Ok, so what's the most obvious, cliched bit about the Irish?
That they're drunk all the time. Well, with baby in tow, we didn't exactly go out and get sloshed at night - our drinking was more of the stop and have a pint 2 or 3 different places during the day while driving around. So, I did very little whiskey drinking and more beer drinking.
Guinness - yeah, it's the gold standard over there. To be honest, I didn't taste that much of a difference over a proper draft poured in the states - Sure it's better, but it's not ambrosia compared to our swill. What is different is that everyone pours it properly, with the right temperature, head, and time to pour - almost two minutes - no one half-asses the pint, it's good every time.
We did the tourist tour of the St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin - which is tucked way in the middle of a huge, sketchy industrial area in the middle of the city - and to be honest, it was a lot better than I thought it would be. Sure, there's a lot of BS about Arthur Guinness being a paragon, genius, and savior of the Irish, instead of just a big-time brewer - but there's a lot of historical bits and nuggets in the tour, and the Gravity Bar, where you get your comped pint and a 360 view of the city, is worth the stop all by itself.
One thing I was able to taste there was a couple of bottles of Foreign Extra Stout, which isn't distributed in the U.S. 7.5% ABV and very tasty, much different than the standard draft. I only brought one bottle back, though... :-(
Pretty good actually, a nice option for a stout if you're tired of getting Guinness all the time. While I've had Guinness and Murphy's, I haven't bothered to notice Beamish before. I'm sure beer aficionados can split the difference between the two, but in reality, they both are dry stouts with similar characteristics. Since it's brewed in Cork, Ireland's second-largest city, I'm sure this is a regional preference as much as anything else.
Murphy's - decidedly different stout from Guinness and Beamish. lighter, less head, supposedly sweeter.. and I really didn't care for it in comparison with the other stouts.
In the non-stout category...
Smithwick's - Since Jenn isn't a big fan of stouts - she likes Harp, but it wasn't on tap in everwhere we stopped - she ended up having this ale more often than not. Solid, very similar to our pale ales. We were in Kilkenny and wanted to do a tour of the original brewery, since it's on an old Franciscan Abbey site - but they weren't open before we had to leave.. :-(
Of course, by now everything's owned by a multinational conglomerate - Diageo, Heineken, whatever - speaking of which...
Budwieser Ice Cold - LOLOLOL. This was advertised all over the place in Dublin, on buses, and in bars. Gee, what is it? As near as I can tell, standard Budweiser at 1 C, poured out of special taps to keep it ice cold. Gotta love marketing.
To come, all sorts of driving fun. and a look at where we actually went in Ireland...
53 minutes ago