It never hurts to ask!

So there are a lot of beers I'm anxious to try while I'm abroad, but as I've looked through various brewery websites, The Kernel was the first one on which I noticed a sour.
I'm pretty new to sours, and some are still WAY too much for me. But I'm increasingly fascinated by the style. So much so that I was REALLY excited to attend the local sour beer event “Where the Wild Beers Are.” Sadly, it got scheduled while I'm out of town. Like all the other beer fests. Seriously – I'm gone for three Saturdays and there is a beer event ALL THREE SATURDAYS! Surly Fest, Autumn Brew Review, and WTWBA. Boo. I shall be forced to drown my sorrows across the pond.
Anyway, back to The Kernel. I got all excited about their London Sour, clicked to check their hours, and the brewery is open 9a-3p on Saturdays. Only problem? I'm flying from Dublin to London, landing at Heathrow at 2:30. DAMN YOU SATURDAYS!
Obviously, I'm not going to make it in time. But I figure what the hell, I'll email the brewery and see if the beer is available anywhere else. I'm determined to get my hands on this stuff. If nothing else, I'd love a bottle of it to bring home and be my “admission beer” to next year's WTWBA. Unless of course it's scheduled on a day I'm having surgery or something, which seems likely.
Not only did they point me in the direction of some other sours to try in London, and bars with good selections, they actually offered to let me swing by the brewery on a weekday. YAY! Obviously it will be during working hours so I can't expect them to entertain me, but I'm still grateful for the chance to pick up a bottle or two. They also offered to open a couple of their bottles if I bring some from my neck of the woods. So yes, that will be happening!
This is just more evidence of the awesomeness of beer people!!

Ireland Itinerary and Map (Some guessing!)

General Hotel info:
  • Galway – Hotel in Eyre Square
  • Killarney – Fossa
  • Dublin – Ballsbridge
  • London – Blackfriars
Day 1)  Saturday, Sept. 21:  TRANSATLANTIC  FLIGHT

Overnight flight from Minneapolis to Shannon Airport on the Westside of Ireland. Dinner and light breakfast are served on the plane.


Day 2)  Sunday, Sept. 22:  CLIFFS  OF  MOHER  &  BURREN  &  GALWAY

After arriving in the morning at Shannon Airport we’re greeted by our Irish bus driver and guide Willi. We load our luggage and drive through the scenic County Clare. The highlight of the journey will be the “Cliffs of Moher”. These cliffs provide a dramatic panorama plunging over 600 feet to the sea and extending five miles. Next comes – quite as a contrast – the “Burren” – a vast area comprised of limestone eroded into moonscape patterns. Later this afternoon we arrive at Galway where we stay for two nights. After checking into the hotel enjoy a stroll through the historic city center of Galway with its St. Nicholas Church, Lynch Castle, Salmon Weir Bridge, Spanish Arch, Kirwan’s Lane and Eyre Square. Enjoy tonight’s welcome dinner at the hotel’s restaurant.  B, D


Day 3)  Monday, Sept. 23:  GALWAY  &  CONNEMARA  &  KYLEMORE  ABBEY

After a good Irish buffet breakfast we are off’ for the Connemara Region, which is known for its spectacular mountain and coastal scenery along with its gleaming rivers and lakes. We drive along the Galway Bay through charming villages and visit the impressive Kylemore Abbey, home of the Benedictine Community of Nuns since World War I. We’ll enjoy a stroll through the colorful Victorian Walled Garden, the Abbey’s ornate reception rooms and the beautiful Neo-Gothic Church – a “Cathedral in Miniature”. There will be also time for a light lunch before we return to Galway in the early afternoon. Enjoy the balance of the day in Galway and tonight’s dinner on your own in one of the many restaurants and Pubs.  B


Day 4)  Tuesday, Sept. 24:  BUNRATTY  CASTLE  &  ADARE  &  KILLARNEY

This morning we leave Galway and travel south for the beautiful County Kerry. Along the way we stop for a visit of the famous Bunnratty Castle & Folk Park, an open air museum proving an example of life in the nineteenth century Ireland. Afterwards we continue to the charming village of Adare with its lovely restored Cottages. Enjoy a walk through the village and a break for lunch before we continue to the Killarney area, the most visited part of Ireland. We see the town of Killarney, considered as the gateway to the “Ring of Kerry”, and also known for its large number of Pubs. We stay for two nights at the family-run “Loch Lein Country House”, a true haven of Irish hospitality with a great view over Killarney’s famous Lower Lake & National Park. Enjoy tonight’s dinner at our Country House.  B, D


Day 5)  Wednesday, Sept. 25:  RING  OF  KERRY  &  IRISH  EVENING

After a traditional Irish breakfast we enjoy a drive along the famous “Ring of Kerry”, a 100 mile long panoramic road and a wonderland of natural beauty with views of rolling hills, high mountains, island-jewelled lakes, green glens and rocky cliffs. Before returning to our Country House in the late afternoon another highlight is waiting for you, Muckross House & Gardens, dating back to 1843. Tonight enjoy a special “Irish Evening” at a local Pub, a dinner with traditional music and folk dancing.  B, D


Day 6)  Thursday, Sept. 26:  BLARNEY  &  ROCK  OF  CASHEL  &  DUBLIN

This morning we leave the Killarney National Park area and travel to County Cork. The brave ones may visit – on optional basis – the Blarney Castle & Stone. Legend promises the “Gift of Gab” to those who kiss the Blarney Stone. Nearby shops offer some of the largest collections of Waterford Crystals and Belleek China and typical Irish Souvenirs. At the town of Midleton we visit the “Jameson Whiskey Distillery”. A guided tour through the distillery gives us an insight about the production of Whiskey and its different tastes. There will also be time to shop and time for a light lunch at the distillery. Along the way to Dublin we stop at the “Rock of Cashel”, one of the most spectacular attractions of Ireland. The Rock was already fortified by the Kings of Munster in the fourth century. The Golden Age of Cashel was in the high middle-ages when the Cathedral & Cormac Chapel was built in Romanesque style. Later this afternoon we arrive in Dublin, the capitol of Ireland. We check into our hotel for a pleasant two nights’ stay and enjoy dinner at the hotel’s restaurant.  B, D


