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Pig In A Poke: Ards Pig Island Pale in Bittles Bar, Belfast

January 5, 2012 4 comments

Belfast seems a much-changed place from when I was 18, but then so are most places since 1998.  When I’m back, roughly twice a year, I still get the impression that there’s a long way to go in terms of beer in most of the pubs. Cask ale is still rarer than hen’s teeth and I’ve yet to see a Trappist in town.

But I need to explore much of the new Belfast more. Although many of the entries in the Good Beer Guide for Northern Ireland seem to be JD Wetherspoons (which indicates the work JDW does to promote and supply cask even where it isn’t commonly accepted) there are a few – The John Hewitt; Molly’s Yard – that I always mean to explore but never get to.

However, over Christmas I did get to Bittle’s Bar, a wedge shaped corner pub in an older building on the edge of the new Victoria Centre.  It’s a pleasant little bar with walls covered in slightly absurd paintings of Northern Irish faces: one depicts Ian Paisley with his arm around Gerry Adams whilst Van Morrison, George Best and Alex Higgins look on.

No cask on the bar, but there was keg Whitewater Copperhead, a nice refreshing pale ale I’ve enjoyed from the bottle. I had a bottle of Pig Island Pale by Ards Brewing Co, a new brewery I recognised from a Beers I’ve Known post of a few months before.

The 4.2% beer was bottle conditioned and had a nice fresh hop aroma, which I really didn’t expect from a Northern Irish beer. It was a satisfyingly bitter pale ale with a slightly orangey aftertaste; very drinkable and probably excellent with seafood. I’ll be keeping an eye out for Ards next time I’m back.

Guinness Gives You Wood

I tend to get a reasonable amount of site traffic every time I mention Guinness, but I was surprised to see that someone found my blog the other day with the search terms, “Does the beer Guinness give you a hard erection?

 The simple answer to the question is of course, “Woah there, settle down fella!  We all like our beer but that’s taking it a bit too far.”

It’s a fairly interesting point though, as myths about the miraculous qualities of Guinness persist despite all evidence to the contrary.  It seems that some pregnant women still take to drinking Guinness (and some mid-wives even continue to recommend it) as it’s supposedly high in iron.  In fact it only contains 1.1mg of iron per pint, so even a non-pregnant woman would need to drink 14 pints to get her RDA of iron, which would also give her 2,786 calories.  No need to eat at all, eh?

Guinness is a pretty filling beer but not unusually high in calories… for beer.  In fact if you go to the Guinness website you can find the table below, which in an attempt to refute this perception puts it at 199 calories a pint, which is at least considerably less than Stella at 245 calories a pint.  But then Stella has a higher ABV and if you’re counting calories when you drink beer, you may as well give up and go on to the gin and slimline tonics, because you’ll be depressed anyway.

Apparently Guinness is regarded as an aphrodisiac in some parts of Africa, the Far East and the Carribean, sometimes with a raw egg in it.  However one site that suggests stout with raw eggs as a way that a “50 year old man can make love like a 20 year old” also suggests that the unfortunate gentleman tape a magnet to his “sacred chakra”.  It goes on:

“If you place the magnet overnight, you may get a morning erection the following day. This shows that blood circulation has indeed occurred in your body.”
 
The fact that you wake up the next day at all shows that “blood circulation has indeed occurred”.  If you have no circulation, a lacklustre morning glory is probably the least of your worries.  On the bright side, there’s always rigor mortis to look forward to.
 
 
Beer with a raw egg in it is a traditional hangover cure or setup for a hard day, as viewers of season 2 of The Wire will be aware.  Eggs, like oysters, are high in zinc which helps produce testosterone, so it’s not a bad call.  Perhaps the deflated search engine user might want to try Guinness and oysters to help him keep up appearances.
 
Alternatively, he could always try the BrewDog beer brewed with “herbal viagra”, whatever that is.  However I reckon he’d be better off getting out the fridge magnets and the masking tape.
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