Mrs Velkyal and I got back from our trip to Ireland last night, so the rest of the this week will probably be dedicated to our 4 days there. I am sure that chronology will go right out the window, but there we go. Yesterday we spent the day in Dublin, having arrived in the city from Westmeath at about 8 in the morning, the first thing on our agenda was breakfast - perhaps a slightly strange thing to mention on a blog about beer, but I was so impressed by the little cafe we found that it deserves a mention here. Just off O'Connell Street is a place called The Earl, which does various forms of Irish breakfast, as well as cakes and pastries. For just €11 I had the full works: 2 bacon rashers, 2 sausages, black pudding, white pudding, hash brown mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, toast and a pot of tea. Fantastic!
Suitably fed, Mrs Velkyal had a lighter breakfast, we wandered around the streets of the city centre, eventually heading over to Temple Bar and the city's medieval heart to find the Bull and Castle, where we were due to meet up with the Beer Nut, Adeptus and Thom for a few pints, although unfortunately Thom couldn't make it. When the pub eventually opened, and we got some respite from the rain, we got in, sat down opposite the bar and ordered our first beers. Mrs Velkyal went for the Galway Hooker, more of which later in the week, while I opted for the Castle Red, which was rather nice - I wasn't taking notes so I going from memory here.
Next up for me was the Rebel Lager, a lovely golden lager which would more than hold its own in the Czech Republic, yes it is that good - it is amazing sometimes that people still drink slop like Carling and Carlsberg when there is good lager being made by the smaller breweries. I would actually put this on a par with Budvar in the flavour and body stakes, and I am a big fan of the golden nectar from Southern Bohemia.
I have to say now that I love beer people. People that I have met as a result of Fuggled and my beer drinking/learning experiences have universally been warm, interesting, informed and generous, and yesterday was no different, the bottle of Porterhouse Celebration Stout that Beer Nut gave me now has pride of place in the Little Cellar.
Given that the Bull and Castle is the only place in Ireland that we found with such a wide selection of microbrew beers, I have to confess that I started on a mission to try as many as I could, and that I hadn't already had - so for example I left the Galway Hooker alone as I had in Galway. An interesting experiment for me was to try the difference between O'Hara's Celtic Stout on draught, if I remember rightly it was a nitro-tap, and in the bottle. First up was the tap, and it looked pretty much as you expect an Irish Stout to look, dark, tight creamy head. In drinking it was smooth with coffee notes, a bit of chocolate and a dry finish - a very nice pint, Mrs Velkyal agreed. Bottle conditioned however was a completely different story - it was simply magnificent, you can see the difference in the picture, but the explosion of smells and tastes which are missing in the draught version was frankly quite shocking - a much, much better beer, and I was so glad to find a box set of all the Carlow Brewing Company beers in the airport so I could bring a bottle home.
Next up was Clotworthy Dobbin - which came very highly recommended by both Adeptus and the Beer Nut. Wow this was a lovely drink! As you can see from the picture, it is a dark red, what you can't see however is the full on cocoa and chocolate nose and the smooth, silky feeling of the toffee tasting beer in the mouth. The Beer Nut asked me which was the best Irish beer I had drunk over the weekend - a tie between this and Galway Hooker. To round off lunch I tried the light and refreshing Blarney Blonde, from the makers of the Rebel Lager, and it was a nice way to clean off my palate in preparation for the flight back to Prague.
I can think of few better ways to spend a couple of hours than drinking with fellow beer bloggers, and I hope they enjoy the beer I brought them as much as I enjoyed the beers they recommended, the excellent pub we had them in and the good company Mrs Velkyal and I thoroughly appreciated. Cheers lads!