Posts Tagged ‘moran’s oyster cottage’

Irish Beer: Galway Hooker at Moran’s Oyster Cottage

April 5, 2011 3 comments

The simple joy of meeting up in the pub to relax and celebrate at the completion of an arduous task was illustrated perfectly last weekend. Kate, her sisters and I flew to Ireland to meet their parents at the end of a remarkable walk from coast to coast for the cancer prevention charity, Genesis. They had arranged to finish their walk by the seaside in Moran’s Oyster Cottage in County Galway. Kate’s mother didn’t know we were coming to meet them.

An early morning Ryanair flight and a few hours in a rental car along a great new road later, we had a very pleasant wait in the older front bar of Moran’s. It’s expanded out the back into a fairly large pub restaurant. However the staff were very friendly and happy for us and the others to sit and drink for most of the afternoon before ordering some really delicious food: grilled oysters and huge portions of baked salmon.

As you might expect, the most popular drink in a thatched pub serving shellfish in the West of Ireland is Guinness. Of course the pints were just as good as you’d expect, with the traditional surroundings and the wheaten bread, smoked salmon, prawns and crab (and a couple of glasses of bubbly) we had with them all contributing to a great afternoon. What I hadn’t really expected to find in Moran’s was craft beer.

I know there’s been a renaissance of craft brewing in recent years (see this excellent Irish Times Article of last Saturday), but I expected to find them in craft beer bars in Dublin, not a seafood pub in rural Galway. That said, Galway Hooker is a local beer.

The Irish craft beer movement is primarily keg and bottle-driven, rather than cask. This is a reflection of the history of Irish beer, where one or two large breweries drove out competition and their chosen methods of dispense dominated. The styles of beer favoured by these new breweries tend towards stouts and “Irish reds”, as you might also expect, given the lack of variation available to Irish drinkers until more recently.

However, Galway Hooker, along with a number of other beers I was to try later in Dublin, has recaptured the hop for Ireland. It’s a lovely refreshing pale to amber ale with a nice floral but biting hoppiness, all of which is complemented by being served cold and from keg, like it might be in a US craft beer bar. 

It was great to have it in this setting, a quiet recognition that craft beer is as Irish a product as the thick-shelled native oysters I had for dinner and indeed arguably more Irish these days than the Diageo-owned Guinness.  Galway Hooker is soon to be available in bottles, so maybe we might see some of it in the UK.

Dave and Rosie have so far raised over £4,300 to help research and prevention of genetic breast cancer, which Dave himself has survived.  Please consider making a small donation to this very worthy cause here.  If you do, tell me next time you meet me and I promise to buy you a pint.

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