Holly Kay and I shared a 12″ pizza, which was just enough to satisfy us after the long day.  It was a fine pizza, but we’re spoiled New Yorkers, but also, we’ll eat any junky food if we’re hungry enough, and also also, we love all pizza no matter what.  So it was perfect for where we were at that very moment in time, listening to covers of Death Cab For Cutie and The Decemberists.

Next up was Brown Paper Bag Project Aul Bruin Bagger, a 6.4% Sour Brown Ale.  It hits you with delicious berry and apple, makes you pucker just a little bit, with enough malt backbone to balance out the tartness.  Great stuff, and, while both this and the Gose are sour, they’re two wildly different brews, and delicious in their own right.
If you ever find yourself in Kilkenny (and you should and I’ll tell you why…  Two Words.  Butter Slip.) you need to head over to Brewery Corner and tell them Benedict Beer Blog sent ya!

It’s quite like something out of Harry Potter.  And look how cute Holly Kay is!

Butter Slip is, as advertised, VERY slippy.
And remember to love one another.  Let’s love each other harder through the difficult times.  That’s all I’ll say.

Until next time, Cheers!

Guinness Storehouse, or, How Holly Kay and Patrick Showed Off Their Former Bartending Skills (And Received the Certificates to Prove It!)

From my Sexy Posing in Front of Breweries series…

Hi all!  Update #1 from beautiful, sunny then suddenly rainy Ireland!  We are safely in Kilkenny, about to have our second breakfast on this unbelievably green island, and today, we’re going Full Irish (get your mind outta the gutter…)!  I wanted to share some photos from our trip to the Guinness Storehouse yesterday!  

Holly and I opted to pour our own Perfect Pints, as the Gravity Bar (with a 360 degree view of the city of Dublin) was filled with loud, obnoxious Americans, “I’M FINE ON THE STAIAHS (stairs)!  I DON’T NEED TO WAIT FAH (for) YEW (you)!!”  A grandmother yelled to her family members.  

This was the only photo I could get without a bunch of strangers in it.  But check out the top of that guy’s head!

There’s a lot of money in the Guinness Storehouse, its kind of like Walt Disney World, (it’s even got a whole section dedicated to how important water is to beer, and the waterfall smells like Disney water!).

  Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the barley and hops that you’re used to…

A lot of the different videos were outdated, and whatever was supposed to be projected inside the simulated mash tun wasn’t working.  

We saw some great exhibits, though, specifically the advertising section, and the shop was beautifully decorated for Christmas (WE LOVE CHRISTMAS, FA LA LA LA LA, LA LA LA LA!)
Anyway, I won’t blather on.  Here’s some pictures from our experience!  Enjoy!

My gorgeous wife!

Here’s a normal pose!

My lovely!

2 Zombies in Dublin!  (I slept a total of 2.32 hours on the overnight flight…)

Looking up into the barrel!

God’s flower…
For the love of barrels!

Someone left the remains of their Perfect Pint in the bathroom!

My Goodness!

My Guinness!

Holly’s feeling Hoppy!

🙂

This guy looks like all the exit signs in Ireland…

Hiding…

Sipping off the shell of a turtle!

Holly Kay befriending a horse!

The store!  All decorated for Christmas! (FA LA LA LA LA…)

Our Perfect Pints!  Poured ourselves, and with the Certificates to prove it!

No New Blog Post This Week, Or, Actually, There Might Be Several!

Seasonal Creep

Hello, faithful Readers! Usually I put out a new post every Monday or Tuesday.

WELL, NOT THIS WEEK!  OK, BYE!

……

Are you still there?

Cool. There will be posts coming up, probably multiple posts, because PATRICK AND HOLLY KAY ARE TAKING A WING-ED TRAIN, HURTLING THROUGH THE SKY AT SEVERAL HUNDRED MILES AN HOUR, TO THE LAND OF THE EMERALD ISLE, JOLLY OL’ IRELAND!!

So I’ll be posting from time to time as Holly Kay and I discover some new (to us) Irish Craft Beer along our adventures!

I look forward to sharing with you all!

Until next time!

Cheers!

Oh, but this is a blog about Beer. Last night, on All Hallows’ Eve (said in a spooky voice) Holly and I opened our bottle of Moustache Brewing Co. Seasonal Creep!

This is a pumpkin ale that Matt and Lauri released in July (as big distributors are doing with pumpkin ales now) that is designed to be aged 3 months (or more) so the flavors develop and it still tastes amazing even if you open it (as we did) in October or November!

I picked flavors of caramel, cinnamon, clove, cinnamon, and (of course) pumpkin! This beer is super boozy at 10.3% ABV, so it’s a sipper. We enjoyed it while we packed for our trip, which made a usually daunting task, less daunting.


Grim Grinning Ghosts and Seasonal Creep!

See you all very soon!