Thursday, December 22, 2011

Xmas Beers

Contents of beer fridge

As regular readers of this blog will know I have spent the last year and a bit commuting for work to Edinburgh. While this is a major pain in the ass there are compensations. Firstly Edinburgh is a cracking town, with lots of great bars and restaurants; it may have a cracking nightlife too but I'm too old and lazy to find out. Secondly, there is lots of ale there. Not just the "twigs in your beard" real ale, but loads of IPAs (India Pale Ales), stouts, porters and everything in between.

Pretty much every bar has one or more "Guest Ales" plus whatever ales are Brewery mandated. The Haymarket bar near me, has a rotating selection of about eight "Guest Ales", with the result that every visit is a voyage of discovery. In Ireland, with a few notable exceptions (go Porterhouse!), there is very little decent ( non mass-produced) beer  available on draught.

There has certainly been an increase in the availability of "Craft Beers" in off licences and to a lesser extent Supermarkets recently, but the selection in most pubs is poor at best. I know when we go out for a jar in Embra we will walk out of any pub that doesn't have at least one decent ale (or hoppy Lager - see below).

I wonder is there a gap in the Irish market for some decent draught Ale? Perhaps the cost of storing/serving cask conditioned ales is prohibitive compared to cooled, pasteurised mass produced beer? I did try Smithwicks Irish Pale Ale and while it was a noble effort I found it a bit fizzy, cold and mild compared to what I was used to in Auld Reekie.

Anyhoo - ramble/rant over. I have had a lot of beer related thoughts rumbling round my melon for a while and wanted to put them down on "paper". I ended up with some time to kill in Carrickmines this morning, for a variety of reasons, so I popped into O'Briens with a view to stocking up with some festive beer.

Note1: I'm not  a Beer snob (OK, maybe a little), but I'll drink just about any beer put in front of me, apart from those terrible watery US lagers (Bud, Coors, Miller etc); it might be an idea to put them through the horse a second time...

Note2: As evidence of this see bottles of Vitamin H in picture above, I do like me a cold 'ken on occasion. However I'd never drink it after any of the below as it probably wouldn't compare well.

Anyway, this what I done did get...

From Harviestoun Brewery
Schiehallion Lager (€2.99 50cl) - A very hoppy/fruity beer that I didn't believe was a lager for ages. Like no other Lager you'll taste, a favourite of mine on draught in Scotland.

Bitter and Twisted (€2.69 50cl) - Another magnificent beer, this time a hoppy golden "Blond"ale.

From Brew Dog Brewery
Punk IPA (€2.40 33cl) - Hoppy, fruity and fantastic; a fuller, stronger iteration of their Trashy Blonde (IMHO).

77 Lager (€2.15 33cl) - Another full, flavoursome hoppy lager.
Note3: They do a red ale "5am Saint", which is a dry-hopped masterpiece.

Budjovicky Budvar (€2.99 - 50cl) - The real deal from the Czech Republic. Apparently I am a "legend" for drinking six bottles one night in the Orchard and not being off my head, but I don't remember...

Grolsch (8x50 cl cans for €10) - of all the mass produced lagers, this, (and Becks) are probably my favourites and 8 for a tenner is damn good value.


  1. Both L.Mulligan Grocer ( in Stoneybatter and Against The Grain ( on Wexford Street do a great selection of Craft Beers on draught.

    Happy Christmas.

  2. As does The Bull and Castle, The Palace, Farringtons and so on....
    Check out the directory and if you have an iPhone, download the beoir app. You will never be at a loss for decent beer in Dublin again. Covers the whole Island but of course the cities will have much better choice.
    And while you are at it, Drinkstore in Stoneybatter (opposite Mulligans) has an awesome selection. And they deliver (

  3. Thanks for the info guys. My ignorance of the pubs above is probably a function of my working abroad and being a lazy git to boot...