Monday, March 28, 2005

Dr. J's Excellent European Beer Adventure

Last blog, I made mention of an opportunity that allowed me to work in Ireland for about a year and a half. In 2002, a close friend of mine, who practiced chiropractic in Dublin, invited me to join his business as a partner. Just as I was considering the business venture, I was appointed as chiropractic liaison to the World Health Organization. Seeing this as a great way to drink many different beers at their source, I jumped at the chance. No, seriously, this was my way of giving back to the profession and to allow myself the time for personal and professional growth. Oh, who am I kidding? This was a great opportunity to drink beer in different countries.

I ventured overseas and made my home in the Donnybrook section of Dublin. I lived for the weekly rugby matches and pints of Guinness in some of the best pubs in the area. My local (the term for your neighborhood pub) was Kiely's, home of the Leinster professional rugby team, which was just a few meters from Leinster's Donnybrook rugby stadium. I made a point of trying to visit different pubs in the area each weekend. Some of my favorites were Toners, Doheney & Nesbits and Donaghues on Baggot Street. The Stag's Head was another great pub, named for the huge stag's head mounted over the bar. These pubs were off the tourist path and were where the Dublinites hung out. The Guinness flowed through the beer lines with such frequency, it was not uncommon to see the Guinness delivery truck out front each morning. It was in these pubs that I could taste the difference in a pint of Guinness compared to the USA pint. The freshness you hear so much about was a fact in these pubs.

The typical Irish pub in Dublin had a few different beers on tap. Imported beers like Budweiser and Miller( Ha! and expensive too!) with the two standard European Imports, Heineken and Carlsburg. Add your Five taps of Guinness, a few Smithwick's Irish Ale taps, if you were lucky a Kilkenny Irish ale and that was about it. One or two pubs would have the German wheat beer favorite, Erdinger. In my opinion, it seemed most of the younger Irish would drink Lagers like Bud and Carlsburg and even a lot of Bulmers (a hard apple cider on tap), while the older gents would drink pints of Guinness. Budweiser markets their advertising overthere just as much as they do here. And I guess it is working. As for me, even though Guinness is my favorite brew, man cannot live on Guinness alone. This led me to my search for different beers.

Every now and then your mouth screams for a good lager. I wasn't about to start drinking mass made USA beer or even the Danish brands. That is when I found the star. Stella Artois from Belgium is probably one of the best lagers you could put your lips on. It is fairly common in most Dublin pubs, a few even have it on tap. My chant of "Stella, Stella" (think Brando in On the Waterfront) has gotten me through many a lager draught. Finding Stella Artois pointed me next in the direction of Czechoslovakia. It turns out, Dublin beer stores carry a fair number of Czech Pilsners. I was even able to drink the fabled Budweiser from the city of Budweis, not to be confused with Budweiser from the city of St. Louis. I never made it to Czechoslovakia or its main city, Prague, but after drinking so many of their native brews, it is now one of my must visit places.

The summer weather in Dublin is not what I would call summery. A hot day would be around 70 degrees F. When those days pop up you have to make make sure you have a huge glass of German wheat beer. As I mentioned, Erdinger wheat beer is the most popular Weiss beer and is one of the best. The Whole in the Wall pub located on the back wall of Phoenix Park, Dublin's answer to NY's Central Park, is the best place to go on a sunny, not so hot, summer day. The Whole in the Wall is named for the actually whole in the wall in the pub. The pub used to be a speakeasy and beers were passed through the hole in the wall. The pub butts up to Phoenix Park and the patrons grab their beers and go sit in the park on blankets, play frisbee and just lounge around. It's pretty funny, as the bar staff have to walk in the park to get their beer glasses back into the pub. The Erdinger is on tap and just goes great with the park atmosphere. The pub itself is pretty cool, as they have a carvery open all day. Carvery is the term the Irish use for buffet with hot carved meats, potatoes and vegetables. It is a gigantic plate of food, as good as moms, for only about 10 bucks. Local musicians show up at the pub and drink pints while "jamming" Irish folk songs or cover music. It is a very fun day.

That pretty much covers Dublin's beer scene except for two important items. One is the Brew Pubs. Dublin has two. Messrs. Maquires is right on the river off of O'Connell Street. This pub is awesome. The beers are all incredible, the view is great and the food is just as good. It is a very old pub, 4 stories high with good atmosphere. They brew a bitter that is out of this world. The Porter House at the end of the Temple Bar district brews their own beer and serves over 100 different beers of the world. This place is a beer lovers paradise. The Porter House makes an Oyster Stout ( Brewed with real oysters) that is probably one of the best stouts on the planet. It goes with out saying that a dish of fresh oysters, which they have, goes along great with their stout.

Lastly, you haven't been to Dublin unless you have experienced one of the Australian bars. Well actually, they cover all of the southern hemisphere including New Zealand, and South Africa. The two main pubs are the Down Under, off of Grafton St. and the Outback (not the USA chain) attached to the movie complex. The Down Under is really down under. It is in a basement. Both pubs are really good, but I prefer the Down Under. They serve all the real Australian beers ( Not Fosters) as well as South African and New Zealand varieties. It is a really fun place to go as it is filled with Australians. The Aussies are a great bunch. Never met one I didn't have a blast with. You wouldn't believe how the place is when one of the Southern Hemisphere Countries are playing rugby. A very wild time. The crowd is crazy and full of fun and booze!

Next blog, I will continue my adventure and tell you all about the other countries I visited and the beers that I drank.


At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bring your excellent beer to the pitch on Saturday, ya wanker!
Keep the hammie in check!

At 5:24 AM, Blogger indie said...

Did you ever check out a pint in grogans?sweet..

At 12:48 AM, Anonymous Staffan said...

Come to Gothenburg/Sweden and try out the new fantastic beer
Prippklubbens Starkpilsner
(Strongpilsner of the Prippclub)
A beer made for goods!

At 9:46 AM, Blogger Ro said...

Dude you should come to India especially Bangalore and down some chill kingfisher beer.

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