Saturday, 1 November 2008

Galway and The Great Irish Beer Festival - Part 4

I was up early on Sunday so I took a walk along the dock and up along the river. The weather had certainly improved and there were a fair few people with the same idea. I was feeling a little muggy from my shenanigans the previous night so I walked for ages and stopped for a coffee before meeting up with Beer Goggles down the town.

The plan was to go to Sheridan’s for food and a pint again and then to collect Beer Mat before heading to the festival. We headed down towards the dock and turned the corner only to find Sheridan’s closed!

Disaster. Seemingly they don’t have a Sunday licence, which I found a bit strange. Not to mention disappointing. This also meant no nightcap here tonight. I guess we were going to have to go to plan B.

We picked up BM and headed to Naughton’s instead. They had Hooker, a wheat beer and the usuals on draught and a small selection of bottles. It was a nice place, very traditional. I’d say the yanks love it. There seemed to serve only soup or full dinners so we decided to hold off on food until the Festival. We did have a couple of Hookers and a wheat beer though before heading on to The Black Box.

We got caught in a downpour on the way in and arrived like drowned rats at the Speakeasy beer stand. We tried Untouchable pale ale first and it was very smooth and tasty. Fresh tasting with plenty of malt and hops with a nice touch of orange. An excellent beer. Next up was Prohibition ale which was good but not as good as Untouchable. Perhaps a little to bitter for my taste. Big Daddy IPA was the last of the trio. I thought I would really like this but again only found it ok. It was full of flavour no doubt but it tasted a little sharp to me. For me the stars from these guys were Untouchable and the Gordon Bierschs we had yesterday. Give me more!

The place was much quieter today so we got a picnic bench and sat down. BG went off for our next beer and we were joined at the table by Mick. He was from Australia via Oughterard and was a mine of information on wine making and beer brewing. He worked as the former and had completed a course on the latter. We ended up chatting for most of the day on all kinds of beer and wine topics and we really enjoyed his input. In the mean time, BG had arrived back with a bottle of Wells Bombardier. I had heard about the beer before so I was looking forward to it. Strangely, it seemed bland to us. A poor smell I thought, BG piped in with ‘No length’ and Mick thought it thin tasting. Very disappointing, for us anyway.
I was milking Mick for more brewing information when MB arrived with a Youngs Double Chocolate Stout. I tried a little and I have to say it was kind of nice. I mean it is exactly what it says on label. No danger of being disappointed or surprised I guess.

At this stage I had to head back to the Weihenstephan guys with their decent glassware and great beer. I picked the Tradition Bayrisch Dunkel. It was ok. Quite bitter and burnt with a malty taste. My notes say, and I quote, ‘Like Burnt Water’? Figure that one out!

Next was Mac’s Gold lager which we felt was ok if nothing special. A sweet malty flavour but a little insipid. Very inoffensive really.

At this stage I remembered that I hadn’t eaten since breakfast so went off for a bite. I picked up a few bites from a Spanish themed place. Lovely Serrano ham, olives, bread, peppers with goats cheese, anchovies and another cheese I can’t remember the name of. Very tasty.

I wandered back over to the Weihenstephan stand to see what else we could try. I spotted a colourful bottle with the name Korbinian on it. I asked one of the guys serving who told me that there was only 2 or 3 bottles of this in the country! Hmmmmm, yeah, right, sure. I brought it back to the table along with 2 of their decent glasses and poured it out for BG and I. Mick had left at this stage and BM was on the lighter stuff, chatting with a nice couple we were sharing the table with now.

Holy mackerel this was suberb!
There was a heavenly scent and taste of molasses or burnt syrup, a little spice and a bit of citrus too. It had so much going on but everything seemed to gel. It was smooth and full of flavour with a nice finish. I really had trouble describing it. A great end to the festival.

As we made our way back in to town , with another bottle of Korbinian to bring home (only one left now!!!)that BM got for me for free and a Weihenstephan glass I borrowed til next year, I reflected on what my favourite beers of the festival were. I liked all the Gordon Biersch that I tried and most of the Weihenstephan. The Speakeasy Untouchable was good too. I would find it hard to pick my top 3.

But I will anyway.

1 – Korbinian

2 – Marzen

3 – GB Hefeweizen W Vitus Untouchable. I think it’s a tie.

With that we decided to head to the Bierhaus.

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