Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Galway and The Great Irish Beer Festival - Part 1

I almost missed the connection to Galway.

Going from Carlow to Galway involves going east to head west, changing trains in Kildare.  When I booked the ticket online I had 25 minutes to spare before the Dublin-Galway train arrived. Unfortunately I never reckoned for the first train running so late so I arrived in Kildare with 2 minutes to spare. I would like to think that Irish Rail held the train, were super efficient and conscientious and knew that there might be people on my train needing to change in Kildare but I think that would be one leap of faith too much. I think I was lucky.

I ended up opposite a rough looking woman who smelled of feet. I don’t think it was just her feet that smelled of feet it was kind of all encompassing. She also had two black eyes and a strange bearded husband with a small head and large hands. She had a strange habit of lying flat across two seats and sticking her feet out in to the aisle causing the odour to waft around the carriage in an almost visible manner, like the stink lines in a cartoon. I should really have changed carriages but I was too fascinated by the woman to move and I thought she might do something worth hanging around for, like spontaneously combust. 

I was wrong. She left in Athlone. Her smell got off in Athenry.

When I arrived in Galway it was spilling rain. It was noon and Beer Goggles and Beer Mat had not left Dublin yet. They had a wedding there the previous day and were driving across the country at some stage. Although I got soaked getting to the hotel I was keen to get back out and get in to Sheridan’s on the Dock as soon as possible for a pint of Hooker. I quickly dried off and made the short dash along the quay and went inside.

I was greeted by friendly staff and a ferocious back draft from the lit open fire. I sat up at the bar and took a look around. It was a nice place with two separate rooms as well as the main bar area. Not very big but that seemed part of the charm.

The list on draught was quite impressive, for me anyway. As well as Galway Hooker they had Leffe, Erdinger, Staropramen, Budvar , Hoegaarden and others.  They also had a nice range of beer in bottles including specials on Sierra Navada Pale Ale and Menabrea. This was the first pub I had been in that served a decent selection of beer, I’m not the Beer Novice for nothing you know!

There was a nice mix of hearty food on the menu too, ranging from stews to meat and cheese platters.  I spotted a Rare Beef Sandwich and immediately knew this was the perfect compliment for a pint of Galway Hooker. I was quickly served with my beer and my food followed soon after.

Well what can I say, it was without doubt the best lunch I have had in years. The beer was suberb. I had previously tasted it at Septemberfest in Farmliegh and had liked it then but somehow, sitting at a bar in Galway with rain pummelling down outside, it was fantastic. The fact that my beef sandwich was superb helped. It was fat slices of beef in generous proportions, crammed between thick slices of bread with salad inside and on the side. Words can’t express how good it was. The fresh, hoppy taste of the Hooker combined with the rich beef was a perfect combination. This was Nirvana.

I wasn’t just the food and the beer, it was the whole sense of comfort, homeliness and satisfaction.

So as the smoke billowed out of the fire I relaxed and waited for BM and BG, who were on their way at last.


Alistair Reece said...

That pub looks lovely - shame Galway isn't on our agenda when we come over in November.

Liam said...

It was my kind of pub. The weather, hunger and thirst might have helped my opinion though!