I have recently arrived in Belgium with a ten-hour stop over in Dublin, Ireland. As soon as I realized that Dublin was the home of Guinness beer I had to visit the brewery. I actually had no idea what else existed in Dublin; other than funny talking, ginger-headed, drunken Catholics.
Upon arriving at the customs check in Dublin, at 830am,(Guinness opens at 930am) I noticed all of the above to be true. Customs agents looking as though they had a few too many Jameson’s the night before while leaning on one elbow, haphazardly allowed me in there wee little country with little more than a nod of the head and a new stamp for the passport. After receiving a map of Dublin from information and enough Euros to accomplish the task at hand, I was on my way via city bus to Dublin’s city center.
My experience with Guinness can be linked to everyone’s favorite holiday, St.Patrick’s day and the occasional night out with an Irish Car Bomb (that’s British run Northern Ireland that is still disputed and has the sporadic bombing to put their pommie occupiers in check) So no worries about Dublin and car bombs, I think…I followed the lovely, unnaturally colored, green Liffey River through the city and alleyways until finally arriving at a sign that looked as though it could have been put there by anyone looking to rob tourists. It was legit. Minutes later I was standing in front of the famous St. James Gate Brewery-and it’s gate.
For 15 euros you get six floors of self guided tour that includes the history, brewing process and a chance to learn “The Perfect Pour”. Having opted for the latter option, because it was 945am, I had not eaten a thing and had little strength to walk two more floors, I poured my own Guinness. Apparently there are six-steps to “The Perfect Pour”, we were fast tracked to the two-step process, due to lack of care from our guide. Having quickly diminished the contents of my glass, I walked the remaining flights of stairs to the Gravity Bar. It is a roof-top bar with 360 degree views of Dublin that does NOT sell beer.
After being told I had to walk back down to purchase an additional beer, I quickly did so. By now it was roughly 1145am, conveniently 15 minutes BEFORE the cash bar opened. So you come to a fabled, far off land where fairies have brewed beer for thousands of years to find out that the bar does not open until noon, WTF!
Becoming increasingly hungry I asked the barkeep for any recommendations on where to get an additional pint and a bite to eat. His response came
without hesitation; so to make sure I heard him right I repeated it to him; “The Bison Head”? Frustratingly he said no and repeated his response slowly and with inflection, “The Brazen Head”. He then gave me directions down the street and around the corner-I got lost but was assured by a friendly drunken gentleman that I was on the right street. And so I was. Easily missed but never forgotten, The Brazen Head is Ireland’s oldest pub, having been established in the year 1198. Your visit to the pub begins through an archway that was once the back alley, with a wall of beer kegs stacked awaiting to be replaced or consumed. Obviously it must be far different than when first established but my interests were in the food. I studied the menu and quickly found the Guinness Irish Stew, yes it has Guinness in it. Drinking a Guinness while eating Guinness stew is something I highly recommend while in Dublin, as if you could actually miss out on it.
So to call Dublin a place of wonder I would have to have visited something other than a Brewery and pub, but while walking along the river and riding in public transportation I could see that this is a place where one could make their home.
This weeks brewery experience:
Recommended for the beer and tour quality. Next time on Beers Of the World: Cologne, Germany.
Coming in the next few weeks: You decide where I go. I have options people, where do you want me to go?
Hoeggarden? Stella Artois? Trappist Beer with monks?Amsterdam?