Following our time at the St. Patrick’s Day parade, we walked from the Liberties area of Dublin back toward Harold’s Cross and then down the canal to Ballsbridge and the RDS Main Arena. Traditionally speaking, St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin is a cold and rainy affair, but as my previous pictures showcase, it was a beautiful, sunny day. Perfect for that long stroll down the canal we’d been talking about practically since we first moved here. About an hour later we arrived at the RDS, a place we’re quite familiar with for rugby but not so much for indoor events.
I’d only read about the Irish Beer & Whiskey Village a few days beforehand, but since we love beer and whiskey and didn’t have any other plans for St. Paddy’s Day, we figured stopping in was as good a way as any of celebrating the holiday. We knew we wanted to avoid the Temple Bar area so this gave us a way to drink while in a celebratory environment without getting thrown up on or jostled during bro skirmishes.
The event went through the weekend, but this was its first day and when we arrived it looked like people didn’t really know about it. The €15 entry fee seemed a bit steep given the cost of tastings and servings of beer and cocktails, which I figured what was keeping most people away. It’s not that it was empty, per se, but for such a large space it seemed empty. The upside was the lack of people gave us an opportunity to speak with the brewers themselves, and to learn more about the beer than we would have had been a madhouse.
We started by sampling several of the ciders on offer, most from Armagh in Northern Ireland, before moving on to the beers. Our first stop was The Open Gate Brewery stall from Guinness. The Open Gate is where Guinness brews all of its experimental beers and those we tasted were quite nice. We asked about a toasted oatmeal and vanilla porter but they weren’t tapping the cask until 7:30 so we tried a nitro IPA and another stout.
From there we moved around a lot, just enjoying ourselves and the beers on offer. We learned there’s a brewery and distillery operated by a native Dubliner currently operating in Lexington, Kentucky that is coming back to Ireland either later this year or next year. Their bourbon was really tasty, as was their Kentucky Ale aged in their bourbon barrels.
We also enjoyed pretty much everything we tasted at The White Hag and Hope Brewing Company. The White Hag had a few beers they were serving through a beer randall which injects “flavor-enhancing ingredients” into the beer just before serving, including one that tasted like the best cup of coffee you’d ever had, but my surprising favorite was the Irish Heather Sour Ale. Why surprising? Well, I traditionally *hate* sour ales. But this? Yeah, I’d drink this all day long. I was excited to hear the master brewer is from Akron, Ohio since I have a love for that oft-maligned state (and the city of Cleveland, in particular). What The White Hag is doing in County Sligo aligns perfectly with our philosophy with wine (go big or go home!), so I’ll be seeking bottles out whenever and wherever I can here. We have a friend in Alameda, California, who owns a grocery store with one of the best beer selections in the Bay Area and I’ve already encouraged him to seek out these beers when he can. We loved Grunt, the saison from Hope Brewing, but it was their Pass If You Can, a blonde, that really blew me away. I’m not traditionally a fan of blonde beers – I could take ’em or leave ’em – but man, like I said on Twitter, I would bathe in that beer. It was just so damn delicious! I’m now on the hunt for it around Dublin so if you spy it, lemme know.
At this point in the day the crowds had started to show up so we took a break to eat and hang out in front of the stage where a few musicians were playing. One of the guys had the best tone to his voice, like a rich, thick honey. Man, I wish I could sing like that. (Hell, I wish I could sing, period.) There was dancing and one guy tried to get me to go up with him, but um, no. No one needs to see that.
We were shocked to see it was 7:30 p.m. (since we thought we’d only hang out for a couple of hours at most) and so we pretty much ran over to the Open Gate Brewery to see if they’d tapped the beer we’d been looking forward to earlier in the day. To our ever-loving relief they had and OH MY GOD. It was a revelation. You can’t buy it, of course, but we bought a half-pint at which point the guy pouring told us we’d be back for the other half. We were, a few minutes later. And then another half pint each. And then maybe ever some more. At that point things started to get a bit fuzzy. 😉
While we were finishing up our last beer and an amazing brisket sandwich from Jane Russell’s Sausages, an American guy from Texas asked if he could hang out at our table while he waited for his wife to come back from the restroom. We chatted a bit and gave them some recommendations on which pubs would be their best options for live trad music in Temple Bar, and then stepped outside to catch our cab home. Much to my happiness, on the drive through Donnybrook and Ranelagh the cabbie told us how much he liked Hillary Clinton and how everyone he knew wanted her to be President of the U.S. He also, as you can imagine, had a few choice words about Donald Trump. And then, before we knew it, we were home and crashing in our bed upstairs, our first Irish St. Patrick’s Day in the books.
And what a day it was!