Thursday, May 01, 2014

Imbibing in Ireland

Ireland is known for how green it is and how much its people drink. The first is definitely true; Ireland is as green as you imagine. The second? Well, there is certainly enough alcohol available to drink to your heart's content and they are clearly proud of their spirited heritage.

First of all, Guinness is everywhere. Small neon signs advertise it in nearly every pub window. It's in stews and desserts. There is a huge shrine to it known as the Guinness Storehouse with a self-guided tour and plenty of historical memorabilia (and also plenty of gimmicky souvenirs to fill up valuable room in your suitcase). Not to mention the chance to learn how to really pour a pint. Which they give you a certificate for that, in turn, gives you the ability to be smug to people who haven't learned this important life skill.

I heard from people on both sides of the Atlantic that Guinness tastes different in Ireland. Apparently it doesn't travel well. It's been a while since I've had any over here, so I couldn't compare, but it goes down easily enough. And it's the perfect drink to celebrate a new tattoo with.

There are some other Irish beers, believe it or not. The only other one we really got to experience comes from Dingle Brewing Company - Crean's. It's new and small and quaint. Their fermentation tanks are about a quarter the size of Deschutes' and made of wood. I didn't have the chance to enjoy my sample pint because of the stupid tonsillitis but they were nice enough to send me home with a bottle.

I didn't realize how much the Irish like hard cider, but it is also found all over the island. I lost track of how many different kinds there are and I only sampled about three. One thing to note is that no matter what you order, it will be served in its own glass. You order a Guinness, the glass has the name and logo. If you ordered a Corona, you'd find the Corona label on your glass. Same with the cider. It's a pretty good marketing ploy.

Now, what I was really waiting for was the whiskey. I mean, drinking fecking Guinness in fecking Ireland was fecking grand, but I'm a whiskey girl. Luckily, my first whiskey was at the Jameson distillery in Dublin. There is really nothing like a Jameson Manhattan. It's delicious. I think it's the cold Irish air that makes it so much better. Or I was thirsty. Or it's just a damn fine whiskey.

We also toured the Bushmills distillery which was cool because they let us walk right through the factory where we saw the assembly lines for labeling and boxing. I've never seen so much booze in one room before. It made me a little dizzy with joy. And of course there was the free drink at the end. Oh, happy day.

Unfortunately, the stupid tonsillitis ended my fun here. If you go, please drink 10 pints and a  few bottles for me. Trust me, there's enough for everyone.


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