Friday, April 4, 2008

The Old Man

Our family moved to Dublin in 1990, and my Father gasped for
a decent pint of beer for around 13 of the intervening 18 years.
The beer scene in Ireland up to very recently has been little more than a showcase for mass produced ultra marketed blandness. I was born in Surrey near London, and for all his life up to moving to Ireland my Dad enjoyed all that the British brewing tradition had to offer. The move to Ireland must have been catastrophic for his love of decent beer because there was literally none to be had in the Ireland of the 1990's. I had little understanding of his plight until I discovered craft beer myself, and shudder at the thought of being in a country where no beer of any character is available. He is not as evangelical about beer as I am, and as a result I came to discover craft beer by myself and alerted him to the few craft breweries then in operation. One in particular had resurrected an old style Irish stout which packed considerable flavour and this renewed his faith in what beer could be, and more recently an Irish take on the pale ale style, which is the most satisfying Irish beer on the market today.

The next move towards his beer redemption was my early forays into home brewing. I recall an Irish ale kit as my first attempt which we put in a pressure barrel and drank together over Christmas. On mature reflection is was awful (we bunged a kilo of sugar in it...), but we had brewed it ourselves and it was on tap. I tried a few more kits, but swiftly moved on to extract and then to all grain brewing. Our taste in beer seems to be similar; always leaning towards the bitter/hoppy end of things, so my home brew tends to reflect this with often an indecent amount of hops and plenty of flavour.

When I think of great drinking experiences I am drawn to the pints of cask ale accompanied by ploughman's salads in the pubs around my Grandfather's house in Surrey. While I love spending time in the few select Dublin pubs that serve craft beer, I am always drawn to these memories because the beer and food go so very well together and there is nothing strained about it. In Dublin you can't help but adopt a siege mentality, knowing full well that you are surrounded on all sides by bland beer, and if you were to leave the pub serving craft beer it would be quite a trek to find a similar one.

We have attended a few beer festivals, most notably the GBBF last year, and the Belfast Beer Festival the year before which I am grateful for because none of my other close friends and family are remotely interested in beer. Each quarter we split the CAMRA beer club selection that I get shipped to Dublin. Hopefully this goes some way to satisfying his love of English ales.


The Beer Nut said...

Great post, and welcome to The Session.

As for the siege: you think it's a coincidence that the Bull & Castle Beerhall has all those heavy wooden tables and benches, and commands hilltop views across five approaches to the pub?

Notice how it never turns its back on James's Gate neither.

Thom said...

Wow. I never thought of that. Long live the middle ages!