Friday, November 21, 2008

No Blues in the Porterhouse

On our trip to Ireland last weekend, there was only one thing which was an absolute must as far as I was concerned, visiting one of the Porterhouse brewpubs whilst in Dublin on the Friday. I had heard much about their Oyster Stout and Wrasslers XXXX, and was hoping that they still had some of the their seasonally brewed Alt. Coming into Dublin on the bus from Westmeath took about an hour through some lovely countryside and past a plethora of houses that if I had the money I would buy at the drop of a hat. My first impressions of the city were that it reminded me a several other places that I like, in particular Limoges and Glasgow.

Having strolled around the centre for a few hours I suggested that we find somewhere to sit down and have a coffee or similar - admittedly I only made this suggestion once I had spied the Porterhouse Central. The pub put me in mind of the classic image of a New York bar, dark with a long bar, I liked it, and so headed to the bar to get some sustenance in the form of a pint of Alt, which was still on tap much to my delight, and it was a nice example of the style, perhaps a little thin in the body but it had the right combination of malty sweetness and refreshing drinkability.
The one I was most looking forward though was the Oyster Stout, and as I said to Beer Nut on Monday, I was a little disappointed. I had heard so many good things about this beer and so was expecting great things. It is isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, it is just that perhaps I had stretched my imagination too far and even ambrosia wouldn't have lived up to its reputation. What it is though is a nicely dark and flavourful stout.

No problems however though with the Wrasslers XXXX, which is a reproduction of an old time stout which was apparently the drink of choice of Michael Collins, and what great taste in beer he must have had. The aroma of hops and coffee were teasing my nose as I carried my pint back to the table, urging me to dive on in and enjoy. Enjoy it I most certainly did, full on roasted coffee and liquorice flavours, wonderfully dry and with a long finish. The Porterhouse website say that this was beer like your grandfather drank - makes me wish all the more I had known him in that case!
With about half an hour to go before meeting up with our host's husband to head back to Westmeath, I squeezed in a pint of Plain Porter. I was starting to wonder about porters, not being a big fan of the examples I had tried already, too much soy sauce in the nose and taste for my liking. Plain was a different beast altogether, easy drinking, with light roasted flavours and a slight touch of burnt toffee. Given more time I would have have been alternating between this and the Wrasslers.

One thing though which stands out in my memory was an old fella sat on the table next to us who ordered a whiskey and water, which came already mixed - a big no no. When the barman had gone, having ever so gently been put in his place, the old fella began to talk about how the job of a barman in the modern world has become so devalued - was interesting to sit and listen to his stories (bad habit of mine is earwigging!).

So that was our wonderful trip to Ireland, the fulfilment of a long held dream. Sláinte!

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, Oyster gets an inappropriate amount of good press, mostly because people think Irish stout isn't supposed to taste of much.

    Wrasslers is definitely where it's at, though Michael Collins would never have been drinking anything with a head like that on it, nor your grandfather when he was in the pub prior to 1960.

    I honestly don't think Plain counts, technically, as a porter. I think they just wanted to give their basic stout an old-fashioned name.


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