This entry is slightly late in being written (just over a year!), and I (that is Rob) regret not doing it sooner especially having met so many awesome people while travelling around Ireland. It’s just that we got a bit behind, and then when we got to the boat, Sophia and I were consumed with getting it ready for sailing.
So, Ireland is one of those mystical countries that need to be visited at least once in your life, if not a few times to truly enjoy it! A quick recap, as mentioned in an earlier blog we decided to head off to Ireland after spending an awesome time at our friend Richard and Raquel’s place in Sittingbourne, Kent. We flew from Gatwick airport on RyanAir to Dublin where we started out our tour of Ireland. We took an airlink bus to downtown Dublin where we walked to the Ashling Hotel where we stayed.
We did a bit of a whirlwind tour of Dublin and visited the National Museum of Ireland-Decorative Arts & History, Trinity College (viewed the Book of Kells), National Museum of Ireland-Archeology, Dublin Castle, Chester Beatty Library, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Of course we also visited the Temple Bar area where we sampled some pints of glorious Guinness at the Temple Bar Pub and listened to live music, saw street performers on Grafton Street, and took a walk through Saint Steven’s Park.
No visit to Dublin is complete without a visit and tour of the Guinness Storehouse factory and brewery; it was an interesting tour of the history and process of brewing. Sophia and I both did the ‘Pour a Perfect Pint’ course where we learned how to pour a perfect pint of Guinness (we both passed). Sophia surpassed everyone in technique and then spent the rest of our Ireland trip scrutinizing every pint of Guinness poured for us. Only a couple pubs passed Sophia’s watchful gaze of acceptance. The lost art of pouring a pint…
Pouring a perfect pint of Guinness has to start somewhere; so it starts with the handling of the Guinness glass(es) by the pourer. The glass should always be held at the bottom by the pourer; this area is the pourer’s area for handling while the top part of the glass is for the drinker and his mouth. Besides, we never know where the pourer’s hands have been, and it is considered bad etiquette. The newer Guinness glasses (introduced in 2010) has a relief image of the ‘Harp’ on one side and a golden Harp on the other side. The relief image should be tilted at a 45 degree angle away from the pourer. The tap is pulled towards the pourer until the Guinness reaches the middle part of the golden Harp on the front of the glass (approx. ¾)-NEVER put the tap spout in the Guinness. The Guinness is put down and not touched for a minute or two (the Guinness Storehouse states: 119.5 seconds or another easy way is when there is a vivid distinction between the dark ruby red body and the creamy white head. Once it is settled, the Guinness is topped up by keeping the glass level and pushing the tap away from the pourer until the glass is filled with half an inch of glass lip. Pushing the tap away from the pourer causes the Guinness to flow slower, creating less gas being released in the pour. The glass is then set down where the Guinness forms a perfect ‘head’ and is then served to the patron. This is why those glorious pints of Guinness take so long to come to your table, unlike the guy who ordered a glass of Budweiser Lite and gets his in a 1/30th of the time.
Why does Guinness taste different here, than in Ireland? We were told the recipe is the same everywhere for the standard Guinness Stout (excluding the variants of Guinness beers), but it’s the water source used in each country that creates a different flavor sometimes. Also, the original Guinness Stout (started over 200 years), now called ‘Guinness Extra Stout’, is darker and richer in flavor and from what we were told, can only be bought in bottles. There isn’t a large market for Extra Stout so the largest importers are African and Caribbean countries. The current Guinness Stout recipe that is popular worldwide was created to broaden the sales market for people who didn’t like the stronger original Guinness flavor; Sophia and I enjoyed both.
We both agree that three days is more than enough time to see most of the touristy sites and museums in Dublin; more time could be spent in Dublin in studying the history and architecture of the area, or if you wanted to invest in a serious pub crawl, but we had other places to explore and friends to make. ~Rob & Sophia