Posts Tagged With: Beer

My goodness my Guinness, visiting Dublin

Well the final leg of our journey was Dublin, Ireland. I thought since we were ruining our livers anyhow, we might as well do properly and visit the home of Guinness, Jamison’s Irish whiskey and many other fine spirits.

We only had three days in this fine city, and basically our plan was to see the aforementioned breweries and distilleries and then spend the balance of the time find which pub served the best Guinness and offered the most potato side dishes on one plate. I think this was our winner. It was our first meal at a pub called O’Neil’s close to Grafton Street and Temple Bar. This awesome beef stew came with potatoes, carrots, onions and beef plus sides which consisted of roasted, mashed, sweet mashed, and French fried potatoes. I guess these guys really like their potatoes.

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In any event we visited Jamison’s first, the tour was not that bad. Unfortunately unlike the States where most beer and wine tours are mostly free or offered at a very minimal charge, this one was 15 euros per person. The distillery has actually been closed for many years, and they now manufacture in County Cork, in Southern Ireland, but hey this is where it all started. The 30-45 minute visit, consulted of walk through the entire process, as well as a guided tour. My favorite part besides seen “G” get to do a taste test sample between Jamison’s, JAW black and Jack Daniels, was seeing actual barrels that were aged to various years. I believe 1, 3,5, 15 the color difference was truly amazing. Sadly we only got to sample the three year standard variety.

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Eventually we stumbled over to Guinness, and ended up signing up for two different tours. The first was the standard self-guided. They’ve done an amazing job to create a tour you can do at your own pace and see how the product started back in 1779 right at St. James Gate, and how they get to producing in for today’s market. Sadly back in 1981 this facility was closed to brewing, but besides tens of thousands of tourists that descend upon this place to drink, I think they use for distribution.

The seven story tour facility, had several bars serving what else but the lovely black elixir, we are all familiar with but also a few other versions, I had no idea existed. Of course there is Guinness original, Stout, Draught and Foreign Extra Stout. And for all of you that are curious as to whether the draft tastes different in Ireland or is served at room temperature, both of these are myths. Now frankly I don’t have the best palate, but I think the beer tasted exactly the same as it would at my local bar except for two huge exceptions, the first of which is I was drinking it in Ireland and second, it was poured correctly here. Which by the way is exactly 119.5 seconds, sans cloverleaf too.

Our second visit was for the connoisseurs tour, which has to be booked in advance and is a with no more than 25 guest at a time, ours only had six. Plus it’s with a Guinness beer connoisseur, of which they have only six of. Needless to say this is really where I learned about the four main versions of Guinness, some really great history, and of course got to taste them all. Since it was such a private tour, it really helped me understand how important the Guinness family was and is to the city of Dublin let alone Ireland. The family still donates money and land to help better the community, and they really helped shape the city. To top off the visit was a final drink at the Gravity Bar high atop this building, with 360 degree views of the entire city very fitting end to a very very iconic place.

The factory has several restaurants and bars so you won’t go hungry or thirsty, although you need a ticket to get in and they are 15 euros and come with one beer. Oh yeah they have the biggest souvenir store devoted to Guinness I’ve ever seen. If you wanted something emblazoned with the logo, the toucan, or any other iconic figure you’ll find it here. Check out these crazy underwear, and no I didn’t buy them.

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Categories: Beer, Europe, Food, Life, Photography, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oktoberfest: Day 2 and 3

Man cannot live on beer alone, although we really really tired, we also took the opportunity to visit a few sites in central Munich. We visited my favorite beer garden at Viktualien Markt and also Ratzkeller (Der Glockenspiel). Marienplatz is always fun, there’s always something going on whether it be tourists hanging out, people shopping or just enjoying a beer at 10 AM in the beer garden. I still can’t get over that aspect of German life, beer before water and at such an early hour. Viktualien Markt is a really great open air market with tons of food stands (think farmers market) and lots of handy crafts, it’s just a fun place to visit.

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After that we went back to Wiessen, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, “G” and I went back for seconds and even thirds on our quest to drink our way through Oktoberfest. With 34 tents after day two we realized there was no way we would get to see them all so we just focused on the ones we wanted to see and enjoyed the most. That meant we kept ending up at ***it was the best combination of music and revelry that we found. The crown was a mix of young and old, but it was the band that just kept the place rocking and by about 3 PM you found yourself standing on the table with the rest of your new friends singing and drinking along with the other locals and tourists. What a blast.