Day 7)  Friday, Sept. 27:  DUBLIN

This morning we enjoy a city tour of Dublin. We see the most important sites of this city: Trinity College with its “Long Room” & the “Book of Kells”, St. Stephen’s Green, City Hall, Grafton Street, O’ Connell & Ha’penny Bridge, Temple Bar District, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, City Hall and the Dublin Castle. Enjoy some free time for shopping and browsing. In the afternoon we can visit on optional basis the famous Guinness Brewery, founded by Arthur Guinness in 1759. Tonight, many of the restaurants and Pubs in Dublin’s pulsating Temple Bar are waiting for you.  B


Day 8)  Saturday, Sept. 28:  DUBLIN  &  FLIGHT  TO  LONDON  &  RIVER  CRUISE

After a relaxing buffet breakfast we drive to the international airport of Dublin and check-in for our flight to London. Upon arrival at London’s airport Heathrow we board our bus and get the first impressions of this exciting city. We check into our hotel for a pleasant 4 nights’ stay. Later on we enjoy a “Cruise on the River Thames” followed by a welcome dinner of London at a local restaurant.  B, D


Day 9)  Sunday, Sept. 29:  LONDON  &  BUCKINGHAM  PALACE

We start the day with our daily included buffet breakfast. Then we’re off’ for a visit of the famous “Buckingham Palace”, the residence of the Queen & Royal Family of England. The Palace, built in the eighteenth century consists of 600 rooms. Afterwards we enjoy a tour of London by bus, including all the important sites: Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge. Enjoy the balance of the day for your own activities as well as dinner in a local restaurant.  B


Day 10)  Monday, Sept. 30:  A FULL DAY  IN  LONDON


Day 11)  Tuesday, Oct. 1:  LONDON  &  FAREWELL  DINNER

Tonight, we enjoy our special farewell dinner at a local restaurant.  B, D
(The rest of the group flies home on Wednesday, I'm spending the day in London and then heading to Cardiff to visit friends.)

Two days and counting!

I'm officially freaking out about getting packed and ready to go. I also feel like everytime I look around, I find more bars and breweries I want to check out and I simply won't have the time to get to them all!
The following are food and drink places I am almost certainly going to visit:
The following are other breweries and places that sound interesting:
  • London, The Kernel
  • London, Weird Beard Brewing
  • Cardiff, Brains Brewing
  • Kildare, Trouble Brewing
  • More coming…
Part of the problem is since a chunk of the trip is a bus tour (NOT my preferred travel method!) and I'm with my Mom (not a beer drinker), I will have limited time to explore on my own. And I'm not sure exactly where we'll be stopping for lunch each day. I'd certainly prefer a little more flexibility BUT I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity to travel with my Mom.
If any Irish, English, or Welsh breweries happen to read this – I am still looking for suggestions! I'll try to post a map of where I'll be. ALSO I AM HAPPY TO BRING BEER TO TRADE! I'd LOVE to bring over some beer from the Minnesota craft brewing renaissance to share with you!!

My research so far

When I first found out abuot this trip, I did what any normal person would do – I started a spreadsheet of booze research. What, you don’t do that? You should. I store it in the same folder as my home brewing notes.
I’ve neglected it a bit so need to do some last minute cramming but I’m pretty proud of the research so far!
Check it out:

Drinking in Context

Okay, so my long term goal here is to talk about booze. But specifically, making an effort to experience beer, booze, and cocktails differently based on context. I know from experience that a gin and tonic can be more than just a drink, it can be an experience. While I’ve had plenty of G&Ts on boats or decks here in Minnesota, there was a very different experience when I drank one in a safari lodge in Tanzania. Here, watching elephants wander across the plains below, I *experienced* a gin & tonic, with all it’s cultural background built in to the experience. It was painfully colonial.
I enjoy drinking in context. I love having a beer at the brewery, or sampling alcohol straight from the still. I like drinking and talking to the people who make the product. Just like an author might explain a reference in a book that you missed, so might a brewer talk about the process in a way that helps you discover or appreciate a new flavor.
To kick things off, I’m headed off to Ireland, London, and Cardiff. To be fair, the trip was planned before the blog and I don’t have a ton of free time while I’m there because I’m tagging along with my Mom and a tour group. This isn’t how I usually travel (love traveling solo and combining plans with whim) but I’m not one to turn down a trip no matter the format. But hey, I will probably need the distraction of good craft beer more than ever.
I will be staying in Galway, Fossa/Killarney, Dublin, London, and Cardiff.
Here are the daily highlights as stolen from my itinerary:
  • 21-9-13 Fly to Shannon
  • 22-9-13 Cliffs of Moher, Burren, Galway
  • 23-9-13 Galway, Connemara, Kylemore Abbey
  • 24-9-13 Bunratty Castle, Adare, Killarney
  • 25-9-13 Ring of Kerry
  • 26-9-13 Blarney, Midleton (Jameson), Rock of Cashel, Dublin
  • 27-9-13 Dublin, Trinity College, Guinness
  • 28-9-13 Dublin, Fly to London
  • 29-9-13 London, Buckingham Palace
  • 30-9-13 London
  • 1-10-13 London
  • 2-10-13 London, Bus to Cardiff
  • 3-10-13 Cardiff
  • 4-10-13 Cardiff
  • 5-10-13 Fly Home