Part of the fun of beer travel is just getting there, which is another way of saying we’ll be packing plenty of brews as we make our way across Ireland.
After three days in Dublin, we’ll travel southwest through County Kildare toward Cork. Along the way, we’ll be hitting several attractions and, of course, a brewery or two. Expect plenty of beer talk, a bottle share and more.
Why don’t you join me? Our excursion departs in October 2016 – book now!
Meanwhile, read on for more on the beer scene in Cork, Ireland, and quick look at Ireland’s most famous beer style
Starting at $2349 per person plus airfare
Or call Susan Wolfson at Go Astro Travel
- The horse country of County Kildare
- Dualla House sheep and grain farm
- The historic streets of Cork
Brewery Tour – Eight Degrees
We’ll hit this very small brewery during a day of countryside touring that will take us to a sheep farm and a tea shop. Though it’s become an Irish craft beer darling, the brewhouse is actually run by a pair of guys from Australia and New Zealand.
You’ll want to grab bottles of Howling Gale pale ale, Knockmealdown Irish Stout, and 2014 World Beer Cup medal winner, Amber Ella American Amber Ale.
Brewery Tour – The Franciscan Well and Brewery
Founded in 1998 by Irish craft beer pioneer Shane Long, this highly regarded brewpub was built on the site along the Cork River of an old monastery that dates back to 1219. Later – much later – it was the location for one of Guinness’s bottling plants.
Today, it’s making lager, ale, wheat beer and, naturally, a fine black stout, and Summer Saison as the best pale ale in the world – all served in a beautiful (heated) beer garden.
- Castle Cafe – Located in the courtyard of 19th-century Blackrock Castle, this pub features house brews from well-regarded Elbow Lane.
- Electric – I love the spirit of this place, where the owner says, “If three or more people ask for a beer we don’t have, I order it to see if it sells.”
- Franciscan Well Premium Stout – Aged in Jamesons whiskey casks. (And, keep your eyes peeled for new Jamesons Irish Whiskey Caskmates, aged in Franciscan Well stout casks.)
- Eight Degrees The Full Irish – Made entirely with Irish malt, this IPA won the 2015 Beer of the Year award from Beoir, the Irish beer advocacy group.
- Sherkin Lass – A pale ale from the West Cork nanobrewery.
- KPA Black IPA – Brewed by a husband-wife team at Blacks of Kinsale.
Or call Susan Wolfson at Go Astro Travel
Dry Irish stout tastes like Guinness, everyone knows that. The question is: What does Guinness taste like?
Over 250 years, Dublin’s famous stout has evolved and morphed so many times, it’s impossible to get a handle on the ale. Double Stout, Double Extra Stout, Special Export Stout, Foreign Extra Stout, Special Light Stout – Guinness has had more updates than Microsoft Windows.
Take the phenomenally popular Extra Stout, the draft whose pour they call the Perfect Pint. Smooth and roasty and dry, it’s remarkably satisfying for an ale that barely tips the scales at about 4 percent alcohol. It’s so low in calories, its owner, Diageo, once issued press releases bragging that, ounce for ounce, Guinness Stout has fewer calories than skimmed milk.
Yet, in the mid-19th century, this very same brand – the one would eventually epitomize dear, quaffable, session-like Irish stout – buoyed the hydrometer to 1.074 original gravity. Don’t bother pulling out your calculator; that’s barleywine territory. Which is to say, if the original Irish stout were to be submitted to an Irish stout judging panel, it would end up in the bucket with the rest of the losers.
The changing nature of Guinness, and thus this style, shouldn’t be a surprise because, says author Bill Yenne, the original Irish stout itself was the product of evolution.
“Arthur Guinness didn’t create the style,” said Yenne, who chronicled the brewery’s history in Guinness: The 250-Year Quest for the Perfect Pint. “You’ve got to remember, brewers were making it up as they went along. The style has a family tree with many branches, and they all go way back before Guinness.”
If anything, it begins with porter, the dark ale attributed to English brewer Ralph Harwood, circa 1722. As with India pale ale, porter brewers made stiffer export versions – more alcohol, more hops – to survive the long journey to the colonies. In the 1820s, Guinness would begin brewing Extra Superior Porter – a stronger porter, a stout porter. “Stout was an adjective,” said Yenne. “It was a porter, but more so.”
What did that beer taste like? It was probably something like today’s hard-to-find Guinness Foreign Export Stout, said Yenne: rich and strong (7 percent abv) and bittersweet, a far cry from what these days we call an Irish stout.
What’s the Guinness taste like in Ireland? We’ll find out on Joe Sixpack’s Beer & Whiskey Tour, with a stop at a few authentic Irish pubs… and a visit to the Dublin brewery itself.Share