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Categories: Beer, Europe, Food, Life, Oktoberfest, Photography, Review, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finally here Oktoberfest day 1

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I finally made it to Mecca. Oktoberfest , Munich Germany. We arrived in Germany on the second weekend of this amazing festival of beer. I really really didn’t know what to expect except that I knew there would be a lot of people and a lot of beer. This was the 173 annual festival of Princess Therese’s marriage to King Ludwig.

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I was just amazed at the nationalism that the German locals showed. It seemed most were in lederhosen and dirndls. It was just really really cool to see the pride of a nation at a festival. I really just can’t think of anything here that comes even close. Sure there’s fourth of July and yes fireworks, but people don’t get dressed up in a national outfit let alone just a sense of pride. Even though is great emphasis to beer drinking here, there’s also a huge fair, festival and lots and lots of food too. Think of the state fair times 10.

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Inside the tents was still a pretty crazy site. Most tents hold over 4000 people, although I think there are a few that hold well over 10,000 and many tables are reserved one year in advance for a meal. So when we tried to rent a table for any time during the Wiessen, we were shut out. Which meant we had to find a table that was not reserved and either empty (never such luck), or ask people if we could sit with them. Thankfully we were always able to find someplace to sit, we may have had to ask 3-4 times at different places, but every time we went into a tent we were eventually successful.

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Every tent had an oompah band, and they play classic German songs and even in some cases 80’s one hit wonders too. It was funny though the band really set the mood for the tent. Of the 8-10 tents we checked out, there were 34, the more festive tents were the ones that played a great mix of oompah and songs from Neil Diamond, Gloria Gainer and Credence Clear Water. It was really funny to hear some of these songs in English and then sung in German, I don’t speak a lick of it, but could sing along in English it was just great.

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There was also the occasional person that would stand up and shotgun a Mas of beer (1 liter), in this case the crazy guy finished his first then put the Mas down and grabbed number two, and downed that one with authority. All I can say is wow.

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Paulaner seating chart

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Categories: Beer, Europe, Food, Life, Oktoberfest, Ordinary Life, Photography, Review, The wish list, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

T-Minus Four Weeks

Looking forward to a few of these.

Looking forward to a few of these.

Well drinking season is almost upon us. In T minus 4 weeks I’m heading for Munich and Oktoberfest. As a lifelong lover of hops and barley, going to the ultimate beer celebration has always been high on my list. I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited Germany many times over the years (thanks to having In-Laws that live there), but have never been in town for Oktoberfest. As I’ve mentioned a few times in my blog, the big four oh is coming up in December, and my wife suggested that I make the pilgrimage. There was no way I was going to turn that offer down.

So once the dates were settled upon I started making plans. You see I’m really good about making travel arrangements, but not so great at deciding what to do while on vacation. I’m the kind of person that spends hours if not days making sure I have the optimal routing, seats and hotel but not the type of person that does tons of in city research. Usually I’ll read Lonely Planet or Fodor’s on the way there, and plan the vacation accordingly. Although in this particular case it’s extremely difficult to get evening tickets to one of the beer tents. You either need to know someone at the brewery or pay through the nose to buy a seat or a table. Even with the local hook up, and planning almost a year in advance, we were not able to get a table, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be able to get in a tent. It just means possible line standing and going early in the morning and hanging out all day. How bad could that be? Right? I mean it’s only Oktoberfest and all they sell beer all day. So besides spending a couple days at the Munich Oktoberfest Fairgrounds, I know I’ll get to hang with family, but I also wanted to check out Olympic Stadium the home of the ‘72 Summer Games. Although I was not born till December of ’73, I’m sort of an Olympics nut and the events surrounding those games would be interesting to see up close. I’ve seen a ton of documentaries and movies about the events, but I think getting up close will be worth it. I’d also like to visit Dachau. I know not the most uplifting experience, but again, I think it’s important to sometimes take a moment and reflect on what makes our world what it is, and to see another event in our history books up close and personal would be very enriching.

After five days in Munch, my buddy “G” and I will then head over to the Scotch and Whiskey capitol of the world and spend a few nights in Dublin. I’ll do my best to give my liver a rest, but the home of Bushmills and Jameson’s may have other plans. Plus being the home of my favorite beer, do I even need to say it’s name will have to be tested at many pubs too. I’m told that is just tastes better here. I’ll be sure to report my findings. In any event our plan here is to check out many Irish pubs, the Jameson’s and Guinness factories. And to boot “G” has a hook up who works for Jameson’s so we’ll see what that gets us.

So with just a few weeks to go before the big trip, I’m jazzed and ready to go.

Categories: Europe, Food, Oktoberfest, Travel, Trip Report, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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