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Irish Beer: Against The Grain, Dublin

April 11, 2011 2 comments

After The Bull & Castle, the second pub we visited on the recommendation of The Beer Nut was Against The Grain. We’d been out to the seaside at Dun Laioghaire on a cool, sunny spring weekday afternoon and on our return to Dublin were in the mood for a pint. From Pearse Station we walked West, stopping briefly to admire the selection in the Celtic Whiskey Shop on Dawson Street, before crossing St Stephen’s Green and ending up on Wexford Street.

Against The Grain is a relatively new pub which is part of the same chain as The Oslo, The Cottage and The Salt House in Galway. The Oslo is also a brewpub and produces two “Galway Bay” beers, a lager and an ale.

The pub itself has a pleasant frontage and an uncluttered interior. When we went in there was no-one but the barman about, so we sat at the bar and he was happy to chat about beer, on which subject he clearly knew his stuff.  The selection of keg and bottled beers was excellent, with quite a few imported craft beers. After a good bit of umming and ahhing I decided on a bottle of O’Hara’s Leann Folláin, a nice full-bodied 6% stout from Carlow Brewing Company. It was a good muscular stout, with a lovely coffee-coloured head and a roasted dark chocolate bitterness.

Kate tried their own Galway Bay Ale, which had a bit of a bready smell and a fairly uninteresting brown beer taste. She also tried the Trouble Brewing Ór, a golden ale. This had an unusual, rich, very sweet orange/mandarin smell. There was definitely a lot of orange in the taste as well, which reminded me of sticky orange Calippo lollipops.

Unfortunately we had to head on and meet someone before the pub presumably started to get livelier with the after-work crowd, but I was again impressed to see such a good representation of both Irish and imported craft beer in a nice welcoming setting.  Again, thanks to The Beer Nut for the recommendation, which I’m happy to pass on to you lot.

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Irish Beer: The Bull & Castle, Christchurch, Dublin

April 10, 2011 8 comments

Beyond The Porterhouse, I had very little idea of where to find craft beer in Dublin. Fortunately Irish beer blogger laureate The Beer Nut was a great help, suggesting over Twitter that I try The Bull & Castle, Against The Grain and L. Mulligan Grocer. Although unfortunately we didn’t make it to the last one, we did visit the first two.

The Bull & Castle is by Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, a short walk from Temple Bar. It has a beer hall upstairs and a restaurant downstairs, both with a comprehensive selection of Irish craft beer. The furniture upstairs has something of a gothic arch theme running through it, reflecting the cathedral over the road.

We sat at the bar upstairs and tried a few of the different beers. Castle Red was an “Irish Red” in the vein of Smithwicks. As such it was relatively sweet and malty and had next to no hoppiness. Franciscan Well Rebel Lager was good enough for a pilsner but that was about all there was to it.

Metalman Pale Ale was more interesting. A new beer from a new brewing company (although actually made at the White Gypsy brewery) it had a fresh citrus bitterness that to me seemed to include a bit of Burton sulphur.

The Bull & Castle is owned by FXB, a chain of steakhouse restaurants around Dublin that use meat from their own farm in County Offally. Kate and I took a table downstairs and both enjoyed really excellent medium rare ribeye steaks with champ and a delicious surf-and-turf side of prawns.

With dinner I had a bottle of O’Hara’s Irish Pale Ale by the Carlow Brewing Company, who do a lot of bottled beers and produce the Irish Stout for Marks & Spencer. Their IPA had a nice light flavour and a subtle, slightly floral, oily bitterness.

I’ve made myself incredibly hungry and thirsty just writing this. Many thanks to The Beer Nut for the tip-off. Based on our experience, I’d definitely recommend the Bull & Castle to anyone visiting Dublin for a winning combination of craft Irish beer and good eats.

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