Archive for April 25th, 2008

It had to happen sooner or later. I travel a lot, and while I do not actively seek out the seedy parts of town, I sometimes stumble across them. I booked a Brussels hotel on the web focusing on the rate and proximity to the centre. It was only when I returned there in the evening I saw what kind of neighbourhood I was in, with ladies winking at me from every window.

I navigated through the streets of the Hague looking for a brewpub last year, and encountered a very non-inviting street that made me speed up a bit and find another route back later.

But, generally, I am not even approached by ladies offering their services. More often, in any city, people walk up to me and ask directions. In Finnish, Italian or Greek. I suppose with my glasses, my hair a bit long and a slightly bewildered look on my face I look like a graying teacher, someone it is safe to approach and ask for the fastest route to the railway station.

I was, therefore, anticipating a new experience when my fellow beer blogger the Beer Nut offered to introduce me to a Galway hooker. I have chatted with the Beer Nut quite frequently over the last year or two, but we have actually met in person only once, on neutral territory. I do not know the customs of the Emerald Isle too well, and I would certainly not want to offend the natives.

It turned out the Galway Hooker is a beer. And it is named after a boat. (I don’t know where the boat got its name!) And, while beers with slightly risque references often turn out to be boring, this turned out to be the best beer I have had on tap in Ireland. It is a lovely IPA, refreshing with lots of hops, grass, flowers and bitterness. A long lingering finish.

The place where they serve this beer, alongside a good range of imports and a number of Irish micro brews is the Bull and Castle. This is a two story pub, with the upstairs function room transferred into a mock German beer hall, complete with tables and benches.

Apart from the Beer Nut, I had the chance to meet up with some other members of the Irish Craft Brewer group, but I’m afraid I had to make my excuses fairly early in the afternoon. I managed to sample the Galway Hooker Coffee Porter as well as two beers from Franciscan Well, too. And even the Brooklyn/Schneider Hopfen Weisse, who the landlord kindly let us taste. Too little time, good company, hope I have some more time on my next visit! One thing is for sure, this pub should be the first watering hole to aim for when arriving in Dublin.

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